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Stores Use the Smell of Chocolate to Boost Sales

Stores Use the Smell of Chocolate to Boost Sales

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A new study reveals that a chocolate aroma increases the likelihood that customers will make a purchase

Recent studies show that customers are more likely to make a purchase if a store smells like chocolate.

You may already know the long list of health benefits associated with eating chocolate, but did you know that its aroma could also convince you to spend more?

New research published by the Hasselt University in Belgium suggests that the having the smell of chocolate in the air at bookstores encourages customers to spend more time browsing for books, thus making them more likely to make a purchase.

In the study, the researchers spent 10 days in a local bookstore near the university and infused a chocolate aroma into the shop’s air for half of its business hours. The researchers then analyzed the behavior of customers, finding they were, on average, twice as likely to look at more than one book when the chocolate smell was present.

Beyond merely causing people to linger, the smell of chocolate actually boosted overall book sales by 40 percent, especially for certain genres, like romance and food-related books. Additionally, the study found that women were seemingly more affected by the chocolate smell than were the men.

This is great news for independent book retailers looking to get an edge on major online booksellers like Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Retail booksellers have experienced somewhat stagnant or even declining sales in the past several years, as ecommerce and e-book sellers have increased in popularity.

This new concept of “scent marketing,” however, could really turn those numbers around.

And these findings don’t only apply to selling books. A similar 2008 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that the smell of chocolate chip cookies in clothing stores made women more likely to make an impulsive clothing purchase than women who were not exposed to the scent.

On the other side of the equation, this study reveals one more form of marketing that we as consumers need to be aware of. Next time you go shopping, be aware of your surroundings, because they may be convincing you to buy something you might not otherwise want.

How do supermarkets tempt you to spend more money?

When supermarkets first opened in the UK people were afraid to pick up items and put them in their trolley for fear of being told off. Now we have the opposite problem we can’t stop ourselves from picking stuff up.

The average UK shopper makes 221 trips to the supermarket every year, giving us ample opportunity to buy food we don't need, but why do we do this?

To understand, you must step into the meticulously managed marketing zone that is a supermarket, where millions have been invested into figuring out how to get you to buy more.


Nice work. You just found recipes for all your favorite famous foods! Bestselling author and TV Host Todd Wilbur shows you how to easily duplicate the taste of iconic dishes and treats at home for less money than eating out. Todd’s recipes are easy to follow and fun to make! Find your favorite copycat recipes from Chili's here. New recipes added every week.

  • American Coney Island
  • Applebee's
  • Arby's
  • Auntie Anne's
  • Bahama Breeze
  • Baja Fresh
  • Barney's Beanery
  • Baskin-Robbins
  • Benihana
  • Bennigan's
  • Big Boy
  • BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse
  • Bob Evans
  • Bojangles'
  • Bonchon
  • Bonefish Grill
  • Boston Market
  • Buca di Beppo
  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Burger King
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • Capital Grille
  • Carl's Jr.
  • Carnegie Deli
  • Carrabba's
  • Cheeseburger in Paradise
  • Cheesecake Factory
  • Cheddar's
  • Chevys
  • Chi-Chi's
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Chili's
  • Chipotle
  • Cinnabon
  • Claim Jumper
  • Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
  • Cosmic Wings
  • Cracker Barrel
  • Dairy Queen
  • Del Taco
  • Denny's
  • Dive!
  • Domino's
  • DoubleTree
  • Dunkin' Donuts
  • Einstein Bros. Bagels
  • El Pollo Loco
  • Emeril's

Over the years I've hacked a bunch of items from Chili's menu, including their Fajitas, Baby Back Ribs, Salsa, Chili Queso, Southwestern Eggrolls, Chicken Crispers, Boneless Wings, and more, but it wasn’t until recently that I got the chance to work on a hack for the chain’s award-winning Original Chili. Why it took so long, I have no idea.

The chili served at Chili’s is a Texas-style con carne recipe, which traditionally means no beans and no tomato. You won’t find any beans in this recipe or chunks of tomato, but their chili does have a tomato base to boost flavor, so I’m adding that into the mix by including one 6-ounce can of tomato paste. As it turns out, that small can is just the right amount.

