Using Scent for Innovating Services: Opportunity for Business Partners in Switzerland

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In today’s experience economy the service sector faces severe challenges: Services are simultaneously produced and consumed, and above all in most cases intangible. Forward looking companies increasingly use services for creating experiences that are stimulating for the customer: the more senses an experience engages, the more effective and memorable it can be. Thus, shoeshine operators augment the smell of polish with crisp snaps of the cloth, scents and sounds that don’t make the shoes any shinier but do make the experience more engaging.* We even heard about maintenance and elevator engineers who use common consumer scents available in supermarkets to make their technical service tangible to the customer.

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However, beyond this anecdotal evidence the Scent Culture Institute is in the midst of starting a new study to systematically analyze the role of scent for designing and delivering services. This study should involve business partners from different types of services (e.g. technical services, mail services, personal services etc.). In a first preliminary step we want to analyze the potential relevance of the sense of smell for the participating business partners. This service specific list of risks and opportunities will then be used to identify and to further specify opportunities for innovating the service offering of the participating business partners. At this stage, however, we are looking for business partners from the service sector that are eager to exploit the innovative potential of the sense of smell. At Bern University of Applied Sciences this type of applied research could even be eligible for public project funding. In fact, this funding scheme is one of the secrets of the impressive track record of the Swiss economy.

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*Source: Joseph Pine & James Gilmore, The Experience Economy