TNT smells an opportunity

Despite the festive truce, there is little doubt that the autumn industrial action damaged the Royal Mail brand and led to an outflow of business to rivals.

One of those competitors, TNT Post, recently claimed that it had picked up customers for its courier business as a result of the strikes. Its chief financial officer, Henk van Dalen, added earlier this month that “customers might switch to TNT because they think Royal Mail isn’t reliable”.

Perhaps sniffing (forgive me in advance for what will soon be revealed as a terrible pun) a further opportunity to pickup business from its beleaguered rival, this week TNT revealed a new innovation: scented direct mail.

The optional touch activated aroma will, it is claimed, give users a greater return on investment and raise brand awareness by boosting emotional engagement.

Risible gimmick or innovative breakthrough?

As biologists would no doubt attest to, smell is among the most powerful of human senses, guaranteed to trigger a reaction. The theory goes that a combination of the right smell and graphics will also multiply the chances of a product or service becoming lodged in the memory of consumers.

Would a supermarket door drop for a coffee promotion scented with the aroma of cocoa beans trigger a spike in sales? Or prove to be an expensive indulgence with indistinguishable smells prompting even quicker disposable than usual?

Perfume and aftershave producers have for a long time used the technique in magazines to encourage trial and for other brands where a smell can illustrate a product benefit, the service could boost engagement.

By offering something different, TNT Post will also be hoping to gain some of the vast ground it currently concedes to Royal Mail as a producer of direct mail.

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