The Sneaky Way Cinnabon Attracts Customers

Spoiler alert: it's the cinnamon. Cinnabon's cinnamon is not just any variation of the spice. Bon Appétit investigated. Cinnabon uses special cinnamon that comes from the Korintjie region of West Sumatra in Indonesia. The high-volatile oil and cellulose content in Korintjie's cinnamon give off a powerful, intoxicating woodsy aroma that you undoubtedly (and perhaps exclusively) associate with the melt-in-your-mouth taste of a sweet Cinnabon cinnamon bun

Cinnabon, clearly, is a master of scents. In the world of scent marketing, companies use smells to strategically trigger their customers' emotions (via Harvard Business Review). And cinnamon is king. As Time journalist Martin Lindstrom noticed when out shopping in early November one year, cinnamon is indispensable to Christmastime marketing gimmicks geared at increasing consumer spending. Lindstrom tracked down modern brain imaging expert Dr. Gemma Calvert to find out why. Calvert knew the power of the heady spice well. When she tracked a group of volunteers' reactions to cinnamon smells on an fMRI scanner, she found that cinnamon scents stimulated the region in her volunteers' brains responsible for emotional engagement. What kind of emotional engagement?  Aromatherapists believe that smelling cinnamon can help improve your mood, your energy level, and your concentration (via Entrepreneur and Women's Day).   

Needless to say, Cinnabon goes out of its way to make sure that you can smell their cinnamon at its maximum potency, and that they can reap the awards of our positive, emotional reactions to it. 

How Cinnabon uses scent marketing

There's nothing unintentional about it. It starts with how Cinnabon prepares the spice itself. In order to ensure maximum potency, Cinnabon refrains from grinding the cinnamon it imports from Indonesia until it reaches US soil, says Bon Appétit. And the reason that you'll always see a Cinnabon oven located towards the front of a cafe?  That's store policy developed after Cinnabon tried placing their ovens further away from customers and watched as sales dropped dramatically (via Biz Journals). 

The tricks don't stop there. In some franchises, Cinnabon employees heat sheets of cinnamon mixed with brown sugar in the oven to ensure that Cinnabon's signature cinnamon scent is wafting vigorously enough. And to ensure that its enticing aroma never dies out, Cinnabon employees bake cinnamon rolls at least every 30 minutes in ovens with the "weakest hood possible" within legal recommendation, so that the smells can escape more easily (via Eater). (All the better to tempt you with, my love.) 

Finally, while you love a bit of garlic and onion on your breakfast sandwich, you won't find much of these ingredients on Cinnabon's deli offerings. And that also has to do with the power of cinnamon. Garlic and onion smell, as it would seem, don't dance with cinnamon scents the way that, say, maple syrup or cheddar cheese smells do.