Reporter: Helen Wellings

It's "the DNA of retail" - smells are now high science, in laboratories electronic noses are used by big companies to chemically create appealing odours, panels of shoppers act as guinea pigs to detect fragrances more likely to make them .. spend.

Call it building customer loyalty or just a very clever sales technique, retailers are having to become more sensory conscious to woo customers away from rivals. The right smell usually leads customers into a store and then to the cash register.

You won't notice these perfume puffers but your nose will. Already proven as an effective tool to snap and trap shoppers in the US and Europe, fragrances are now being used around Australia in thousands of retail stores, cafes, clubs, hotels and offices. Coffee chains lure passersby with a burst of manufactured coffee bean aroma, fashion stores puff out floral and fruit aromas, pubs squirt smells of ocean breezes or leather to mask bad ones.

"We have about 180 different fragrances in our range, ranging from coffee, chocolate, cut grass, right through to the latest European perfumes and aromatherapy fragrances as well." Mark Gordon of Ecomist is in the business of selling smells in a can. He calls it "aroma marketing" ... the science of selecting the right scent to target particular consumers.

Jeweller, Stuart Reid, who's been pumping out fragrances in his store for 5 years, has customers lingering longer, lost in time - a vital ingredient in the buying process. "More and more retailers, certainly Australia's because it's a very competitive market, are realising that the point of difference could well be the aroma they have in their space." Marketing expert, Michael Morrison of Monash University, calls using pumped fragrances "emotional branding" ... smells connect us to our earliest experiences. You can now get virtually any aroma, even baby powder, to lure customers at around $30 a month.

ECOMIST AUSTRALIA : 1800 243 500