News from Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Monday, May 20, 2013

Fragrance and Missed Opportunities

The perfume industry is full of missed opportunities because no one is courageous enough to try something new.
The thousand-year-old theory of Aromatherapy maintains that some natural fragrances send signals to the brain telling us how to interpret our environment when we sense their presence. Why isn’t this used?
Some scents tell us to feel happy, optimistic; some inspire us to action and decision-making; some make us feel nurtured, loved, and in a safe haven.
It’s common knowledge that some essential oils, when absorbed into the system, will change a mood or stimulate an emotion. I used this idea in my book, Accidental Alien,” when Daniel mixed a sensually stimulating oil for a female friend. He used Champaca oil, from a flower that is a relative of frangipani. This oil is no secret in perfumery. It just isn’t talked about. I had this oil in my store and had a lot of fun with it, demonstrating it o customers who quickly became believers after a few sniffs. To my knowledge, it has never been used commercially and I can’t imagine why.
A perfume company in New York used St. John’s Wort oil briefly. I had the cologne in my store. It was wildly popular because of the special oil, which lifted the users’ mood almost immediately. Inept marketing put the company out of business.
Sometime in the 1980s Haarmann and Reimer, the international fragrance giant, commissioned a study on this subject, the aim being to divide humans into personality types who would then respond to certain fragrance notes, and be attracted to persons wearing that scent. The study was published in six volumes titled, “The Psychology of Fragrance,” and is probably still available. Not much came of all this research and I’ve often wondered why. My thirty years experience as a custom perfumer taught me that absolutely certain personality types are attracted to certain fragrance blends.
Instead of creating a fragrance that smells good to the client, why not create a scent that will tell others how to feel about you? It would say to the beholder, “This is the kind of person I am and this is the kind of person I would like to be with.” Even more daringly, use them to communicate in a crowded room, reaching out to the kind of person you’d like to have as a friend. Humans are attracted to each other by hormonal scents that their nose can't detect, so why not fragrance?
I experimented with this in my store and discovered that, while not perfect, there was enough truth to warrant further exploration.
What a missed opportunity for some courageous perfume house!
I don’t have room to explore this deeply, but I can give you an overview. You’ll just have to find the books for more. There were five unisex personality types.
1.                    The Dynamic Activist – energetic, natural leaders. The party gets going, and things get done when they’re on the scene. Very fresh, citrus, lightly floral appeal here.
2.                    Sensitive Individualist – they prefer evenings alone rather than with someone they don’t like. Warm, spicy fragrance, amber, maybe frankincense.
3.                    Extrovert – Lively, cheerful, surrounded by color, modern and unconventional. They show courage in the face of adversity. They like unusual scents—fruity like orange, fresh, green notes.
4.                    Emotionally Ambivalent – They need stability. They are organized, cautious and careful. They like floral, sweet and oriental fragrances, mossy, animalistic, and impeccably correct.
5.                    The Rebel – The women I this group have an impossibly wild streak; the men are pure masculinity. Musk appeals to this group, tempered by balmy odors of wood and amber. 

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