How do odors affect our lives?
What did this situation remind you of? Maybe you were thinking about your grandparents or your parents? Do you long for your aunt who always bakes your favorite cookies? Thinking about the detergent from your childhood?
Smells change our life, they make it come alive. The sun cream reminds us of summer, the perfume of Calvin Klein reminds us of our best friend, the washing powder reminds us of home.
We associate smells with certain people and situations. They function almost like a built-in warning system: If there is a smell of smoke, we think of fire and can react. The sense of smell is especially important for blind people. It enables them to recognise people, for example. For this reason, we have chosen this topic for our new blog:
What the sense of smell means for the following people, you can read here.
About the persons
My name is Veronika, I am 57 years old, a childminder and have my own shop, which is closed due to the current situation.
My statement: I never leave the house in the morning without a splash of perfume.
My favourite scent: my yellow roses or the smell of summer rain.
My name is Priska. I am 36 years old. I am the mummy of a nine month old boy and I work 50% on the side at Radio SRF. I live in the country, am permanently in love and originally come from the Grisons.
My statement: The scent plays a bigger role than you think.
Therefore it is important to know the story of how she met her boyfriend Nik. Nik has a great perfume. She keeps thinking about her first encounter when he knocked her out with his good smell.
My favorite scent: my friend Nik and the smell of the mountains - and sun cream.
I just had my birthday and turned 88 years old. In this house here I am in the middle of it all and feel good.
My statement: There are many smells coming from outside - sometimes good and sometimes less good.
My favourite scent: Roses
My name is Michael Ryser, I work at Swisscom in my first year of training as a mediamatician. I am 16 years old. I like playing football, taking photographs and generally I like being outdoors.
My statement: The most beautiful thing about spring is the scent of flowers.
My favorite scent: Flower blossoms, for example on an apple tree.
My name is Irene, and I'm a proud 1976. I grew up in beautiful Saanenland, but have lived in Bern for a long time. I am known for my creativity - but I work in a very structured way. I have been working for Swisscom for 25 years. At the moment I'm working in the field of events and sponsoring. In my free time I like to dance and I am very sociable. One of my great passions is eating and drinking. I really miss going out to restaurants with friends in the current Corona period.
My statement: Nothing smells better than the smell of "home".
My favourite scent among men, without ifs and buts: Jean-Paul Gaultier - Le Male
It's a little harder with women, but my favorite perfumes are:
- Oilily Flowers
- Azurée Soleil by Tom Ford Estee Lauder Collection
- In Love Again by Yves Saint Laurent.
I also miss the Gloria Perfume hair shampoo, which has not been produced for a long time.
I'm a fragrance freak. Already in the seventh grade I loved to smell scents at Coop. I bought my first perfumes when I was 13. Meanwhile I go with my soul mate every two months to test perfumes for hours in the Globe or other shops and ruin my finances.
My statement: may smell someone.
My favorite scent: My favorite scent depends on the season. In autumn and winter I like the heavy scents of Jean-Paul Gaultier Le Male, Tom Ford Noir or Ginger.
The amber extract is probably important. A perfume must have a balanced note of head, heart and base note.
In summer I prefer light fruity scents like Clean Reserve or Tom Ford Neroli Portofino.
Why are fragrances actually important in our everyday life?
The olfactory sense perceives only a small percentage of our environment. But the subconscious decides in milliseconds whether we like to smell someone or not, Marcel explains. All interviewees are of the opinion that scents play a major role in our everyday life. So does whether we feel comfortable in a place or not. Veronika says that she likes to stay a little longer in a place where it smells good. On the other hand, in a place where it stinks, she goes away as soon as possible. Irene also says that she can often revel in memories through scents. Smells and scents influence our emotions, adds Priska. For Michael, the sense of smell is even the third most important sense.
Is our scent actually part of our identity? If so, in what way?
Here too, my interview partners are in agreement. They are all convinced that smell is part of identity. Theres says that this has been the case before and that blind people work a lot with smell. Priska told me that she was in town the other day and smelled a perfume. This made her immediately think of a certain person wearing the same perfume. When she felt homesick on holiday, she missed the smell that was in the air at home. For this reason, people can feel at home with a single person because you can orient yourself to how it smells. Marcel says that a person's smell even belongs to their DNA. It includes the natural smell, but also part of the concept with shower gel, perfume and other things. Irene also thinks that one's own scent is unmistakable. However, it is also important to make sure that a perfume suits you and that you don't just buy one because it is trendy. Michael thinks that the fragrance is part of your appearance and one of the first things you notice about another person.
Can the scent make a person unsympathetic? If so, why?
The smell decides very strongly whether we like someone or not. That's how we know the expression "I can't smell you." Therese also mentioned this. Irene says that just when you associate a smell with a bad memory or experience, this is the case. Marcel says: "I am convinced that you are more likely to buy or believe something from someone with pleasant breath than if they stink of onions, garlic or alcohol." All interviewees are of the opinion that someone who stinks is automatically labeled as unkempt. Fresh sweat after sports activities or after sunbathing can also trigger animal attraction, Marcel objects.
Smells have a strong influence on our everyday life. However, all senses play a major role in choosing the right perfume.
This brings us to a brief digression into science in relation to the experience of brands via multi-sensory technology.
The Nobel Prize winner Khaneman divides our brain into two systems. He distinguishes between fast and slow thinking. System one is intuition. It follows patterns and ties in with experience, is fast and energy efficient. It works without conscious control. He calls the second thinking in system 2 the slow and extremely strenuous thinking. It causes a higher blood pressure, the muscles tense up, the pupils of the eyes dilate and even the heartbeat increases slightly. It is used for complex tasks, decisions on freedom of action and when there is high concentration. System 1 works much more often, although system two believes that logic and rationality make system 1 superior to system 1 in terms of what is wrong.
We know system 1 as a gut feeling or burgeoning memories, as described above by Priska when recognizing a perfume in the city. Without conscious perception, intuition takes in impressions, uses them and triggers a reaction. Unconscious stimuli are stronger than conscious ones.
All 5 senses - sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste - play a major role in this process. It is the soft facts that are quickly and subconsciously analysed and control decisions. This intuition must consciously steer a brand/brand and thus differentiate it from other brands.
Although almost 90% is perceived visually, brands cannot ignore the other senses - especially for blind and visually impaired people this seems logical.
10 million bits per second are sent to our visual processing center. Only 100,000 bits are picked up through the ears. The nose takes in exactly the same number of bits. The skin alone processes 1 million bits per second. The tongue processes a mere 1000 bits. The planning and decision-making working memory has a ridiculous 50 choices per second. It doesn't take a mathematical degree to recognize the problems of logical thinking. Only 0.1% of the information reaches the conscious decision area. So it would be laughable if we did not take into account the senses that influence the 95% subconscious intuition or our gut feeling.
As we can see, not only odours are extremely important in our everyday lives. An interplay of all five senses enables us to perceive the world in all its glory. This does not mean, however, that impaired people cannot do this. If one sense is lost, the others become stronger. And as the fox said to the little prince: "You only see well with your heart. The essential is invisible to the eyes."