Scent Innovation For Direct Mail

Published On: February 1, 2023

Discover the power of scent to increase response rates and drive ROI

With direct mail, marketers have a unique opportunity to engage with their audience’s senses. While direct mail already appeals to our sense of sight and touch it can further engage consumers through their sense of smell using scent marketing.

A fragrance scent is more than just a smell. It’s an avenue to invite your consumers to participate with your brand and message to drive response rates.  Additionally, it creates a new and deeper dimension with your brand reaching emotional triggers of targeted consumers.

Why Scent Marketing?

The olfactory (sense of smell) system is linked to the limbic system which evokes emotional and behavioral responses, memory and recall. All of the other senses are passed through the brain’s interpretive center where consumers process things they see or hear. Scent on the other hand, creates a flow state, where one loses the normal sense of time and is consumed in the moment which can last up to several minutes.

We can all remember a specific memory and scent that’s associated with it. The smell of a certain cologne, perfume or flower might transport you back in time to remember a distant memory, person or event. The connections and possibilities are endless.

There ae plenty of statistics that prove the effectiveness and impact of scent marketing:

  • We are 100x more likely to remember something we can smell than something we can see, touch, or hear
  • 75% of the emotions we generate daily are affected by smell
  • Readership of advertising copy increases 136% when a scent is included
  • Smell has a greater impact on consumer purchase decision than all of the other senses combined
  • Print buyers and brand owners rate scented inks as offering the highest ROI over all other value-added print enhancements

With the continuing success of direct mail as a way to stand out and connect with consumers who are inundated by emails, scent offers the ability to add a deeper connect through the use of activated or non-activated coatings in direct mail campaigns.

Scent Innovation

At JohnsByrne, we can incorporate ambient (non-activated) as well as “scratch-off” (activated) coating fragrances that invite tactile sensory involvement – a “one-two punch” in the user experience. Moreover, given that scented coatings can be applied during the printing process on our state-of-the-art print presses, they are highly cost-effective. Especially when you consider that scented coatings deliver the highest ROI of any other value-added print enhancement.

JohnsByrne offers standard as well as custom developed scents to match a program or related brand scent. Rub and smell coatings are ideal for use on the outside of a direct mail piece to encourage consumer interaction. The scent area is suggested to be at least 2”x2” and can be applied using a varnish or aqueous coating and perform best on coated stocks. A graphic call out is needed to prompt a consumer to ‘scratch & sniff’ the scented area.

Ambient scents deliver fragrance without physical activation and have proven ROI used inside of envelopes or direct mail inserts. The coating is aqueous and is suggested to be a 24+ sq in area. Uncoated stocks perform best for this coating although coated stocks are acceptable.

Scented direct mailers are a growing trend in the marketplace to stop, hold, and captivate prospective and current consumers. The act of engaging the scent creates an emotional response which in turn increases response rates and ROI. And that is particularly impactful when fragrance marketing is paired carefully with campaign imagery, that “one-two punch” mentioned earlier. Fragrance, like imagery, can be associated with core brand attributes, a particular campaign theme, or even an individual commercial. In addition, scent can evoke experiential memories (think vacation), seasonal memories, lifestyle associations and much more.

USPS Tactile/Sensory/Interactive Promotion

And, when scented direct mailers are included with the USPS’s current Tactile/Sensory/Interactive promotions, it can provide net savings on direct mail programs. For 2023, the USPS will offer a Tactile, Sensory and Interactive (TSI) discount of 5%, pending approval of each execution.

In fact, JohnsByrne produced the first use of scent on an outer envelope. We recently produced a rub and smell acquisition direct mail campaign to increase response rate and drive ROI. The campaign included a fall scent with corresponding graphics inviting consumers to ‘scratch & sniff’ for the scents of fall. The envelopes also featured a matte & gloss finish and embossing for a tactile as well as sensory appeal.

The JohnsByrne Difference

Of course, achieving this kind of innovative high impact packaging on time and within budget, in keeping with a given brand’s strict quality requirements, demands an equally innovative approach to print manufacturing. At JohnsByrne, that means combining extensive in-house ingenuity, all relevant technical engineering capabilities, and tenacious client service in one location for single-source efficiency. All of this is also located in one of the industry’s most advanced, technologically superior pressrooms that’s backed by end-to-end quality practices.

And it includes the clear advantage of “institutional memory:” successful solutions for a given client are always available for later projects, ready to be adapted to a new challenge. It also allows our creative teams to offer genuine refinement to clients’ design concepts, including alternatives they hadn’t considered.

JohnsByrne’s teamwork, talent, commitment, and passion together with our singular business model, is the secret combination that gives JohnsByrne clients a competitive advantage with high impact direct mail that never fails to impress.

Contact us today to see how scent innovation can increase your response rates and drive ROI for your direct mail campaigns.


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