Scent Triggers/Functional Fragrances Will Change How You Think About Aromas

Scent Triggers/Functional Fragrances Will Change How You Think About Aromas

Mar 30, 2020Anthony Tori

After college, cologne purchases came to a halt because I no longer looked at the product as a necessity. With the help of science and personal experiences, I'm now obsessed with using aromas as scent triggers or, functional fragrances. After reading this article, you may feel the same. Don't worry if you're a little skeptical at first. I was for years. 


  • Scent is our most powerful sense and consumers will learn how to intentionally use them throughout their day to improve their life.
  • This will create a niche industry within the $31b fragrance industry.
  • theo & amelia is focused on creating all natural fragrances while spreading awareness of the power of scent triggers. 
  • Big brands already use scents to influence consumer behavior.
  • A certain scent can increase your learning ability by 30%.
  • It's possible that technology will help innovate the fragrance industry to the point that it becomes just as important as the food we eat. 

Scents can affect every action throughout your day

scent triggers

Scents have been proven to increase your learning ability, achieve a better night’s sleep, instantly change moods and bring back memories, intentionally or not. Those are only a couple of outcomes based on what we know today. 

As we learn more about the brain and how scents affect our daily lives, fragrances will only become more important. That’s why theo & amelia is currently focusing on two goals: 

  1. Create unique, great smelling and all natural fragrances.
  2. Educate and spread awareness about the power of scent triggers, essentially creating a niche of necessity scents while helping to improve lives.

Unique and great smelling fragrances as natural as the outdoors

what are scent triggers

In addition to smelling great, unique fragrances are important in order for scent triggers to be effective. If you're unfamiliar with the term scent trigger, I will explain more throughout this post or you can read "What Are Scent Triggers?

All natural fragrances are important because of the increasing awareness of known and perceived health factors. The organic food industry went through a very similar start in its history. In 1990, the organic food industry was $1b and is expected to be a $70b industry by 2025 in the US. Below is a growth chart comparing the organic food segment in the total food industry.

In addition to their food choice, consumers are also buying all natural everyday products because they want to reduce the amount of unknown and harmful chemicals absorbed in their bodies. As the awareness of fragrance health safety grows, more consumers will turn to all natural options just like they did with organic food. That's why we only create fragrances that we're comfortable wearing ourselves. 

More than essential oil blends

theo & amelia aromas

Current all natural fragrances are mostly created with essential oils. By definition, scent triggers can be classified under aromatherapy since we're using aromas to improve psychological well-being. However, ANY aroma can be a scent trigger and that's what we want consumers to know.

In addition to being all natural, essential oils make up a big part of the aromatherapy market because of their potential health benefits. Consumers buy lavender because it's supposed to calm them down. They buy peppermint to boost energy and jasmine to help with depression. I have experienced health benefits using essential oils on their own, but there isn't enough science to back my personal claims. As the aromatherapy industry grows, we'll start to see more research on the effects of essential oils, which is something I'm looking forward to. 

Another difference with scent triggers is that it takes time to condition the brain to react a certain way. For example, some people will claim that one sniff of lavender essential oil instantly helps them sleep better. That wasn't the case for me. After a lot of experimenting, I created a unique scent that was only used before bed. After three weeks, my brain associated that unique scent with sleep. Since training my brain, I've had a more regular sleeping routine and rarely have issues falling asleep.

I applied the same process for my "focus" scent trigger. After seeing the results of my first two scent triggers, I'm now experimenting with scents for working out, writing and even testing a theory for laughing. 

That's why I want consumers to be aware that scent triggers aren't just a blend of essential oils that will make your brain act a certain way instantly. If you spent 10 years eating nothing but processed food and decided to eat healthier, you aren't going to notice results after one meal. However, if you stick to a routine you will notice changes. The same applies for scent triggers. 

Big brands already use scents to evoke emotions whether you realize it or not. We want consumers to understand the importance of scents and intentionally use them in a way that positively impacts their life. Below are a few examples of how brands use scents to influence consumer behavior. 

  • A study revealed that gamblers spend 45% more money when a floral scent is present in a casino than when there isn’t.
  • Starbucks found that customer experience was improved when they eliminated the smell of cooking their egg sandwiches, which conflicted with the smell of their freshly ground their coffee.
  • Some high-end stores will pump the scent of cardamom and frankincense lightly through their air vents to create a sense of opulence or extravagance.
  • Hyatt Place’s signature scent can be found in almost 300 hotels across the U.S. The scent is such a proven brand asset that it is considered just as important as background music, color scheme, décor, and advertising.

Intentionally using scent triggers will help change lives while creating a niche market in the fragrance industry

scent triggers

The global fragrance industry is valued at $31b. In 2018, the organic food industry in the US alone was $48b. That's because food is a necessity. Similarly to my own purchasing habits, fragrances are generally considered more of a luxury or "want" product. 

