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The sweet smell of success

01 October 2013

Fragrance plays an integral part in our lives, surrounding us and influencing our moods, feelings and emotions in much the same way as colour. By selecting the right perfume for a washroom, shop, hotel or restaurant, the scent can form an integral part of the customer experience and support a company’s image, explains Francesca Hay, brand manager for P+L Systems.

A dirty, unpleasant smelling washroom is likely to have a negative impact on an establishment’s reputation. Recent surveys have found that people would not return to a restaurant or hotel if they perceived the washrooms to be unclean, and with people more likely to tell others about a bad experience than a good one creating the right impression for your business is paramount.  


Fragrances can be used to create an association between a location and a particular feeling. Nowhere is this more important than areas where cleanliness and hygiene are valued, especially in washrooms. By selecting a citrus scent such as a Lemon Fresh or Clementine fragrance or a light, clean fragrance such as Fresh Linen, customers can immediately perceive clean, well cared for environments where they matter most. Similarly, using a Baby Powder fragrance in a baby changing room will create a feeling of familiarity and make the experience of using the facility less stressful.  


Hitting the right note

Using fragrances to make people feel welcome is not only restricted to the washroom. Scents can also be used to create exclusive environments in lobbies and reception areas, particularly important for hotels, bars and restaurants. A multi-note fragrance that is more like an expensive perfume than a single note air freshener is the ideal choice for this sort of environment. Using layered fragrances, made up of a blend of luxury oils that evolve over time and changing the fragrance used in an area every month helps to prevent olfactory fatigue so people do not become accustomed to the smell. 

Fragrance can also be used in a retail environment to encourage customers to make a purchase. Many department stores that stock artificial flowers use a floral fragrance in the same area to make the flowers appear more real and attractive to customers. A recent study by researchers at the universities of Hasselt and Antwerp in Belgium examined the effects of scents on customer behaviour in a book shop, finding that specific scents encouraged customers to browse for longer. Creating a pleasant environment using scent makes people feel welcome and, as this study proved, more likely to stay in the area for longer. 


Avoid a fragrance faux pas 

With such a wide choice of fragrances available to choose from, selecting the right one for the environment can sometimes be difficult. Different environments have different requirements – whether it is a ladies washroom requiring a very feminine fragrance or a male changing room requiring an overtly masculine scent. Getting it wrong can make people feel uncomfortable in their surroundings, even if the scent is not unpleasant.


A very floral fragrance in a bakery, for example, would not be welcoming as customers don’t expect a floral scent around food. A rich vanilla fragrance would be a more appropriate choice, making customers think of food and encouraging them to make a purchase. Using fragrance mapping techniques to rank fragrances by their principle notes as well as intensity and whether they are best suited to a feminine, masculine or neutral environment is one way to avoid making a fragrance faux pas and to create the right first impression.