Scent Branding: Why H&M smells like David Beckham’s armpit

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The smell of a mowed lawn, your favourite food or a nearby barbecue can invoke powerful emotions. A fresh brew of coffee can conjure up nostalgic memories of lattes gone by. Brands all over the world are using this emotional connection with smell to leave an impression on their customers. But it’s a double-edged sword.

The “new car” smell in a BMW, the refreshing spa-like smell in your Marriott hotel room and the “woody” aroma of Abercrombie & Fitch? All artificial. Abercrombie & Fitch’s in-store aroma was so popular they made it into a perfume. Customers even complained when their T-shirts stopped smelling of it.

But not every scented branding effort evokes the same kind of emotions like freshly brewed coffee. H&M in London have recently started spraying a new scent over their customers. They use two distinct aromas; one for men and one for women. The verdict: People won’t be clamouring for the perfume version any time soon.

Pants: Beckham's new product line for H&M

When customers enter the men’s department they’re greeted with a wall covered with David Beckham’s new line of underwear – and a smell that can only be described as something that would emit from his armpits.

Not every positively received aroma is artificial though. The Brand Republic reported recently that the all-natural smell of newly opened MacBook is being reproduced as a perfume. Smelling like the ink on cardboard, plastic wrapping and aluminum aromas that accompany a new Mac gives an entirely new meaning to “I’m a Mac”. Hopefully they’ll do better than H&M.

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