Smelling, Scenting and Designing — Unlocking the Vault

Major corporations understand the impact of smell on their bottom line.  We will stay longer, spend more money, and become forever loyal to a product or a place if the smell can unlock memories, emotions, wonderful experiences and our wallets. 

(FLASHBACK style / Great Info: Originally published Sep 2011, but this is GOOD!) 

Do you SMELL that?    Yes, You Did and It Worked!


Did you know that daisies lack a floral scent; they look beautiful but unlike a rose or gardenia or even the freshness of a spring or fall day, daisies don't offer the richer experience  scent can bring to create a more  perfect moment.
Did you know that daisies lack a floral scent; they look beautiful but unlike a rose or gardenia or even the freshness of a spring or fall day, daisies don’t offer the richer experience  scent can bring to create a more  perfect moment.

The Nose Knows – The Body Shifts

What does your clean laundry smell like?  What does your child smell like?  What does that 5-star hotel smell like?  The linens? What does your retailer, school, or interior design smell like?  Do you know that smell is a key factor for motivating behavior?

We do it all the time:  smell gives us clues.  We know the smell of our mate, of crayons, of laundry, mold, sour milk, and other smells that inspire us or warn us.

MYTH: We were taught that mother animals will not retrieve its baby if they smell humans.  (A fallacy, by the way, moms smell us but the mothering instinct is stronger.)

Smell is an extremely powerful indicator and motivator, one that brings up a strong response,  immediately presenting us with memories, even colors, attraction or repulsion, information about how safe or enlightening something is.

Do you know that we even associate smell and color?  Some people can associate smell with color, number, letters, sound and more called synesthesia.

So how do WE design with smell to affect behavior?  First, have the intention. Next, have the awareness.  Design of a space is multi-dimensional, notice what the smell is in your bedroom, your kitchen, your car.

Our body has a tendency to “go numb” to the scents we experience in a short period of time.  It’s part of our Parasympathetic Nervous System manner of conserving energy.  Like when you walk into another’s home and it  has a smell, but you walk into your own and it doesn’t seem to.  It’s because your body is discounting that input and unless it changes dramatically, you won’t notice it.

Retailers & Manufacturers have been doing this forever

According to Tracy Pepe, Perfumer and Scent Designer and owner of  Nose Knows Consulting: businesses, retailers, event planners are increasing their bottom line by incorporating scents to create a totally designed sensory experience, increase profit and customer loyalty. 

Tracy works with many of the companies whose products fill your shelves, companies who know that one key to increasing their bottom line is by creating a scent that will increase profit and customer loyalty, and it works, we are hooked by the scent and the emotion it elicits in us.

Scent done properly transforms spaces, experiences and people

Scenting designed spaces is more than lighting a candle in the stink (or darkness, if you wish). It is science, marketing and psychology.  Done properly and with natural ingredients spaces and people are transformed. Because people’s emotions and memories are so closely associated with scent,  improperly designed scents and spaces can have a negative, even disastrous, effect.  (Feng Shui, it’s what I do.)

Tracy works with Event Planners and Chefs, Hosts and Hostesses, Wedding Planners:  anyone who would like to create a something that is so eloquent,  profound and enveloping the guests won’t forget the experience ever.  I promise you that…back to the project.

Michigan Avenue Research:  Fun on “Steroids”

Recently in Chicago  for a presentation, I/we took some time to do research on Michigan Avenue:  the Miracle Mile of retailers, restaurants and leading edge design of everything you can think of.

Hanging out with and working with Tracy (and Jean Jennings of PPG Industries) is amazing. Besides being totally fun, it was research.  Ok, totally fun research.  We visited clothing stores, audio stores, restaurants, coffee and chocolate shops, even a few lingerie shops, famous for using scent to inspire a mood and desire — to purchase that is.  We talked about the Feng Shui of the cutting edge design of British Clothing Company  AllSaints Spitalfields, smelling the space, watching the colors and the layout.    I first saw AllSaints unique retail design in the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas.  Rows and rows of “old school’ sewing machines, machine parts and great clothing for Gen Y, Gen X and anyone else less than a size 10 with a sense of Industrial Prairie Style — very cool.  Can you imagine what this design smelled like?

AllSaints Spitalfields London UKAllSaints Spitalfields Michigan Ave StoreAllSaints Spitalfields Michigan AveAllSaints Spitalfields Michigan Ave

Great Dress at Allsaints Spitalfields

 What does Purple smell like? The Nose Really Knows

 What Tracy can do is walk into a space and name the many ingredients used to scent it.  She is also amazing at matching a scent to a feeling and even a color.  Her work with major corporations, has given her the ability to create magic…retail magic.  Ask her to create relaxation, jazz, or darkness and she’s already working on which raw materials will create the beginning, middle, end and experience with scent.

As we visited Michigan Avenue’s LaPerla, Tracy chose to investigate the black bottle of scent. “This should have been in a different color bottle; what color do you think?”  She knew the color but was educating me, allowing me to make the connection, in a cross-sensory association of smell to color.  “Purple,”  I said, “this smells round and purple.”

Scenting spaces and events is artful.  In Tracy’s Brampton, ON studio, one whole wall is filled with what she calls “Raw Materials.” The smaller the vial, the higher the price.  It takes 60 to 70 years to become a Master Perfumer, training the sense of smell to follow the ‘Notes’ and the “Accords” of smell, travel first with the “top note” through with the layers of scent.  Layer upon layer these molecules fill our noses, directly access our brains and create desire, experience, memories, loyalty and create profit for those who know how to use them and sell them to the rest of us.

Smell is one of our most important indicators and a strong motivator.  

Read more on my post about how our sense of smell can motivate, indicate health, non-health (take the  very important Alzheimer’s Test), signify agreement or harm.