Marketing is an art. It's also a science. And nowhere is that more apparent than in the hospitality and retail industries, where increased dollars can frequently be attributed to scents.

Scent marketing, as it is called, is proven to increase a customer's willingness to buy, boost sales and revenue, create memorable experiences, differentiate your brand, increase dwell-time, improve brand loyalty and on and on. Yet first understanding the science side is important.

Our sense of smell is our oldest evolved sense. It cannot be turned off but instead works around the clock. It differs from the other four senses as smell is processed in the part of the brain responsible for memory, emotion and perception. In fact, people can remember smells with 65 percent accuracy after a year.

It stands to reason then that it plays a key role in memory association and affects as much as 75 percent of our daily emotions. Scent marketing, in turn, uses that basis in understanding to help create specific emotional responses and memories in consumers through, you guessed it, smells.

The ROI that comes from including scenting as an essential marketing program tactic has been well proven by brand luminaries like Nike, Abercrombie & Fitch and most major hotel groups. Yet, as with any brand-building strategy, scent marketing is fast evolving. Custom scents are now replacing the generic assortment of choices once offered and companies are looking for creative ways to expand their custom scent touchpoints. Think pillow mist, soaps, reeds, etc. And likewise, companies are looking for inspiration from other cultures and geographies.

As principal of Rezaroma, the Middle East’s scent marketing leader and a member of the International Fragrance Association, I see great opportunity in the marketing realm to build on the science of scent and cultural diversity considerations to produce innovative research- and fact-based sales and customer satisfaction results. In fact, at Rezaroma, we have taken a progressive approach to the fragrance marketing discipline by creating signature scents for clients from an in-house team of skilled fragrance designers while also offering on-demand fragrances derived from the 10,000+ references in our fragrance library. Those scents are strategically developed as an intrinsic piece of the client’s brand identity. We even have created odor neutralizers because, as we all know, scents do not always have pleasant associations.

As with any effective marketing tactic, fragrance will continue to rely on reinvention and creativity to sustain its effectiveness in driving revenue. Yet unlike some other marketing strategies and tactics, science will always play a co-starring role in determining how it can be best used for the greatest ROI.