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Scent: New Frontiers in Branding

By: Nancy Jeffries
Posted: August 27, 2008, from the May 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

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In addition, IFF notes that it has been working with Hyatt Place Hotels to create a customized signature scent, ultimately to reinforce the branding of the company and the consumer experience. Faranda noted that there has been a change in the perception of subliminal scenting as compared to scent that is easily detected by consumers or visitors to a particular area. “The scent no longer has to be working subliminally to be effective,” says Faranda. “Consumers notice it, and we believe it doesn’t have to be subliminal. In fact, the consumer who recognized the smell was found to have a more positive shopping experience.”

A Technical Perspective

From a technical standpoint, Steve Semoff, vice president and director of technical services for IFF, noted the three factors essential to dispensing environmental fragrance. The fragrance is first, the hardware second and the air turnover rate (i.e., how often air is exchanged in a given environment) is third.

“You want to make sure that the fragrance concentration is at least at threshold level,” said Semoff. “If you have a powerful device and low turnover rate, then you’ll saturate the venue with scent and it will become unpleasant, so it’s important to find a critical balance. The air exchange rate is a fixed value determined by the engineering of the facility, so the two variables are the fragrance and the hardware. Ideally, you don’t want to manipulate the scent, or you want to do that as minimally as possible—as signature scents may have taken a perfumer up to a year and a half to create.”

In discussing the methods utilized for fragrance dispensing, he described the various processes—including the spray, evaporating fragrance from a solid substrate or gel, nebulizing the fragrance and electrostatic charge—which, in the method used by AromaSys, utilizes a device that works with a building’s own ventilating system. According to Semoff, however, micro-nebulization seems to be the most popular available method. “(Micro-nebulization is) introducing a very fine flow of perfume oil into a jet air stream, which produces a very dry fragrance delivery,” said Semoff. “This gives you the truest rendition and, in most cases, allows you to work with the perfume oil in its purest form.”

The chemistry of fragrance also plays a role with respect to the volatility of the mixture, specifically the vapor pressure. “In terms of validating the overall process, there are two methods,” said Semoff. “The first is a sensory evaluation by a trained panel of expert noses, who go into the facility and smell.”