Effects of appropriate and inappropriate odors on product evaluations

H. N. J. Schifferstein, A. MICHAUT-DENIZEAU

Perceptual and Motor Skills

December 2002, vol. 95, n°3f, pp.1199-1224

Departments: Marketing

In accounting for an odorant's effect on the evaluation of a product, both the odor's intrinsic pleasantness and its appropriateness for that particular product are relevant. When comparing the effects of pleasant smells,consumers are likely to prefer products with appropriate smells to those with an inappropriate smell. We investigated the effect of adding congruent and incongruent odorants on product evaluations for each of three product categories: food (tea, instant whip, cake mix), personal care (shampoo, deodorant, lip balm), and household products (cream cleaner, air freshener, furniture wax). In a between-subjects design, 96 respondents judged scented and unscented products presented in commercial packages of major national brands. The respondents assessed the overall evaluation, 14 to 19 beliefs about the product, buying intention, and the frequency of use for each product. Respondents were instructed to evaluate each product as they would in a store. Although congruency ratings between odor and product show that the manipulation of congruency was successful, no main effect was found for the congruency on overall evaluations of the products. To account for this unexpected finding, we speculate that congruency between odor and product may be more important during product consumption or product use than during its selection. In addition, the odor's effects may have been attenuated in our experiment because we asked our respondents to rate each product on the attribute 'has a nice smell