Medical facilities around the world have participated in research on scent marketing in healthcare. Studies have found that, from pediatric to elder care, certain ambient scents positively affect the patient experience. The use of scents in care facilities can improve mood and have beneficial physiological effects. Learn how and why scent marketing is being used in an increasing number of healthcare environments.
The Purpose of Scent Marketing In Healthcare
Scent marketing and aromatherapy are both being used in healthcare. Scent marketing is typically associated with branding and efforts to influence consumer behavior in commercial spaces, but it can also be effective for promoting certain effects on patients in medical care facilities and neutralizing bad odors.
Aromatherapy is a holistic healing method involving the use of scents known to have specific effects on individuals. Aromatherapy and scent marketing in healthcare go hand in hand, as the scents used in care environments tend to be oriented toward improving the patient experience by having a calming effect or encouraging other states of mind that are conducive to care and healing.
When a healthcare facility uses scent marketing techniques, the chosen scents tend to be selected to reduce stress and encourage emotional and mental states conducive to treatment. While brands may use distinctive scents in consumer-facing environments to stand out from other retailers, healthcare providers opt for scents that have proven effects that align with care and treatment goals.
Scents Frequently Used In Healthcare Facilities
Rather than making customers associate a fragrance with a brand, scent marketing in healthcare tends to focus on the aromatherapeutic properties of certain essential oils and fragrances. Some of the most common ambient scents selected for use in medical facilities include citrus, lavender and heliotropin and vanilla.
Citrus scents are invigorating and may increase attention and focus. Diffusing these types of scents can extend benefits to care providers as well as patients. A study found that ambient citrus fragrance can increase instances of handwashing among staff. In general, any clean scent can have a positive effect on perceptions of cleanliness among patients and providers.
Lavender is a soothing floral scent frequently used in aromatherapy. Studies have found that this scent can lower stress levels and improve cognitive function. Heliotropin or piperonal is an organic compound with a floral odor similar to that of vanillin. Vanilla is a popular choice of fragrance to promote calmness and relaxation.
Scent Marketing In Healthcare Studies
A landmark study on scent and anxiety in the context of magnetic resonance imaging was published in 1994. This study found 57 outpatients who smelled the vanilla-like fragrance of heliotropin in humidified air reported 63% less anxiety than patients who were exposed to unscented humidified air. Similarly, the use of vanilla at a Florida hospital reduced the need for sedation and halved procedure cancellation rates.
Other facilities have experimented with scents for other purposes. A 2008 study at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine involved the use of lavender bath oil in infant baths. Mothers of babies treated with lavender bath oil were more relaxed and showed more signs of bonding with their children. The infants treated with lavender cried less and slept more after bathing. This study found that soothing scents can lower cortisol levels in babies and adults.
Some scent marketing in healthcare studies go beyond the holistic effects on patients to explore the cognitive effects of scent exposure. For instance, a 2006 study in Japan focused on how tea tree oil might inhibit the activity of an enzyme that affects neurotransmission in patients who have Alzheimer’s disease. Many studies focus on using aromatherapy and scent marketing in a more general way to improve patients’ states of mind.
Effective Scent Use In Care Facilities
The range of research on scents demonstrates that there are many ways to experiment with scent marketing in healthcare. One of the safest approaches involves the use of a diffuser and fragrances consisting exclusively of organic essential oils and artificial fragrances that comply with International Fragrance Association safety standards.
A Whole Home Scenting diffuser is an easy, effective and safe way to administer scent treatments in any care facility. These diffuser systems can be connected to the outflow ducting of a central air system to circulate a scent throughout an entire facility. It is also possible to use these diffusers as standalone units to release a scent in a particular area or vary the scents used in different parts of a medical facility.
Some of the best scents for use in healthcare contexts include Lavender Vanilla, Simply Citrus and Lemongrass. Lavender Vanilla brings together two scents recognized across multiple studies as having calming effects, while Simply Citrus and Lemongrass are more invigorating fragrances. Care facility managers should select scents with known effects that correspond to treatment goals.
How To Do Scent Marketing In Healthcare
It is important to take a responsible approach to scent marketing in the context of healthcare. A diffuser system from Whole Home Scenting does not pose the risks of aromatherapy methods that involve open flame or direct exposure to essential oils. Many blends contain both natural essential oils and IFRA-certified artificial fragrances, the latter of which being less likely to cause allergic reactions.
Whole Home Scenting diffusers are simple to set up and enable facilities managers to control the strength of a fragrance. These systems can also be set up to work on a schedule. Most scent marketing in healthcare studies find the best responses to ambient scents that are not overpowering but provide subtle positive effects associated with the character of the scent or the ability of a fragrance to cover or neutralize undesirable odors.
Most studies recommend the use of ambient scent marketing in healthcare. Based on the location, a facility owner or manager may prefer scents that have calming effects or promote particular emotional and physiological responses. Too-powerful fragrances have the potential to distract patients or result in negative reactions. Well-chosen ambient scents from Whole Home Scenting can have positive effects when evenly diffused in healthcare facilities.