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It’s intriguing to me how a smell that I first interpret as bad can suddenly shift to good. For instance, a landfill is located along my daily commute and while its scent is generally well-hidden, I sometimes catch wind of what smells like rotting fruit and it makes me gag. However, once I’ve passed it, my impression shifts and it instead reminds me of a blueberry bagel, which I enjoy.
If you have never experienced this sensation, it may sound strange. However, according to Monell Chemical Senses Center, it is not uncommon for an individual to experience distinctly different odor qualities when the same compound is presented at a different concentration.1
Scent obviously is strongly connected to experience and can evoke memories, but how does it work? HowStuffWorks.com reports the olfactory bulb has access to the amygdala, which processes emotion, and the hippocampus, which is connected to associative learning—yet concedes that smells would not trigger memories if not for conditioned responses.2
While the view of how a scent connects to an experience may be blurry, the fact that the two connect is clear. So what better way to connect a consumer to a positive experience than through scent?
Product developers have know this for some time and have built up entire product ranges around consumer experiences. But even today, they face challenges incorporating fragrance into formulas, where interactions can occur and do so under regulatory constraints.