The influence of food aromas on emotions, impression of food and restaurant, and congruent purchasing behaviors

Yuxia Ouyang, Purdue University


As the restaurant industry gets more challenging, employing food aromas in food stores to attract customer and promote sales is a frequently used marketing tactic. Combining S-O-R mechanism, nostalgic memories theory and processing fluency theory, the purpose of this study was to explore food aroma-stimulated effects on emotions, impression of food and restaurant, and entrée selections. After a series of pilot tests, a three-week study (Feb 9 th to Feb 27th) was conducted in a public restaurant when basil, bacon and hickory smoke aromas were present. An entrée containing ingredients congruent with the food aroma being diffused was tested each week. Daily sales were recorded during the period, as well as one week before and one after the survey. In total, 196 questionnaires were collected. T-test, logistic regression, Fisher’s exact test and general linear regression methods were used in data analysis. Food aromas were found to have a positive influence on emotions (on pleasure rather than arousal) and on customers’ impressions of the food and restaurant; however, hypotheses that food aromas have direct or indirect influence on congruent purchasing choices or that pleasant memories have strengthening effects on emotions were not supported. The findings have direct applications for the restaurant industry and offer suggestions for future study.




Behnke, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Food Science|Nutrition|Recreation

Off-Campus Purdue Users:
To access this dissertation, please log in to our
proxy server