Der Duft als Markenanker | wirtschaft.neu.denken

The scent as a brand anchor | wirtschaft.neu.denken

Blog series by Richard König

The role of olfactory perception, also called the sense of smell, plays an important role in everyday life, but many people are not aware of it. Since there are very different approaches to this topic, I would like to start with my personal story on the subject of scents. To begin with: there was none. At least none in particular, and no more or less than with any other person. We do perceive scents, be it in nature, when eating or on other people. But mostly this perception plays a subconscious role. When wine is tasted or perfume is bought, the sense of smell is assigned a meaning in brief moments. However, this is too little for conscious training of a good nose.

A Zen wisdom says "In the mind of the beginner there are many possibilities, but in the mind of the expert there are only a few". In addition to my own subjective evaluation, for me as a fragrance novice, the reactions of other people were of particular interest. On the one hand, by observing the reactions, one can judge how the fragrance is perceived and accepted by a broad public. On the other hand, one finds out that the judgement about smells is rather variable, depending on the social environment.

Today we know that the sense of smell plays a major role in eating. The perception of taste is 80 percent a matter of the nose and not the tongue. In reality, however, the social environment, in the form of other people's opinions or their reactions, also plays a major role. We know this phenomenon from wine tastings. If the sommelier talks about apricot or pepper notes, you immediately smell these characteristics. This association also happens when someone judges the wine as "bad" or "particularly good". The wine receives this label in the listener's mind and is judged according to it. Depending on expert status, or dependence on the social environment, this judgement is followed (or not). Taste is therefore not only subjective, but can be socially influenced.

"Between stimulus and reaction lies a space. In this space lies our power to choose our reaction. In our reaction lie our development and our freedom." - Viktor Frankl

The average time between stimulus and reaction in humans is around 20-30 milliseconds. We make many thousands of judgements or decisions in everyday life more or less automatically. For example, if we perceive the smell of smoke in a house or flat, this immediately triggers a stress reaction that can be measured. A few seconds later, hormones such as cortisol or adrenaline are produced in the blood. When we smell vanilla or tangerine, we associate these scents with positive memories of Christmas or vanilla fritters. The hormone oxytocin is released and makes the feeling of comfort and security tangible for us throughout the body.

Of course, all five sensory organs play a role as stimuli in such experiences, but the sense of smell is considered particularly important. In 2014, researchers at Rockefeller University in New York announced that the human nose can distinguish one trillion odours. The sense of smell also plays an important role in evolution. It is already imprinted in the 26th week of pregnancy, even before the fetus' sense of hearing or smell is fully formed. However, one factor in the human brain makes olfactory perception special: The sense of smell is the only sense that is directly connected to the hippocampus and the limbic system, the centre for memory and emotions. This means that reactions to smells can occur at lightning speed. But this also means that we have less opportunity in everyday life to consciously exercise our "power of choice", as Viktor Frankl beautifully describes it. This is because these reactions are mostly subconscious and automated, based on the experiences and associations that we have learned in the hippocampus about them in the course of our lives. This can be a direct memory of a specific scent or, if we do not yet know the scent, an association with something similar. For example, the scent of alpine pine can recall both a walk in the forest in a "blind tasting", but also something unpleasantly artificial in another person, depending on which connections are activated in the brain. Of course, all five sensory organs play a role as stimuli in such experiences, but the sense of smell is considered particularly important. In 2014, researchers at Rockefeller University in New York announced that the human nose can distinguish one trillion odours. The sense of smell also plays an important role in evolution. It is already imprinted in the 26th week of pregnancy, even before the fetus' sense of hearing or smell is fully formed. However, one factor in the human brain makes olfactory perception special: The sense of smell is the only sense that is directly connected to the hippocampus and the limbic system, the centre for memory and emotions. This means that reactions to smells can occur at lightning speed. But this also means that we have less opportunity in everyday life to consciously exercise our "power of choice", as Viktor Frankl beautifully describes it. This is because these reactions are mostly subconscious and automated, based on the experiences and associations that we have learned in the hippocampus about them in the course of our lives. This can be a direct memory of a specific scent or, if we do not yet know the scent, an association with something similar. For example, the scent of alpine pine can recall both a walk in the forest in a "blind tasting", but also something unpleasantly artificial in another person, depending on which connections are activated in the brain. Scents evoke individual and personal memories and experiences in our subconscious. Citrus scents are generally stimulating, lavender is calming and vanilla is often associated with childhood memories. Woody notes transport us into a rough, masculine world, while floral scents are more associated with women. Fragrances not only trigger an emotion, but also flood our bodies with hormones and can trigger states of stress or relaxation. The effect of fragrances, especially with natural essential oils, is well researched and should therefore be used with responsibility. Fragrance marketing versus well-being It is well known that scent marketing is used and plays a major role in many areas, such as retail, the purchase of new cars or in the food industry. This makes it all the more important to handle this topic responsibly. Fragrances should not be used manipulatively, but should evoke positive feelings and contribute to personal well-being. With a good fragrance, one can give one's surroundings, whether private or business, a special feel-good factor. Companies have also discovered the world of scents for themselves. Corporate Scent is what marketing experts call this. One of the pioneers in this field is Samsung, which had exhibition rooms and trade fair stands scented at a very early stage. Some airlines also use their own scents and distribute them on scented towels for refreshment. Studies show that customers stay longer in a scented shop and that frequency is also increased. The decisive factor here is the perception threshold of the scent, which must be very discreet. Hotels, restaurants, open-plan offices or waiting areas of surgeries or law firms are now also discovering the positive influence of scents. If an own fragrance is developed and used in a targeted and long-term manner, it is perceived as unique and can thus also become a strong brand anchor. Besides visual design as a factor of recognition, factors such as music (audio branding), haptic factors and smell play a role. Whereby smell appeals most strongly to our emotional centre. Brand positioning therefore not only has to do with design, claims and communication, but can also be strengthened through scents. A unique scent leads to a unique brand experience, which is positively remembered. At Saint Charles, we have been developing our own signature fragrances for our own products as well as individual fragrances for our customers in our "Scent Lab" for a long time. Aware of the psychological, and ultimately also the physical effect. We use almost exclusively natural fragrances, which have proven themselves in the context of aromatherapy and through experience in our pharmacies. We are of the opinion that fragrances should never be used with the intention of manipulation, but that the well-being of the people should be in the foreground. With this motivation, authentic fragrances are created that fit the respective DNA of the company or brand and enable a special experience for employees, guests or customers. More about Professional Room Scent by Saint Charles. economy.new.thinking | A blog series by Richard König Image: Lavender Harvest 2020, Richard König (l), Bernhard Knapp (r), © rkmedia.at


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