02.The power of aroma marketing
Junji Hamano, a creative perfumer referred to as “a nose”, studied fragrance science in France and completed his practical training in the French perfume capital Grasse. Now working in Singapore for global fragrance company Ambi Pur, Hamano says that although each sense is unique, our nose has more than one characteristic that sets it apart from others.
Physically, our sense of smell differs on a very basic level because it can’t easily be switched off – you can close your eyes or block your ears, but it is very difficult to stop breathing in the air around you.
On a neurological level, the sense of smell – also known as the olfactory system – shares a pathway in the brain that is closely associated with the limbic system, which is responsible for emotions, memories and moods. Smell affects the limbic system before it reaches the part of the brain responsible for noticing and identifying the scent. It’s the only one of our senses that does this.
Humans take an average of 20,000 breaths every day. To a scent marketer, each one presents a potential opportunity to forge a connection between a consumer and a product or environment.
Scents and sensibility
Steven Semoff, acting co-president of the Scent Marketing Institute (SMI) and technical director at US-based Belmay Fragrances, says that while the industry is still in its infancy, it is growing. Founder of the SMI, the late Harald Vogt, told the LA Times in 2006 he expected the market could grow into a $1bn business by 2014.
And grow it has. The Annual Scent
World Expo, held in Miami in December
last year, saw more than 200 delegates
from 19 different countries come
together to discuss the potential of the
nose – specifically, how best to enhance
brand recognition using scent.
“If you look at the way brands
promote, it is all about sight and sound,”
says Semoff. “So many neglect the
second-most important sense – smell
– which is directly hardwired into the
right side of the brain and allows you to
develop an emotional connection to the
In a casino, he says, marketers
might opt for an “invigorating” scent
to keep people alert, while in a hotel,
smells that are “calming, soothing
and comforting” are preferred.
Researchers from Gloucestershire
University in the UK say smell is a
very powerful element of unwritten
communication, and capable, along
with other carefully chosen ambient
cues, of creating a strong sense of place.
Semoff believes getting scent right is all
about understanding the demographics of
a brand’s target audience. You may even
have noticed variations of scent in your
own shopping patterns – for example,
the smell inside a mainstream clothing
retailer is vastly different to that inside a
luxury car dealership.
Scent palettes range from the
fresh – think linen and lavender – to
the earthy notes of cedar wood and
sagebrush, and the more obscure aromas
of burning rubber and even “dinosaur
Semoff, who was once asked to
create the smell of Shrek for a product
exhibition aimed at children, says there
is no off-the-shelf aroma suitable across