When it comes to using public toilets, nobody wants to experience unpleasant smells, in the same way, no one wants to experience a washroom which is unclean or missing important amenities such as soap and toilet paper.
Smell tends to be one of the first things people notice when they enter a washroom. Unpleasant odours in a washroom can affect people in a multitude of ways, having a knock-on effect on your business.
The importance of quality air care in public washrooms
The recent State of Air Care 2017 study from Initial found 77% of respondents perceive a business more or less favourably depending on the state of its washrooms, highlighting the importance of effective washroom odour control.
1. Perceptions of cleanliness and everyday hygiene
In a report carried out by the World Health Organisation, it was revealed that hand hygiene is “the most important measure to avoid the transmission of harmful germs”.
Initial’s study found if a person’s first impression of a washroom was a pleasant smell, 68% of respondents said it gave them confidence that the washroom was clean. However, 88% of respondents also admitted that when they encounter a bad smell, they try to get out of the washroom as quickly as possible, which can lead to people not washing their hands as thoroughly as they should.
The Centre for Disease Control estimates that up to 80% of all infections are transmitted by hands, so if people are not washing their hands thoroughly enough this could cause harmful germs and bacteria to spread easily through the premises.
Dr Andy Myers, Director at consumer neuroscience consultancy Walnut Unlimited, agreed that these findings make neurological sense because “the strong association between smell and memory means that smell is a powerful gateway to our emotions and to core emotion-processing regions of our brain.”
2. Business reputation
Failure to remove unpleasant smells occurring in public bathrooms can cause reputational damage to a company.
The study by Initial found that 35% of staff members who work in offices have experienced feeling ashamed by the smell in their company’s washroom when directing clients or external people to their facilities.
Further, when using public washrooms, an unpleasant smell leaves nearly 80% of people with a negative perception of the business and nearly a quarter of people would tell their friends and family about their experience.
The findings of another study by Nielsen found that 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising, suggesting the potential for negative word of mouth.
3. Risk to repeat custom
Research from Initial also revealed a connection between unpleasant washroom experiences and custom.
The study found that 67% of respondents say that an unpleasant smelling washroom impacts their purchasing behaviour and make them less likely to shop there. In fact, 46% would not return to a place with washroom malodour. In a world where consumers are sensory driven, creating the right experience for customers, even in the washroom, is essential.
Unpleasant smelling washrooms, understandably, evoke emotive reactions from people, but the issue for businesses lies in how they act on those emotions and the measures they put in place to create the right first impressions. Understanding these three points will help your businesses to understand why it’s crucial to invest in and implement quality air care services.