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The Challenge

Enhanced Air; The Latest Scam To Get Your Money


Retail stores are getting so desperate for your dollars they are trying every trick in the book to make you want to buy their products once you enter the front door.


Ever notice how the smell of cooking food or baked goods greets you as you enter a supermarket, or how certain kinds of music is being played, or the way certain products are moved from place to place to make you search? These are all proven methods of tricking you into compulsive buying, so that you leave the store spending much more money than you intended.


And now comes the latest gimmick; enhanced air.


Enhanced Air Technologies, of Vancouver, Canada, is marketing a new synthetic compound it calls Commercaire pheromone. When mixed with the air you breathe, it gives people a maternal sense of comfort and happiness.


You might liken it to a temporary fix on an airborne Prozac. You can flit through the store wearing rose colored glasses, happily filling your shopping basket with all kinds of wonderful things you don't need and may never use, but enjoying every moment of your buying experience.


This is not just a product that you may come in contact with at some future date. It is already here. The company is marketing the product but will not reveal which stores are already pumping this sneaky gas into its air. I suspect it may be the stores where you like shopping the most but don't know just why.


Commercaire is filtered into the store through air ducts. It is odourless so you dont know you are breathing it. Store owners use it to relax customers so they will stay longer and buy more.


Nigel Malkin, director of development for Enhanced Air, defends the product. He said the pheromone only puts customers at ease. It does not force them to do anything against their will. Now that is great to know. At least we won't have our women getting secretly raped by store clerks in the back room as they happily meander through the store.


"It doesn't put people into a buying frenzy or anything like that," he said. "This will just make them feel more relaxed and give them a fond memory of the environment they've been exposed to. That can breed customer loyalty," Malkin said.


The article I read said Wal-Mart, Sears and Home Depot all denied using pheromones in their stores, but that was then. Who knows what can happen if this product proves to be as effective as its makers claim. They say retailers can expect revenue growth ranging between nine and 20 percent by using the product.


Pheromones have been an ingredient used by some perfume and cologne makers because they are supposed to attract the opposite sex. All animals, insects and even people produce natural odourless scents, or pheromones that triggers a variety of emotional responses from those around us.


Malkin said the product is sold in various sized refillable cartridges ranging from $300 to $450 for commercial buildings, to $96 for home use.  He said when used in the home, the results are very relaxing.


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