Multi-sensory innovation in management education

Working with the business world is a way to show the impact of research. It has been our ambition to make scent culture research relevant for business from the outset. This post features a few milestones (i.e. industry workshops, management education) demonstrating how this is going forward. 

The use of scent contributes to branding and ultimately drives sales. This is common wisdom. And at the same time it is exactly this common wisdom that actually triggers harsh criticism: “This is manipulation”. Thus, proponents as well as opponents of scent marketing argue along a simple cause and effect logic. In this context, our research experience connects empirical scrutiny to broader cultural studies. In fact, we have been developing an alternative approach that focuses on the innovative potential of the sense of smell. This broader approach looks at the customer experience with an integrated framework in mind and mobilizes the potential of the sense of smell. What are some key elements:

Products are multi-sensory and olfactory artifacts. And by the same token, it is not the service script but the overall multi-sensory experience that counts. What is the opportunity here? Well, if we think of a product as a multi-sensory artifact we analyze the multi-sensory potential and derive new products and services from this analysis. Along these lines we have recently discussed the car as an olfactory artifact and identified products and services derived from its multi-sensory potential.

Olfactory notes are another element. Olfactory note are not just out there to show a simple cause and effect. Instead, olfactory notes carry cultural meanings and follow trajectories through cultural history. Along the journey the meaning of an olfactory note is continuously negotiated. And this is an opportunity for all sorts of of marketing activities as well. What might have been despised on the fringes can be acceptable tomorrow. Just think about the odors of tobacco consumption.

By now insiders might realize that our approach is very much in line with contemporary consumer culture theory  And we are happy that we have been developing this approach in continuous dialogue with practitioners.

Scent culture business roadmap

Yesterday, we had the chance to contribute to the executive education program at Bern University of Applied Sciences. In fact, we ran a full day with the CAS Advanced Business Studies in Bern. After a sequence of inputs and exercises the participants used the scent culture business roadmap to work on their own case. And next week, we are running a workshop with a major automotive company to help them develop new solutions as well. Management education as well as business workshops are not meant to be documented on the internet. But we thought it is worth mentioning as well.

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