Deb Brunt, head of Consumer Insight from PZ Cussons, discussed how every aspect of a product can communicate with the consumer, whilst leading university professor Francis McGlone suggested that our nose remains the most important influence.
Brunt explains that the consumer decision journey, which used to be a linear funnel, now has sophisticated consumers who are seeking status, quality, and a brand or product experience.
The marketer suggests that social media sites and the way purchase channels have been fragmented mean people can now be influenced by a greater volume and type of opinion through different mediums.
“Consumers needed more than just a great fragrance to be enticed into buying a product," Brunt continues. "It is about touching all the senses of the consumer in the first instance, both in-use and post-use, while continuing to re-enforce that this product is the one that they want and need, that makes a successful brand.”
“Finally, it is essential for this process to be dynamic and to never be satisfied with the current level of experience that is being provided by the product as there is always a changing and never-ending development journey.”
Professor McGlone from the School of Natural Sciences & Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University believes, however, that olfaction is overwhelmingly the most important of our five senses.
"Although the human sense of smell has declined in comparison to other mammalians species over evolutionary history, it is clear that our behaviour can still be powerfully influenced by odours and fragrances, often without conscious awareness,” he says.
"At both a conscious and non-conscious level, humans through the ages have devised means by which to enhance facial attractiveness (a multi-billion dollar cosmetic industry attests to this fact), and an equally lucrative fragrance industry exploits the hedonic primacy of odours in the human brain,” he adds, stating that it is unclear whether the presence of odours can modify perceived attractiveness.
Prof McGlone says that research has shown that in terms of emotional power, olfaction is rated as the number one sense in providing affective information to the brain about the stimulus.
McGlone says the brain has to anchor what is being processed, giving the example of smell altering the effect of touch, for example. "Exposing the subconscious predictively is essential for better product design," he concludes.
The Fragrance Forum organised by the International Fragrance Association UK was the third annual edition and was held at The Royal Society in London.
The purpose of the Forum is to develop a better understanding of the important role fragrance plays each year bringing together around 100 perfumers, scientists from academia and industry, marketers, trade body representatives and others for whom fragrance is important.