Brand marketers have long been intrigued with the use of scent as a potential differentiating feature. Maybe it all started with Smell-O-Vision, an ill-fated technology that was used to pump different smells throughout movie theaters in 1960. Smell-O-Vision stunk — it died after just one movie.
Nowadays, scent is a key part of any number of beauty and cosmetic products, typically targeting women. Increasingly, though, scent plays an important role in men's products, especially deodorants. And the latest innovation is a masculine knock-off of a concept that was first aimed at women in 2005 — the scented razor.
Bic debuted a disposable women's razor with a scented in handle, but Gillette and Schick soon copied the idea and women's scented razors became commonplace. Now Schick's Xtreme3 Refresh will be the first scented razor for men, says the company, as it attempts to gain market share in an extremely competitive category.
Richard Michaud, Schick's senior global programming engineer, tells the New York Times that "the razor is probably the only thing left in the shower that's not scented."
Schick's new razor embeds a subtle scent, which it describes as a combination of spearmint, citrus and rosemary, into the rubber portion of the handle. The company already offers a "Hawaiian Tropic" scented Xtreme3 razor for women. Schick says tests with the scented razor suggest that men liked the idea enough to choose a scented razor over a non-scented one.
To introduce the razor, which hits stores later this month, Schick is using an obvious but supremely appropriate technology that is already an accepted form of promotion — scratch-and-sniff packaging.
The razor will depend on an online marketing campaign that launches June 17th in association with a Nascar-focused promotion, the "Get Fresh Tour," being promoted on its Facebook page. NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr. is the official pitchman, while Schick will provide special "refresh stations" at 10 Sprint Cup races this summer where the scent will be diffused onto fans and misters (in all senses of those words). NASCAR enthusiasts who attend the races will be able to try the new razors at the refresh stations.
Suma Nagaraj, brand manager for the Schick Xtreme3 line, told the Times that Schick hopes young first-time male shavers will get hooked. She suggests that "the scent provides an additional linkage with this razor that strengthens their bond with it. Scent is so evocative, and as they grow older we want this scent to be kind of another anchor that's in their brain for this razor." Well okay, then.
Schick is the latest brand to pick up on scent marketing. According to the Times, large retailers routinely use scent to engage consumers, changing the scent based on the department the shopper is in. Bloomingdale's, for example, uses the scent of baby powder in its infant department.
But that's not all. By Christmas, consumers will be able to purchase the ScentScape, described as a "digital scent delivery system," that will work in conjunction with certain PC-based video games, spewing out up to twenty scents (for $70) at appropriate times.
Apparently, marketers who offer consumers scented experiences are hoping the sweet smell of cash reaches their noses.