10 Products You Should Sniff Before Buying

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Learn how to sniff out the best quality products with 10 simple tips. Smelling products before buying them can save you money and time.

There are ten reasons you should sniff certain products before buying them.

I’m sure you’ve never considered many of them, but they will benefit you greatly.

Discover the power of smelling before you buy products from the grocery store or Costco.

Let’s explore each of these ten everyday products.

product sniff test
Sniff everyday products before you buy them at the grocery store.
Sniff simple products before you buy them at the grocery store.

Never Underestimate The Power Of Quality

To smell is a gift; we often shop with our eyes and nose because trying products first isn’t always an option.

For this reason, you’ll see customers hovering around the sample booth on the weekends when the aroma of food permeates the air.

Even displays of household products become attractive if customers see how products work.

Costco is another store that offers samples to customers, and the smell hits you the moment you walk into the store.

Scent Markers Throughout A Store

It’s not uncommon to find that a grocery store has artificial aroma sensors strategically placed around it to motivate shoppers to buy more.

These scent machines are far less expensive than hiring a sample company, and they work.

At Staples Canada a couple of years back, we could smell the aroma of delicious coffee throughout the store as it caught us off guard.

It hit us hard as coffee lovers, and we wanted a coffee.

When we were checking out at the cashier, we asked the cashier if they sold coffee, and she said yes but that there was an aroma sensor on one of the main beams in the store.

She pointed to it, and we felt like we had just got Punked. (that means tricked into believing we smelled and wanted coffee)

Sniffing and smelling have the same meaning, and when it comes to product purchases, we should use our nose smells to guide our wallets.

Let’s forget about all the genius ways the stores are marketing the air sniff to capture customer attention and focus on our noses momentarily.

Smell or Price

What’s more critical, smell or price?

I asked this question last night on CBB Facebook;

Question: What is the main reason that you buy a product? Is it the smell or the price that Is most important?

If both are necessary, are you willing to pay more for the product?

Judy Finch Conte replied,

Both is a must. I will wait for a sale to stock up and I will even stock up if I’m already stocked up from the last sale.

CanadianBudgetBinder Judy Finch Conte stock up the stock up, lol.

So, if you find a brand that smells good, you’ll wait until a sale comes around and stock up; otherwise, you won’t buy it at the regular price.

Exactly except I need unscented products or stuff that smells like a pure citrus.

You wouldn’t believe how many “unscented” products still have a light perfume scent to them.

CanadianBudgetBinder: Judy Finch Conte, is that false advertising in your eyes?

Judy Finch Conte: Not really. It may not have perfume added but the other ingredients combined kind of make its own scent or it could be the smell of plastic.

Fair enough, I thought, and all the better reason to sniff what you buy if you can without opening a sealed or boxed product.

Many other fans chimed in with their reaction to the sniff test; surprisingly, many of them smell before they buy.

Others are hesitant or awkward as it’s not a practice you often see people do. However, if a person does sniff test a product, it’s done quickly.

So, what products should you do the sniff test on before you buy?

I came up with ten products with the help of my fans and Mrs. CBB.

1. Sniff Produce

I don’t know about you, but adding sniff time to grocery shopping might cut into my lunch hour. If you fail to take a moment to do so, you’ll likely end up with items you don’t want.

Every good chef who buys produce at the market or grocery store smells everything they purchase.

Why? It’s the difference between a ripe and sweet product and a complex and bland product.

You’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever grown a garden or purchased organic fruits and vegetables from the farm.

Smelling what you eat is a good sign of what the fruit or vegetable will taste like. 

A pineapple, when ripe, will be golden brown, and you should have a sweet smell from the bottom of the fruit.

If you don’t smell your fruit, it is either not ripe or will lack flavor.

The same goes for strawberries.

What you smell is what you will taste in your mouth.

Can we do that?

Taste what we smell.

We often drool when intoxicating smells permeate the store we love.

2. Sniff Coffee

To sniff coffee is a must for us, especially if we buy coffee beans, so we inhale the bag.

The aroma of coffee and coffee beans is so potent that your nose can smell it from a mile away unless it’s in a tin or vacuum-sealed package.

We do this because it gives us a sense of smell and possible flavor that the coffee will produce.

Just because a bag of coffee beans sounds alluring doesn’t mean it tastes the same.

3. Sniff Hygiene Products

I’m picky about the smell on my body, whether it’s deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, bar soap, shaving cream, etc.

Although I cannot smell everything, I will check for testers or remove the lid to see if the product offers a scent, even if the product is unscented.

4. Sniff Fresh Bread

Fresh bread will smell like fresh bread, but day-old bread will smell like day-old bread.

The yeast in bread offers such a fantastic smell when baked that it’s hard not to imagine melted butter on a bun or stuffing bread with deli meats.

Try it next time you go to a bakery, and you’ll see what I mean, especially if you buy specialty bread with herbs and spices or sun-dried tomatoes.