Aromatherapy consumers are a little different and the industry's current growth shows that people are interested in fragrances to help improve their lives. Like myself! That trend will continue to grow as scent triggers become more popular. The current aromatherapy industry was valued at $1.8b in 2018 and is expected to reach $2.73b by 2025. 

Consumers will also purchase multiple scent triggers for different purposes; a better night’s sleep, more focus at work, to intentionally bring back a memory, to be reminded of a loved one, to change their current mood and many more scenarios that will help improve mental health throughout the day. Just as organic food helps accomplish physical health goals, scent triggers will be the equivalent to mental health - something many people are beginning to focus on. 

Scents and our brain

As an increase in exciting discoveries related to our brain are published, we’re able to learn more about the power of scents. A recent study showed a significant increase in learning success by 30% if a person is exposed to the smell of roses during both learning and sleep phases.

“We showed that the supportive effect of fragrances works very reliably in everyday life and can be used in a targeted way,” said study leader PD Dr. Jürgen Kornmeier, head of the Perception and Cognition Research Group at the Freiburg-based IGPP and scientist at the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University of Freiburg – Medical Center in Germany.

With an increase in scientific research and technological advances, additional studies proving the importance of scents in our daily lives will occur more often. As consumers became more aware of the benefits of organic food, the market grew and even more content was shared regarding the industry.

Once the ball starts rolling about the importance of fragrances in our lives, it's only a matter of time before the scent trigger niche market grows. It's worth mentioning that Facebook didn't exist until 2004 and Instagram in 2010. If they were around when the organic food market started, the industry would have grown much quicker. I expect scent triggers to catch on quickly with social media influencers for multiple reasons that I'll cover in a future post. 

In addition to more content being shared regarding scent triggers, expect to see new regulations surrounding fragrance labeling and company transparency. Safety and regulations are important, but I don't want to end the article on a sappy topic. 

I want you to leave excited and with a different mindset regarding fragrances. So, let's talk about the future and innovating our most powerful sense.

Technology and the future of fragrances

future of scent triggers

IBM has been working on AI to help perfumers create popular fragrances. Although the company will not say which fragrances were created using the help of IBM's AI, O Boticário indicated that the products are being very well received within their target demographic. That's something that happened in 2019. How can the fragrance industry innovate even further? 

AI combined with more advanced EEG technology and interpretation might allow us to create custom scents that bring out specific emotions and help control our mood even more than they already do. How would this work? 

I imagine a store where people can come in individually or as a group to make a fragrance with a specific intention. Using an EEG, it could be possible to have a consumer smell a variety of fragrances and use data to create a custom scent for a particular outcome. Maybe a mixture of lemongrass and vanilla activates more brainwaves associated with productivity. That will be the scent trigger that the consumer uses at work. Maybe a mixture of vanilla, orange and cedar wood activates brainwaves associated with relaxation. That’s the scent trigger the consumer will use to calm down. 

Another fun example would be for stronger memory capabilities. Let’s say a group of friends have an upcoming trip to Iceland. They want to strengthen their memories and attach a scent to it so when they return, it’s easier to remember that experience. This is possible because people can remember smells with 65% accuracy after a year while visual memory drops to 50% after only a few months.

In addition, a number of behavioral studies have demonstrated that smells trigger more vivid emotional memories and are better at inducing that feeling of “being brought back in time” than images. 

That's another reason I intentionally use scents. I don't have the best memory so adding a scent into my experiences acts as a little boost. I'm sure other consumers can relate. 

Can a scent trick the brain into remembering something that hasn’t occurred yet if you condition it with a unique scent?

scent trigger

Visualizing is something that many successful people swear by. Living as if the outcome you’re trying to achieve has already happened puts your brain in a different mindset. Adding a unique scent to a specific visualization will help condition the brain to the point where your brain will “remember” something that you’ve been visualizing.

For example, if you close your eyes and visualize being promoted at work every day for three weeks with a unique scent, would smelling that fragrance at any point during the day “remind” your brain about your promotion? There isn't any science to prove this, but I've been able to create a scent that instantly brings back something I've been visualizing for three weeks. When I smell the scent trigger, the emotions I feel when the visual pops into my head can be felt. This is an area that I think AI and advances in EEG technology can help make possible. 

Phew, you made it to the end

That's a lot to take in, isn't it? In summary, it's time that consumers view fragrances differently and use our most powerful sense to intentionally improve lives. Organic food pioneers were looked at as tree hugging hippies who live in their own world during the industry's early days. You can say that diehard essential oil and aromatherapy enthusiasts have a similar image currently. However, once people start realizing the mental health benefits behind scents and that their effects are proven by science, we'll see scent triggers as a mainstream practice. 


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