Remember that mean mathematics primary school teacher of yours, the one that scared the … out of you? You remember, the one that wore that heavy and most pungent fragrance. What was it, a cheap tea rose? She smelt like your old aunt’s toilet air freshener. That mean old teacher was a heavy smoker too, who tried to cover it up, by pouring more of that revolting fragrance on.
The result was smoker’s breath with a heavy pungent toilet potpourri smell!
Remember the cookies that your kind loving granny used to bake for you as a child? You could smell the cinnamon and vanilla essence gently wafting past you as you arrived at the front door. Many years on, your granny may have passed on, but the smell of vanilla and cinnamon still puts a smile on your face and warmth in your heart.
Many years on you still smell cheap tea rose or anything similar to potpourri and you think, YUK!
Basically you have been scarred for life.
Our sense of smell is the strongest of all our senses. The nose is like a library of fragrance memories. Scent memories that are connected to people, places or things that you have experienced in the past. Research has shown that ‘associative odour learning’ begins very early in life, with events and experiences that may become accessible to you as we age². Whether you have had a good or bad experience with that particular scent will directly affect how you relate to that scent in the future³.
If we take the case of a basic smell, say a lemon, the following video illustrates some of the reactions that are triggered in the brain.
Fragrance choices are not right or wrong
Fragrance choices are individual, just like our individual experiences and memories. Scents have the power to conjure up emotions that were created by your thoughts at the time that you experienced that specific scent. Those thoughts and emotions can be then linked to colour and certain expectations are then associated with that specific scent.
In the case of the granny, the following is a diagram of the initial trigger and the expected response.
You would have your own list of fragrant triggers and your own personal responses to certain smells.
Let me tell you one of my favourites. NOT!
When I first got to know my life partner, Paul – the very first thing that I noticed, apart from the fact that he was wearing high waisted tapered to his ankles, original 80s jeans and we were in the year 2000, was ARAMIS.
ARAMIS a perfume that in my opinion, should have been left behind in the 80s, along with those jeans.
I have since managed to get rid of Aramis ….but, Paul is still holding on tight to those jeans.
It’s funny, 15 years on and I hear my young mentor, Adelaide retell the story of fragrance shopping with her partner, Dave.
Dave likes an after shave that is popular and is predominantly a tobacco vanille fragrance (a complex blend of tobacco, oriental spices and woody base notes).
Just the smell of this perfume, makes Adelaide cringe …
“Old man smell!”
Those were my exact thoughts, 15 years earlier when I met Paul, but unlike Paul, Dave is a fashionista.
Did I mention that those jeans came with a matching Mr Darcy jumper?
(You know the one from Bridget Jones’s Diary!)
I get why Dave has an appreciation for tobacco notes. Tobacco notes are classical, strong, typically masculine notes that you would expect James Bond to wear and Dave, like Paul, appreciates good old James Bond.
On the other hand…
Tobacco notes, remind Adelaide of … to find out, check out video!
P.S.Uncle Bob is a fictional character in order to protect the identity of the actual person from any embarrassment.
So what was the outcome of their fragrance shopping spree?
A compromise is achieved
Like all successful relationships, a compromise was met between the two and Tom Ford’s Oud Wood was the winner. Tom Ford’s Oud Wood is a perfume that incorporates the fragrance notes that Adelaide and Dave both enjoyed due to their own individual past experiences.
The winning perfume is a blend of the fragrance notes that they both like in common and in this case, it was a complex mix of woody, vanilla and tonka bean notes.
The ultimate purchase decision was more than likely, based on what they both perceived to be a balance between Dave’s appreciation for classic sophistication and Adelaide’s playful nature.
The psychology and science behind fragrance development is inspired by nature, created in the mind of the perfumer and then scientifically translated into a scent. Fragrance creation is a complex art and one that also needs to consider the intimate relationship between, the individual and:
Their perception of self in relation to brand communication
Their perception of self in relation to their peers
Cultural differences, influences and tastes and the big one
From a marketing and product development perspective, the fragrance of a product is a key element when creating brand identity and building on brand loyalty.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to fragrance choices. What works for you, may not work for someone else. So if you perceive that something is right for you, then for you it is right.