Ki Nan Tsui
The Nation

HSBC IN HONG KONG uses its signature lily and lemon-grass perfume in its retail banks. Barclays in Britain has been brewing coffee in its branches to great success, creating a homey feeling for the banks.

These scents can be copyrighted to allow owners exclusive rights for use, and their signature success encourages other corporations to indulge in “scent marketing”.  Singapore-based Equal Strategy has found a niche in supplying retail stores, hotels, and airports with bespoke scents, music, and messaging systems. Companies such as Mercedes-Benz, OCBC Bank, retail chainCourts and ChangiAirport have enlisted its help to enhance customer experience, said founder and CEO Simon Faure-Field.

Faure-Field believes there are plenty of opportunities for scent marketing in Thailand’s robust hospitality industry. Already Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ Westin hotel on Sukhumvit Road has – as part of the parent’s global initiative — been branding itself through its white-tea scent.
And prospects smell rosy. He is optimistic his mix of audio-olfactory branding can grow by four digits this year. The business made almost one million Singaporean dollars (Bt21.8 million) last year.

Faure-Field first got into the telephone messaging business, fed up with what he sees as the one-size fit—all solution to corporate recorded phone messages, where nearly all companies have the same monotonous waiting muzak. According to Faure-Field, statistics show that 30 percent of those put on hold on corporate phone lines hang up. Yet such dead waiting time is an opportunity to advertise corporate brands or introduce new products and services.

Equal Opportunity’s audio services also extend to what it terms “location media management”: on-premise ambiance music, service announcements, and internal communications. It has a library of more than two million copyrighted musical works, which can be packaged to suit a client’s needs

All music is centrally controlled via the company’s network and songs are shuffled from Equal Strategy’s headquarters, so no two days are the same. Such centralisation rules out the chance of employees putting in their own music, which might not jive with the brands, and frees up time for managers and relieves them of headaches.

For Changi Airport, the atmospherics consultant has devised a package of 1,200 songs, thereby reducing licensing costs by S$100,000 a year.

We experience life through five senses. Why do we only market through two or three?” said Robert Lanterborn, professor of advertising at Columbia University.