Unfortunately, if you buy pre-packaged bread, you get what you get.

6. Sniff Smelly Stuff

sniff test air freshener
Sniff The Smelly Stuff, such as Air Fresheners

Any shoppers who love scented candles, air fresheners, and incense likely can recall going in for the sniff test.

Almost every shopper will inevitably sniff a candle before buying it so that you will notice a scratch and sniff label or openings on the jar or lid.

Product smell is also a marketing ploy, so the product’s scent hits you as you stroll by.

You know, the same way you stop and glance into Bath and Body Works with a lust for a sniff.

Photo source: Bob Loblaw Law Blog

7. Sniff Perfume and Cologne Testers

Please smell the perfume you are buying, and if you can’t, leave it for someone else to buy.

Mrs. CBB used to sniff Beautiful perfume by Este Lauder whenever we went into Sears with a spray or two.

The perfume smelled horrific, and I hoped she would never buy it. I was honest with her.

We do the sniff test on each other. If we aren’t both attracted to the smell, why buy it?

I don’t want to scare my wife from coming close to me.

Have you ever noticed an influx of brand-new perfume and cologne bottles in Kijiji after Christmas?

Now you know why. Just because you like it, someone else might not.

8. Sniff Bulk Spices and Herbs

I will sniff spices when I can because if the aroma is intense, I’ll know whether it’s fresh.

You can’t always tell depending on what you buy, or if it’s pre-packaged, you might struggle.

Some spices are very strong-smelling even in a package, so don’t be afraid to wave them in your face for a sniff.

The bulk spice section at the grocery store or bulk store is a great place to do the sniff test.

Old spices lack flavor and alter the expected taste a recipe should have.

9. Sniff Cleaning Products

I read online that a lady bought laundry soap that smelled like melons, and so did she for a month.

It may sound funny, but it can be depressing for someone when you only have limited funds, and buying another jug is not an option.

Most stores, though, will take opened products if you explain how horrible the taste or smell was as long as you provide a receipt within 30 days.

We purchased dish soap because we had a coupon, only to find out it was not very pleasant smelling, but we used it because we had already bought it.

These days, we do the sniff test. Some mixed chemicals often change the product’s smell, or what you think a flower scent shouldn’t often end well with some products.

When Mrs. CBB was in the UK, she passed the sniff test walking down the cleaning products aisle at Tesco.

Our liquid fabric softener tends to be far more robust in the UK than in Canada.

Mrs. CBB was swept away by the smell of one of the softeners, bought two bottles to stuff in her suitcase, and brought them home.

We always laugh at some of the stuff she flew back to Canada and what the customer’s officers must have thought.

Remember that some people may be sensitive to smell, so they must know what they buy first.

Apart from scratch and sniff, opening bottles, and sniffing packaging, some manufacturers will offer a sample sniff stand attached to the shelf.

It would equal what you’d find in the beauty boutique at Shoppers Drug Mart when testing perfume and cologne.

The photo above depicts air freshener sniff testers at a grocery store.

10. Sniff Cheese

You either hate smelly cheese, or you love it.

If you’re not a fan of stinky cheese, you should probably buy your Cheese somewhere you can taste and smell.

Many local deli shops will do just that for their customers by offering a taste, but don’t expect them to hand over an entire brick of Cheese for you to sniff.

That would be against health and safety standards.

There is no sense in bringing home expensive Cheese you won’t eat because of the smell.

Pass the sniff test first, and you’ll be safe in the cheese department.

11. Sniff Fish

You’re in good hands if it smells like the Lake or Ocean.

If not, leave it alone if you can’t smell the fish you buy. I wouldn’t purchase it either.

Any fish in a can or pre-packaged is at your discretion of purchase.

Sniff if you can sniff. Walk away if you can’t unless it doesn’t matter to you. Some shoppers could care less.

12. Sniff Test Etiquette

Save yourself the financial loss of food waste or buying products you don’t like by sniffing what you put in your shopping cart.

Please don’t put the product so close to your nose that it touches it or stick your fingers to taste or try unless you’re buying it.

Most beauty shops offer sample bottles, including perfume, that you can sniff and test before buying.

Remember, customers will be eating what you touch.

Another good reason is that we should always WASH everything we purchase in the produce department or have picked by someone else. 

A good vinegar, water spray, or bath is a great way to keep fresh, crisp, and clean produce.

10 Products You Should Sniff Test Before Buying

Grocery Sniff Test Chart
Ten Products that are worth sniffing before you purchase them.
  1. Fresh Produce
  2. Coffee
  3. Hygiene products
  4. Fresh Bread
  5. Candles, Air Freshener, etc.
  6. Perfume
  7. Bulk Spices
  8. Cleaning Products
  9. Cheese
  10. Fish

Discussion Question: What products do you sniff before you buy?

Please share your comments below in the comment section.

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