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The Power of Product Scent/Fragrance

By September 28, 2022October 17th, 2022Blog

Scent has the exceptional ability to trigger our memories and emotions. A certain scent or fragrance can spark a precious memory like being huddled around the table with family at Christmas time or lying on a beach somewhere with a tropical breeze in the air.

From laundry detergents to hair or body care products, today’s market is flooded with a huge choice of products with varying scents and fragrances (including those well-known classics to more contemporary scents). Whilst price, packaging and product functionality are understandably important, product scent is also a key driver in consumer purchase decisions. Manufacturers and R&D teams are focused on creating meaningful scent experiences to drive consumer product preferences and brand loyalty supported by research which: 

  • develops a greater understanding of consumers’ needs/preferences
  • gains insight into popular or upcoming fragrance trends as well as deeper insight into emotional experiences

Food for thought

We asked our LaunchPilots how important product scent/fragrance is to them. Findings revealed 90% find scent extremely/very important when purchasing household and personal care products. Top preferred scents were fresh (77%), floral (55%), citrus (53%) and fruity (49%) scents. There’s no doubt that product scent has the powerful ability to bring about a sense of wellbeing and emotion where other product features simply can’t. Indeed, many of our LaunchPilots rated scents which are refreshing/ revitalizing (68%), calming/ relaxing (63%) and comforting (60%) as most appealing to them.

Scent is so powerful that the sensations or memories triggered can influence our perceptions of the performance and quality of the product. For instance, when it comes to laundry, we don’t consider our clothes to be clean unless they actually have that clean and fresh smell. In the same way, household products like a kitchen or bathroom cleaner need to smell fresh and clean in order to emphasise the cleanliness of a room. With this in mind, it isn’t surprising that 8 in 10 LaunchPilot consumers told us they like to buy products which smell clean.

When asked what their favourite scent is and why, many of our LaunchPilots described distinct memories or emotions that come to mind when thinking about or smelling their favourite scent. Such comments help to illustrate the impressive ability of scent in triggering emotions and memories unique to each consumer. Popular favourites amongst our LaunchPilots included:

  • Fresh and clean scents which bring about comforting memories of freshly washed and dried clothes
  • Tropical scents such as coconut which many mentioned reminded them of their holidays abroad and the summertime
  • Scents such as gingerbread, cinnamon, apple, winter spice and pine were popular Christmas favourites with many mentioning these scents to evoke memories of the festive period and spending quality time with family

Honeysuckle, reminds me of afternoons sat in the garden having a cup of coffee and talking with my mum and dad.

Cotton fresh scents are my favourite because they remind me of cosy weekends and fresh bed spreads.

 Coconut as it reminds me of tropical islands and going on holiday.

My favourite scent would be gingerbread as it reminds me of Christmas and all my loved ones get together to enjoy a celebration together.

Our work in this area

Launchpad Research has extensive experience supporting global manufacturers in a variety of projects, including R&D teams in the world of fragrance. With fragrance acceptance playing a key role in consumers choice of household and personal care products, we recognize that testing is crucial to manufacturers in NPD and product upgrades.

Our research has been successful in transforming consumer sensory insights into successful solutions:

  • Central Location Tests (CLTs)- We have supported FMCG and scent manufacturers testing fragrances in neat, damp and dry formats under controlled conditions.
  • Home Usage Tests (HUTs)– We have conducted many HUTs, especially laundry product fragrance HUTs involving respondents evaluating the fragrance of their laundry loads at various stages of the washing and drying process.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you understand more about consumer experiences in this area or unearth deeper emotional insights, reach out to us by emailing info@launchpadresearch.com

N.B. LaunchPilot mini survey was asked to N=563 LaunchPilot panel members, September 2022