Smell is a complex medium, from the physiological mechanisms to its transformative powers.

Fragrances, or odors, are the product of microscopic particulate matter in the air. The matter is a “compound,” and the process of air travel is accomplished through the compounds evaporating (“volatilization”). These compounds are perceived by humans and other animals at very low concentrations and how they are perceived is in the nose of the beholder.

The detection of aromas plays a pivotal role in our every-day lives, from stimulating appetite to selecting a mate.

How does smell work?

Humans have approximately 350 functional olfactory genes. Compared with the 1100 found in mice, this seems like a trivial quantity. However, we have an astoundingly keen sense of smell. In some smell tests, humans are capable of outperforming rats, dogs, and even a gas chromatograph.[1] The olfactory genes live high up on the olfactory bulb and transmit feedback to the limbic system, which regulates emotion, before cognitive recognition occurs in the cortex.[2] Roughly translated, an emotional connection or reaction occurs prior to an intellectual one.

Situational advantages of scent

Predictably, given that scents are processed primarily though emotional centers, they can have a significant effect on mood and behavior. The mere mention and anticipation of a scent has a measurable influence on mood and behavior.

When a pleasant scent was introduced in a casino, money gambled in slot machines increased by 45%. During a consumer study, people perceived a shampoo as performing better after the scent was improved (and only the scent had been altered). After a vanilla scent was introduced to cancer patients when undergoing an MRI, 63% reported less anxiety associated with the experience. In separate experiments, peppermint has been found to enhance performance with athletes and at work.[3] In relation to memories, humans are 100x more likely to remember something they smell than something they see, hear, or touch.[4]

For animals, including humans, scent plays a significant role in identifying and detecting mates. When human interactions are accompanied by a pleasant fragrance, humans report their company as more attractive than interactions associated with neutral or negative fragrances. This is only in conjunction with people with “average” features (very attractive and unattractive features remained as such).[5]

Scent is a powerful medium that can impact the user experience in a positive or negative manner.

Benefits of scent experts

Fragrance is an integral and powerful factor of forming memories, making connections, and influencing moods. From transportation to healthcare to hospitality, retail to casinos and beyond, Prolitec has over 20 years of expertise in developing signature scents and providing solutions to meet a wide variety of business needs. Contact us today for more information on how we can improve your business.


[1] Gordon M. Shepherd. “The Human Sense of Smell: Are We Better Than We Think?” May 2004 | Volume 2 | Issue 5 | Page 0575 PLoS Biology | http://biology.plosjournals.org

[2] Kate Fox. “The Smell Report: An Overview of Facts and Findings” 2009, Social Issues Research Centre

[3] Kate Fox. “The Smell Report: An Overview of Facts and Findings” 2009, Social Issues Research Centre

[4] Kevin D. Bradford, Debra M. Desrochers. “The Use of Scents to Influence Consumers: The Sense of Using Scents to Make Cents.” 2009

[5] Alexis Rose. “Does Environmental Scent Influence Attraction and Mood”. Hanover College

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