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The Science Behind the Power of Scent

No matter what type of facility you manage, occupants and visitors entering one of your buildings will make immediate judgments about it based on what they see, hear – and what they smell. Studies have shown that smell is the most powerful trigger of emotions and memories among the five senses. Evoking these emotions in a positive way can dramatically enhance a facility's environment in many ways.  Whether you're in the commercial real estate, retail, hospitality or healthcare industries, selecting and delivering the right scent in the right place can help create an unparalleled experience.

Why Create a Scenting Strategy?

Examples of the potential benefits gained with a scenting strategy include the following:

  • Ambient scents can influence retail spending and dwell time by positively impacting customer perception.
  • The right scent can inspire and motivate people, increasing productivity and efficiency in a workplace.
  • A memorable scent can make guests feel special and increase length of stay and return rates.
  • Scenting can provide a healthcare facility with a harmonious, relaxing environment that improves the patient experience, reduces anxiety and provides a more pleasing atmosphere for families and visitors.
  • Scenting can be effectively used for odor remediation

Advantages of Modern Scenting Technology

Scenting systems are available today that use nebulization to uniformly diffuse scent. The technology provides consistency over the full life of a scent cartridge. The scent is distributed through nanoparticles that are a millionth the weight of a typical aerosol drop and 1/100th the size in diameter. Nanoparticles behave like a uniform, dry vapor. They leave no material on furniture or floors and require less liquid than aerosols. The small size and weight of nanoparticles enables the scent to hang in the air for up to 16 hours. Nebulization systems of this kind allows for consistent, predictable and lasting distribution in a targeted space. The scenting systems can be customized to work in any facility. The scenting technology can be located on walls, tables, or be mounted to HVAC systems.

A nebulizing scenting system offers advantages over conventional air fresheners and "spritzers" of all types, which help your building smell fresh for the moment yet have the potential to harm the health of your occupants. Fortunately, it is no longer necessary to saturate a space with large amounts of scent as well as solvents and propellants that contain harmful VOCs to create a pleasing scent ambience or deal with problem odors. Typically, one nanoparticle unit replaces as many as 22 conventional aerosol dispensers.

Not Everyone Loves Popcorn

To see how a scenting strategy can work, take a commercial building that houses a mix of retail tenants including a movie theater. A strong popcorn odor permeated beyond the theater to the entire facility. Some designer clothing retailers expressed their concerns to the building manager that their customers were hesitant to purchase clothing, thinking the popcorn odor would transfer into the fabric of the outfits they wanted to buy. While the fabric would actually not take on the popcorn odor, customers in the clothing store believed the fabric would smell.

To solve this problem, the manager of this building chose nanoparticle technology for its odor remediation, selecting a pleasing scent diffused throughout the building’s HVAC system. The popcorn odor disappeared and so did the complaints.

While popcorn may not be a day-to-day concern for many facility managers, there may be a problem, for example, with strong fumes coming from a loading dock. Depending upon how close the service elevators are to the dock, odor from the docks may travel up the elevators to tenant floors when those service doors are opened. Scenting technology is an easy-to-implement, affordable way to prevent a host of negative connotations associated with odors in commercial facilities.

Whether used to create ambience or for odor remediation, the scenting technologies available today offer facilities managers a powerful tool to reinforce brand identity and positively impact the experience of everyone who visits the environments in their care. The right scent will complement and support the careful attention that is paid to every other aspect of a first class facility.

Roel Ventura is an ambient designer at Ambius. He can be reached at:

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