The preparation technique is simple: brown the beef, drain off the fat, then add some of the fat back to the empty pan to sauté the onions and peppers in. When those are done, you add the beef back to the pan along with the remaining ingredients and simmer for 1½ hours. That will be just long enough to braise the beef and tenderize it, and to thicken the chili to a perfect consistency.

When the chili’s done, top each serving with a cheddar/pepper Jack blend, and some crispy tortilla bits. Then pass out the spoons.

Check here more of my Chili's copycat recipes.

Menu Description: "Crispy breaded chicken breast topped with sweet and spicy ginger-citrus sauce. Served with spicy-cool wasabi-ranch dressing for dipping."

So you're into boneless wings but you need a break from the traditional cayenne flavor of the Buffalo style. If fresh ginger-laced sweet-and-sour sauce sounds seducing, here is a variation worth snacking on. Along with the secret sauce recipe here is an easy way to fabricate a carbon copy of Chili's great wasabi-ranch dipping sauce just by adding a few ingredients to Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. I suggest adding one drop of green food coloring to the sauce to give it the same green tint of the original. The wasabi powder won't add much color, so this is the trick. You can find the dry powdered form of wasabi horseradish in the supermarket aisle with the other Asian foods.

Check out my other recipes for Chili's famous dishes here.

If you like soup that's packed with veggies, that's low in fat, and has some Southwestern punch to it, this is the soup for you. Just toss all the ingredients in a pot and simmer. Garnish with some shredded cheese and crumbled tortillas, and warm up your insides.

Menu Description: "Warm chocolate cake w/chocolate fudge filling. Topped w/vanilla ice cream under a crunchy chocolate shell."

Get out your "easy" button for this one. The clone recipe for this top-requested Chili's dessert is easy to make—and can even be made days ahead of time. A chocolate fudge cake mix is all you need for the cake part of the recipe. The cake batter is poured into the large cups of a Texas-size muffin pan. When the cakes are done and cooled, you make a secret hole where the hot chocolate is loaded. Now you can keep the cakes chilled until dessert time. To serve, heat a cake, plop a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, and top it off with some Magic Shell, (a chocolate topping that hardens on ice cream) that you can make from scratch with my recipe here. When your diners dig into the cake, the delicious hot fudge center oozes out of the warm chocolate cake.

For a live demonstration of this clone recipe check out this video.

The rums, Cointreau, and juices create an island flavor that anyone will love. This drink is named after its tendency to leave you passed out on the beach before applying sunscreen.

Get your drink on with more famous cocktail recipes here.

Menu Description: "Topped with vanilla ice cream under a hard chocolate shell."

After the success of the Molten Chocolate Cake, Chili's chefs went back into the development kitchen and emerged with this incredible white chocolate variation that has become the new go-to meal ender. Just as with my clone for the Molten Chocolate Cake in Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2, I found that an instant cake mix is the perfect solution to quickly and easily copy this awesome dish. It just so happens that Duncan Hines Butter Recipe cake mix produces a butter cake that perfectly matches the moist, buttery cake in the Chili's original. For the molten white chocolate inside the cake we mix melted white chocolate chips with cream and then spoon the creamy mixture into a hole cut into each cake. Pop the filled cakes into your refrigerator, and then when you're ready to serve the dessert, nuke each one in the microwave to heat up the filling, add ice cream and a little white chocolate on top, and serve. This is a great make-ahead dish since the loaded cakes can be stored in your refrigerator for a couple days (or even longer in your freezer), and when you're ready to plate the impressive dessert each serving only takes a minute or two to set up.

This super simple Chili's salsa recipe can be made in a pinch with a can of diced tomatoes, some canned jalapeños, fresh lime juice, onion, spices, and a food processor or blender. Plus you can easily double the recipe by sending in a larger 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, and simply doubling up on all the other ingredients. Use this versatile salsa as a dip for tortilla chips or plop it down onto any dish that needs flavor assistance—from eggs to taco salads to wraps to fish. You can adjust the Chili's salsa recipe heat level to suit your taste by tweaking the amount of canned jalapeños in the mix.

Now, what's for dinner? Check out some copycat entrees from your favorite restaurants here.

