It is no coincidence that when you walk into Woolworths, the smell of baking fills the air causing your stomach to grumble. Scent marketing has been used for many years; after all, my grandmother used the scent of dinner cooking to call her children home for the evening.
Café owners who have thrown coffee beans onto the bitumen outside their premises for the cars to grind and fill the air with the aroma of freshly ground coffee have seen a significant uptake in sales. Scent is processed by the limbic system in our brain, which is responsible for memory and emotion processes.
It can trigger a memory or desire that influences your buying decisions. The smell of baking bread, synonymous with family, home and comfort wafts through the air, and your buying responses are activated. Have you ever noticed how irresistible a Subway store is as you walk past to the aroma of baking bread?
Not just a strategy to be applied by business and political leaders, it has long been historically recognised as a way for women to influence the men in their life’s decision making. Greasing the wheels of difficult conversations with a dinner prepared to set a positive disposition.
Our stomachs are now often referred to as our second brain, so every time you eat a good meal you are bombarding your brain with a feast of chemicals, some of which are known to make you more receptive to persuasion.
It is why business deals are often discussed over a good meal, and it is why state occasions almost always involve a lavish banquet. “Dining Diplomacy”, a skill that has been deployed for centuries to influence people and win arguments at the dinner table.
Thomas Jefferson is reported to have settled a long-standing feud between James Madison and Alexander Hamilton over a private supper held in his New York Apartment. Plying them with Capon stuffed with Virginia ham, boeuf a la mode and baked Alaska he had the two agree to a compromise while drinking vintage wine. This meal secured the future of Washington DC.
So when looking to improve your leadership skills in the art of persuasion, perhaps it is the culinary arts you should be learning and bread, you should be baking.