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How Scents Affect Our Mood and Work Performance


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Have you ever walked into wonderfully scented room and it put you in a good mood right away?  Or maybe the complete opposite has happened with a smell that you just wanted to get away from.  There is no denying that certain scents do affect our mood.

“Our sense of smell is the most powerful of our senses, in terms of emotion, how we connect with experiences and how we remember things,” said Ed Burke, VP of Customer Strategy and Communications at ScentAir in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Not all smells will illicit a positive emotion so as a business, we have to be careful how we use it.  One person might love the smell of a certain fragrance and someone else might develop a variety of physical symptoms from it such as headaches, dizziness, nausea to name a few.  

Other than the physical symptoms, there may be negative emotional responses from a certain scent.  It all depends on how or what that person associates the scent with.  If it’s not positive, then it will trigger a negative emotion in them.

Despite the possibility of negative reactions, in 1993, researchers found that scent marketing campaigns were powerful enough to increase brand loyalty and sales.

One of the most well-known studies in the industry was conducted by Alan Hirsch, a Chicago-based neurologist who founded the Smell and Taste Research Foundation. For the study, scientists placed two identical pairs of Nike running shoes into rooms that were exactly alike, except for one difference. One room had a floral scent, while the other one was unscented. 

After the study, Hirsch and his team concluded that consumers were 84 percent more likely to buy the Nike running shoes in the scented room.

Many businesses have caught on to the benefits of incorporating scents into their marketing tactics.   Some hotels have a certain aroma in their lobby for guests to enjoy, retailers have been known to use scents in their store so customers stay longer and make purchases.  

If you want to experiment with how scents can help improve job performance and even possible health benefits, you can begin by placing an electric diffuser in your room or office.  Add a few drops of essential oils to the diffuser filled with distilled water.  There are 6 scents Beverley Hawkins, owner of the Vancouver-based West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy recommends for boosting your productivity and mood at work.

1.  Lemon – Promotes concentration, calming affects

2. Lavender – Calming, emotional stress, tension

3. Jasmine – Calming, revitalized energy

4. Rosemary – Memory retention, exhaustion, fatigue

5. Cinnamon – Mental fatigue, concentration, focus.

6. Peppermint – Energy booster, concentration, thinking

 Aroma 36, a scent marketing and branding company in Florida with clients such as Ritz Carlton, Paradise Island Bahamas and Ferrari of Ft. Lauderdale, find that customers stay as much as 44% longer in a business “surrounded by an attractive scent.” 

With such a high percentage like that, it just may be worth giving scent marketing a try!



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