Menu Description: "Smoked chicken, black beans, corn, jalapeno Jack cheese, red peppers and spinach wrapped inside a crispy flour tortilla. We serve it with our avocado-ranch dipping sauce."

Chili's was the first chain to popularize the Southwestern-style eggroll, but as with any successful menu item, clones have been popping up on other major chains' appetizer menus over the past several years. Even though it's more like a small chimichanga than an eggroll, this appetizer is a fabulous creation with monster flavor. A flour tortilla is stuffed with a spicy blend of corn, green onions, black beans, spinach, jalapeno peppers, Monterey Jack cheese and spices then it's deep-fried. Slice the fried rolls diagonally, dunk the wedges into a creamy avocado ranch sauce, and you've done your taste buds a solid. Make these several hours before you plan to serve them so that they can freeze before frying (it's a great dish to make a day ahead of a party or event). This freezing step will help the outside fry to a golden brown, but the eggrolls will stay folded, and oil won't seep in. Assembling the eggrolls takes a little time, so if you like these, I suggest making a double batch. Since you'll be freezing them, you'll have extra on hand in the freezer ready to cook with just a little additional effort.

When I hacked this recipe on my TV show "Top Secret Recipe" I learned that the only way to make ribs taste just like the famous original version from Chili's is to smoke them with pecan wood chips. I had access to the development kitchen at Chili's corporate headquarters in Dallas where I discovered that the chain uses a special commercial smoker made by Convotherm that is preprogrammed to first smoke the ribs and then steam them until tender. To stimulate the steam function in a home smoker, you will need to spray the ribs with a little water every half hour in the second half of the cooking process.

It is also important to use the right kind of ribs if you want the perfect clone. Get well-trimmed baby backs that aren't too thick. Chili's ribs are trimmed pretty close to the bone to ensure even smoking and grilling. I also learned on the show that the chain wraps up the hot ribs in plastic wrap and foil immediately after they are smoked and before they are finished on the grill to help make them extra tender. You can skip this step if you are rushed, but if you have the time to work it in, the meat will fall off the bone on the way to your mouth.

If you don't have a smoker, you can still use the seasoning and sauce recipes here and turn out some great ribs. You can give the ribs their great smokey flavor using a smoking box found on some grills, or by folding pecan wood chips into a pouch made from foil and cutting a couple of slices into the top of the foil so that the smoke can come out. Place the pouch over low heat to one side of your closed grill. Occasionally spray the ribs with water to keep them from drying out and smoke them for 2 to 4 hours, depending on how hot your grill is, then grill and baste them following this recipe.

I've cloned a ton of Chili's famous dishes. See if I hacked your favorites here.

If you always wondered where the name of these tiny chocolate treats came from, it has nothing to do with actual kissing. It actually got its name from the sound that the chocolate makes when coming out of a machine during the manufacturing process.

Ruth Wakefield, a.k.a. "the mother of chocolate chip cookies," sold her now-famous recipe to Nestle, but she didn't receive any money for it. Instead, all she wanted was a lifetime supply of chocolate, which is a deal I'm sure we'd all take.

You Won't Even Recognize The McDonald's Of The Future

The decades-old burger chain is trying to keep up with the times.

McDonald's hallmark bright red and yellow restaurants will soon become history as the brand begins a total redesign of its franchisees across the country.

After a battle with slumping sales over the last few years (despite the return of all-day breakfast), the 60-year-old company has decided to give its franchisees a face-lift. That means you can start saying goodbye clownish colors, harsh fluorescent lights, cheap formica tables, and wood veneer.

In just a few years, the fast-food industry has become increasingly competitive as sleek, slightly more upscale chains like Shake Shack emerge and gain popularity. Following this trend, McDonald's will be ditching its long used cafeteria-like dining room in favor of designs that make the restaurant feel more intimate. Max Carmona, the company's senior director of U.S. restaurant design, told Buzzfeed News that the "cafeterias aren't stylish, but it's a legacy." The Golden Arches was also motivated by direct competitors like Burger King and Wendy's, who have recently upgraded their outposts with modern seating and wall decor. Some Wendy's locations even have fireplaces.

