Lobby scent: when it’s helpful and when it’s not

Delightfully fragranced, innovative and elegant. Do people love them or hate them? We hear that pleasing scent can improve the mood of residents and staff and increase perceptions of comfort…but can it? or is this just marketing? 

Is there a physical reason scents seem to be connected to good and bad emotions?

There are five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. However, only smells are processed through the limbic system in the brain. This part of the brain is also linked to perceptions, emotions and memories.  Humans can detect between 10,000 – 100,000 different smells. Wow! Compare that to taste we can detect less than ten different elements there.

What about emotion and scent? Is that true or imagined?

Academic studies seem like a good way to test this.

This study conducted in London and Barcelona reviewed texts from participants and cross-referenced them with scent. The findings: people send happy texts when they are near flowers or nice smells. Guess what: while when people are near garbage and other nasty odours, angry texts are sent. To make the study results reliable, participants knew their texts would be reviewed, but they were not aware scent was part of the study.

Are there studies for condos? How do we know if residents like them or not?

Scent studies for condos are not widespread, but we think a good substitute is the hotel industry. The tests cited below compare customer surveys in the same part of the same hotel both with and without ambient scent.  

This study found that customers’ satisfaction scores as well as intent to return where higher when scents were added to the space. 

Another study discovered that scent increased the perception of cleanliness and comfort among guests.

Finally, additional research learned that where scent was used, guests were emotionally more positive than those with an unscented experience.

In additon to the above, there are numerous data points showing that in retail enviornments customers tend to linger longer and spend more when ambient scent is added. To find them, go to ‘Google Scholar’ and enter “scent and retail”.

Overall, that sounds pretty good: a greater perception of cleanliness and comfort as well as a better emotional outlook.

but beware….

There are two types of scenting. Billboard scents are strong (walk in a mall and you will find some stores smell very strong at the outside). These can also be found in coffee chains and for popcorn scents in movie theathers.  The other type of scent is called ambient scent.  It might be fine to have a very strong scent in a place you visit, but this is not a great idea for a residential community. In fact, This study found  pleasantness is not linear: as scent gets stronger, reactions tend to become increasingly negative.  

Summary….and caveat

Overall?? It seems that if scents are discovered, not announced, they can improve perceptions of common areas and improve resident and staff moods.  Who wouldn’t want that?  Assuming they are healthy

Pro-Active Odor Control