Quest study uncovers human reaction to scents

By Louise Prance

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Olfaction

Quest International, one of the worlds leading creative flavours
and fragrances businesses, has published a new study detailing the
secret of the human relationship with scent - research that could
lead to more targeted fragrances.

Following a two-stage research plan, company researchers Dr. Anne Churchill, sensory sciences development manager, and Dr John Behan, director of applied research, revealed that the human reaction to scent varies depending on a number of intricate factors.

The company suggests these reactions are often based on the cultural traditions of individual societies, while others are 'hard wired' into the human brain, therefore making them global reactions.

A Quest International spokesperson told CosmeticsDesign​ that: "our research will help people to understand how fragrance can be more than just a pretty smell. Fragrance is a key to wellbeing, with smell being such an intuitive reaction".​ The research pattern took on many different forms, with Quest using myriad, mood-mapping, and mood portraits as main components of the sensory programme.

These are tools created by Quest to deliver informative results, with the results revealing that smell is an emotional sense, not an intellectual one.

Mood mapping is a quantitative technique that measures the emotions experienced when smelling fragrances.

A mood portrait finds a deeper link between fragrance and emotion by eliciting more spontaneous responses, while brain mapping technology measures changes in patterns of brain wave activity in response to odour stimuli.

The study is hoped to support the creation of fragrance for many different products. Thus helping businesses develop a better understanding of their target audience. The spokesperson said: 'We are at a time when manufacturers are actively seeking emotional engagement with consumers'.

The research revealed that scent could be a powerful tool to prompt a feeling of well-being, created by tuning into the individual's sense of smell. Therefore, targeting a large part of the beauty market, which is geared towards feeling relaxed and invigorated.

"Fragrance as an emotional sense is a key way for brands to convey real meaning as well as functional benefit to users"​said the spokesperson.

Through this study, fragrance becomes a means for manufacturers to communicate with consumers and therefore for consumers to 'manage how they feel through the products they buy'.

Quest, part of the ICI group, focuses its intentions on smell and taste, hoping to capture the essence of these senses in order to create memorable flavours and fragrances that feature in consumer products worldwide.

In order to cover many geographical locations, they have researchers in over 30 countries, including Europe, America, Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. These areas all work together to 'inspire new ways of thinking'.

Related topics Formulation & Science Fragrance

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