But the upgrades have also been sparked by the brand's own technological advances like self-service, touchscreen burger kiosks and table service. "A lot of the things we're doing now in terms of menu, technology, and customization, I don't think you can do that effectively in a non-modernized restaurant," Carmona said. "Modernized restaurants are the foundation for all these great ideas and innovations."

Stores Use the Smell of Chocolate to Boost Sales - Recipes

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Buying and Storing

Many different varieties of black tea, including flavored, are readily available and sold as tea bags or loose leaves. The boxes of tea bags can be purchased at major supermarkets while the pouches or bulk tea leaves are more often found at health food stores, specialty tea shops, and online.

Tea should be kept in a cool, dark place such as a cabinet, drawer, or the pantry. Do not store tea bags or leaves in glass jars as exposure to light will damage the tea over time and alter the flavor. It is best to keep the tea in the manufacturer's box or in a tin container.

6: Orange

Orange is a bright, bold color that doesn’t have red’s heart-palpitation urgency. It also doesn’t suffer as much as red does from being toned and tinted – pale reds aren’t easy on the eye, and dark reds are difficult to see text against, but orange will support a far greater tonal range.

That’s the technical side. Orange features heavily in many websites, where it’s used for calls to action and buy buttons. It stands out clearly against a lot of different backgrounds, and some of its success may be down to the fact that it’s a comparatively rare brand color so an orange button is often the only orange thing on the page.

What does orange do for sales?

Orange is a common choice for conversion elements in clean, simple-looking websites. It stands out clearly from the majority of color schemes and it’s a color that people feel positively about – even though it’s in both men’s and women’s bottom three colors.

Where can you see it in action?

Penguin has orange branding, orange subscribe buttons…

Basically, everything clickable on the page is orange.

And check out how Blogger uses orange.

It’s a classic, simple signup page.

But it’s also a background slider. As the slider turns, we see two more background colors.

But the signup button stays orange, because it looks bright, legible and coherent against all those different backgrounds.

How should you use it?

Check out how Harley Davidson use orange:

Against a dark background, bold orange stands out. The color is picked up in menu items, and even echoed in the red of the featured bike’s back springs. Most importantly, the whole site is in the colors of the logo: black, orange and white.

Target Boosts Growth During Covid-19 Pandemic, at Rivals’ Expense

Sarah Nassauer

Covid-19 helped Target Corp. get much bigger.

Target said Tuesday that holiday sales rose solidly, capping off a year when the Minneapolis-based retailer increased revenue by more than it had in the previous 11 years combined.

Comparable sales, those from stores and digital channels operating for at least 12 months, rose nearly 21% in the fiscal quarter ended Jan. 30, boosted by strong demand for online services, including same-day order pickup and delivery. For the full fiscal year, revenue hit $93.6 billion, a 20% increase.

“Following years of investment to build a durable, scalable and sustainable business model, we saw record growth in 2020,” said Chief Executive Brian Cornell.

In recent years Target has ramped up investments in online services. Instead of spending heavily to establish a massive network of online fulfillment warehouses, Target has used stores as hubs to ship online orders or allow shoppers to pick up their orders from store parking lots.

Using Scent as a Marketing Tool, Stores Hope It--and Shoppers--Will Linger

Sarah Nassauer

The smell of success, for many stores, is now an actual smell.

As more shops add odor, the battle for noses is getting intense. Restaurants are adjusting recipes to make aromas more concentrated and pleasant. Stores are installing discreet misters to diffuse essence of tea, wood and other scents into the air.

Stores relying most on aroma to draw in customers or nudge them to buy more have found achieving the right scent is complex. One person's sweet aroma is another's stench. A store's smell has to be powerful enough to lure in customers yet not offend neighboring businesses and landlords.

Cinnabon, the bakery chain, places ovens near the front of its stores so the enticing smell of warm cinnamon rolls escapes when oven doors open, says Kat Cole, president of Cinnabon, a unit of Focus Brands Inc. The bakeries are intentionally located in malls or airports, not outside, so smells can linger. Over time, the company has recognized that aroma is a huge part of its formula, Ms. Cole says. Putting ovens in the back of stores at a test location "significantly" lowered sales, she says.

Cinnamon rolls are baked at least every 30 minutes. Some store operators heat additional sheets of brown sugar and cinnamon to keep the aroma in the air, she says.


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