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The Scent in Abercrombie Stores Is Giving Shoppers Serious Anxiety A new study about the impact of scent at retail suggests that consumers are being put off by the retailer's flagship cologne, Fierce, which courses pungently through its 276 stores.

By Geoff Weiss

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

An exclusionary tirade by CEO Mike Jeffries is not the only means by which beleaguered Abercrombie & Fitch is offending its customers today. According to a new study out of Concordia University, the store's notorious aroma could be giving shoppers serious anxiety.

The study concluded that in crowded stores such as Abercrombie, shoppers felt most comfortable with smells alluding to open spaces, such as green apple and seashore.

On the other hand, in vast and empty shops, such as Apple stores, consumers preferred more intimate scents, like firewood and buttered popcorn.

At Abercrombie, noted Concordia professor Bianca Grohmann, the musky and masculine Fierce cologne courses pungently through ventilation systems. It is also corporate policy for employees to spray merchandise directly. Accordingly, this imparts a subliminal desire to flee.

Related: Abercrombie & Fitch: Bad Business or Smart Targeting?

"You don't really want to stick around, you don't want to spend time in the store and you don't want to look at merchandise," Grohmann told The Huffington Post.

And now, in the face of dipping sales -- as well as Jeffries' controversial remarks -- the retailer is looking to turn back the dial on its multi-sensory assault in-store to appeal to wider audiences.

In addition to curbing perfume spritzes by 25 percent, the retailer is also turning up the lights and lowering the volume on its pulsating background music. Ads featuring scantily-clad models are being reimagined to focus on actual clothes, and larger sizes will be available in addition to a brand new color for the company: black.

Abercrombie & Fitch operates 253 stores in the U.S. and 23 internationally. In first quarter results last week, the company announced an overall sales loss of 2 percent -- a slighter loss than analysts anticipated.

Related: 6 Scents That Can Transform Your Mood and Productivity

Geoff Weiss

Former Staff Writer

Geoff Weiss is a former staff writer at Entrepreneur.com.

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