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Science Behind the Scent

What’s in scent marketing and how is it impacting the cleaning sector?


By Paul Wonnacott
July 8, 2019


Scent marketing allows us to take company brands and the messages they portray and link them with a fragrance that intensifies those messages. According to Lindstrom, a best-selling author and branding expert, “seventy-five percent of the emotions we generate on a daily basis are affected by smell.” This is because our olfactory nerve within our bodies is responsible for our sense of smell, and smell is deeply connected to our emotional state. Ultimately, smell has a far greater influence on our behaviors than most of us realize.



As an aircare manufacturer, Vectair Systems has been realizing this and, over the last few years, started to create ‘experiences’ with fragrance. It is no coincidence that the global air freshener market is set to increase from ten billion dollars in 2016 to twelve billion dollars by 2023, and that’s a conservative estimate. Our fragrance dispensers used to be placed mainly in restrooms where a fresh citrus scent hid the foul-smelling odors of the public bathroom—whereas now, dispensers are a requirement for more refined, sophisticated areas like lobbies, meeting rooms and spas. Customers are realizing the ability to connect with their audiences through scent, and there has been a shift towards more lifestyle-based scents which conjure up memories and emotions; a fragrance needs to take you somewhere in your mind. Scents like ‘Marine Musk’ and ‘Ocean Spray’ take you to the sea shore, while ‘Kiwi & Grapefruit’ and ‘Cucumber & Melon’ take you to an exotic haven.


This year, with many of us adopting a healthier lifestyle and considering the environment in everything we do, we are seeing greener fragrances that contain earthy ingredients; we are being drawn back to nature with fruity and floral fragrances. We are also seeing a shift towards recognizing scents as more gender-neutral, so what would usually be seen as a masculine scent, such as leather, is now appealing to all genders.


Expect to see deeper, richer scents this year, mainly linked to our ever-increasing obsession with food-related activities. There’s sometimes nothing like a sweet smelling salted caramel cake or chocolate cookie to stir the tastes buds. Richer scents also bring a sense of allure and mystique to a person or space.


Of course, scent is very personal to an individual, but through our tests and research, we have identified a number of stand-out fragrances that appeal to most of the general public. These include Lavender & Geranium, Bergamot & Sandalwood, and Sea Salt & Bamboo.



How Fragrances ‘Feel’


The question more and more customers are asking is: Does this scent give the right atmosphere in its location? Customers are increasingly looking for end-user-friendly scent options instead of the ‘usual’ citrus associated restroom scent. They are looking for unique fragrances that reflect those offered in retail stores. Two dimensional fragrances are making their mark in the industry, and these can be delivered in different ways—either through a multi-phasing fragrance cartridge where the two fragrances evaporate at different speeds, or in one single fragrance refill where different fragrance notes can be identified by the nose.


How Fragrances Look


Prior to the last few years, aircare dispensers were meant to be smelt and not seen. However, that is changing. Dispensers are now being designed that are suitable to be seen in upscale environments, with a greater emphasis on aircare products being part of the wider landscape and matching with furniture. The fact that fragrances are moving outside of just the restroom means that the decision makers are making some changes. For the cleaning sector, this means working with customers who are more concerned about the look and feel of the product, as well as how the product has been made.


How They Are Made


Consumers are eager to know the stories behind the products that they use. As the world continues its much needed quest to become more resourceful, people are looking for products that use recyclable materials where possible. For example, we use EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) in some of our passive aircare products and urinal screens. Safe and pure fragrance oils that provide a vibrant, energetic and ‘greener’ approach are also becoming popular—think of lavender, lime, eucalyptus, lemon—especially for the home and gym.


How They Work


The popularity of fully programmable technology is on the rise, with customers appreciating the ability to fully control their dispenser outputs. If a fragrance is too strong, they can turn it down. If they have a particularly busy meeting room one afternoon, they can program for an increase in fragrance delivery. Consistency is also key—people want ‘always on’ fragrance that lasts, mainly due to the fact that fragrances are becoming more pleasing. For an aircare dispenser to be truly consistent, it needs efficient fragrance dispersal, dispensing a fine mist with smaller particles that stay in the air for longer. Replacing refills should be swift and easy. Ultimately, sophisticated venues want sophisticated, state-of-the-art aircare systems—but ones that are simple to use.


Having Fun with Fragrance


Possibly the most exciting part is that people and companies are starting to have fun with scent. In the laundry industry, for example, there are all sorts of detergents and cleaners that include scent boosters, which are new ways of layering the smell of clean cotton or linen and adding a different dimension to the smell. The technique of combining scents with other sensory prompts, such as the use of sound and lighting, can also be highly effective and is seen across the world. Just imagine where the industry might be in ten years time—only time will tell (or smell)!


Paul Wonnacott is the President & Founder of Vectair Systems