Scent expert Olivia Jezler

Olivia Jezler is the founder of Future Of Smell. With expertise in helping brands and technologies design experience-enhancing solutions, we asked her how she feels UK retailers can maximise their customers’ home fragrance experience instore

Brits buy an average of six candles a year? Why do you think they’re such a popular purchase?

Brits love scents! Candles are affordable and versatile accessories for the home that can easily add a new dimension to a space. And if you don’t like the scent, it’s easier to throw out than a new rug, for example.

Why do you think sales of home fragrance boomed during lockdown?

I think it’s because people realised how powerful scent is in enhancing their mood and providing comfort. Home fragrance is affordable and can be easily used to alter a space; it can create change, depending on one’s needs. Home fragrance is an invisible tool. This is especially powerful if people have limited space because, rather like lighting, fragrance can change the way a space feels and make it better support their current activity.

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Why is fragrance so closely linked to emotion, mood and memories?

Smell is the only sense where the stimuli have a direct connection to our brains. Molecules travel up the nasal passageway and directly bind to the olfactory receptors and are transmitted to our amygdala, a collection of cells near the base of the brain.

We are also constantly sampling olfactory information through every breath and deciding how to react or respond. Is it safe? Is it out of the ordinary? From an evolutionary perspective, emotions are believed to signal safety or imminent danger and motivate the individual to either approach or avoid. Smell, emotion and learning are linked for this purpose to help us learn what is good and avoid unpleasant experiences, such as poisonous foods.

How important do you think colour and design are when it comes to a successful home fragrance product?

Very important, as home fragrance is usually a visible object in the home, so colour and packaging are important. However, even though the packaging and vessel are the first thing that people see, they don’t guarantee repeat purchase – it’s the scent that does this. It has to be unique, recognisable, yet different and of a high quality. People have become more educated and know what ‘cheap’ scents smell like.

For a small gift retailer taking their first steps into home fragrance, where would be a good place to start?

I would recommend starting with three different fragrance categories to capture different scent preferences, definitely including a rose scent for the UK market. Remember also to focus on the branding and packaging as this is the first thing a customer will notice. Think about adding new dimensions to the scent descriptions – aside from the fragrance notes, possibly add visuals or audio, examples of when to use this scent or what mood it would enhance. This is particularly important given today’s restrictions due to Covid-19. The more information you give about the scent story, the easier it is for a customer to buy in.

Should gift stores consider using their own ‘signature scent’ in their retail space?

Definitely! Maybe at even low thresholds as scent does not need to be fully noticeable, but it enhances the perception of the space and the products being sold. Scent will also make people willing to pay more for the products – there are studies on this!

How can retailers encourage men to buy more home fragrance products?

Use visual elements/displays to make them appeal to men and also adapt the narrative to be fun and easy to understand. Explain how it can change your space from x to y, how can it benefit certain moments in your day. Think about giving very clear concise and practical messaging that highlights how this is a valuable product for them to buy.

You can read the full interview with Olivia in Gift Today’s Home Fragrance supplement HERE.

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