A few short days ago, Barry Barnett, Nova Scotia’s Health Promotion Minister, said that 20% of the province’s population consume alcohol in a manner harmful to their health, and that consumption leads to an estimate cost of $419 million to the province annually.
Naturally, this was followed up by an effort by the provincial government, lead by it’s liquor commission to reduce the consumption of alcohol among Nova Scotians in an effort to promote healthier living. Not! This is what would happen if in a sane province with a responsible government. Instead, the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission began a program of using scents to undercut consumers’ rational purchasing brain to promote the purchase of more liquor at Nova Scotia’s many liquor stores.
The commission defends the practice by saying the scented “advertisements” in the stores are intended to simply create an atmosphere in which a customer might be more likely to “up-buy” a more expensive product, not in fact purchase more. Most of us will recognize this as a minor twist on the argument tobacco companies used to try to keep advertisements in the public space – “we’re competing with each other, not promoting smoking per se“. It was a specious argument then, and it smells no different now.
If scents work this way, we could boost the sales of swankier prod more effectively, all the while reducing overall consumption by not excluding half of the power of scent. Why simply draw customers to the “better” selections with pleasant smells – why not push them their with unpleasant ones? You could blow the eau de ass and bag sweat in the Budweiser, Labbat’s and Molson sections of the beer aisle and draw customers to the Guinness and Propeller aisles with the smell of sweet fresh-mown lawn. Problem solved – the NSLC sells more expensive intoxicants while at the same time consumption does not increase.