The Relationship Between Visual and Olfactory Stimuli In A Retail Environment

Nathan Bailey

Gabrielle Conlon

Wilson Sansbury

Abstract: This study investigates consumers’ behavioral response to ambient scent in a retail setting. An eye-tracking analysis was performed to observe the visual attention of 135 participants at Pack Expo International 2012, an international packaging trade show in Chicago, Illinois. A mock office supply store was erected and an essential oil nebulizer was used to covertly emit realistic scents of lemon or coffee within the store while the study took place. A head mounted eye tracker was used to obtain the eye movements of the participants as they shopped for items on a pre-established shopping list. Analysis of the data attempted to determine if a correlation exists between ambient scent and the visual attention of participants to retail items that correspond to the ambient aroma. This study found no statistical significance between the ambient aromas of coffee and lemons and visual attention to coffee products or lemon scented cleaning supplies, however further explanation for this inconclusiveness is offered in the discussion.


We thank all the participants at Pack Expo International  2012 who made this study possible. We thank the sponsorship of PMMI for the success of the study, as well as Esko, Harris A. Smith, Coca-Cola, Roland, International Paper, Cryovac, Mondelēz International, Sonoco, iMotions, and Pratt Industries for their generous donations of products and supplies. We lastly thank Andy Pham for his contribution of the literature review behind the study.

This publication uses Eye Tracking which is fully integrated into iMotions Lab

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