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Firmenich’s Focus-Enhancing Fragrance Development

Published January 22, 2023
Published January 22, 2023
JC Media via Unsplash

Scent is a driving factor for retail success, so much so that 40% of consumers decide what store to shop in based on the smell of the environment. In a recent study by Givaudan, it was found that 75% of the emotions humans feel are a result of smell, and 85% of beauty customers feel fragrance has a mood-boosting effect on their general well-being. With these discoveries coming to light, several businesses have investigated the relationship between the human brain and fragrance. Firmenich is among the latest to delve into the world of neurologically based scent, launching EmotiCODE Focus, a set of fragrances said to improve concentration. The launch is the newest addition to the company's EmotiON program, created to bring together proprietary consumer insights, research, and the expertise of perfumers to deliver positive emotions through scent.

EmotiCODE Focus fragrances have been created using a set of patent-pending fragrance design rules that will provide consumers with the benefit of improved focus, as 62% say they struggle with concentrating throughout a day. "Focus is crucial to mental wellness," says Ilaria Resta, President for Global Perfumery. "Now, for the first time ever, we can help consumers achieve focus, wherever they are, with fragrance. These fragrances can deliver related benefits, such as mental efficiency and clarity of mind, bringing the power of positive perfumery to consumers."

The fragrances' ability to enhance concentration was validated using specific behavioral tasks and research, starting with ScentMove, a proprietary emotional wheel that links fragrances to emotions with a system that ladders up to 25 terms associated with emotion, allowing consumers to effectively communicate how they feel. Once the emotions were identified, Firmenich worked closely with digital accelerator D-Lab to create the final set of fragrance rules. The list of rules was created based on the duo's unique IRIS database, an interactive research intelligence system that stores data from over 34,000 fragrances and 1.9MM consumer interviews that took place across 50 different countries.

To test the product's accuracy, Firmenich followed the Stroop Task method, a classical paradigm to measure interference and attention, and a mental arithmetic task that measures quantitative reasoning. The tests confirmed EmotiCODE Focus increased mental processing speed in both tasks performed in comparison to regular or placebo fragrances.

"At Firmenich, we have an industry-leading set of data coming from extensive global research on consumer insights. We've done comprehensive analysis to be able to study the emotional responses of humans to scents," says Sarah Reisinger, Chief Research Officer. "For over 25 years, our scientists at Firmenich have been leading neuroscientific research on olfaction and emotion. Our research on scent perception and bioresponse is very extensive and paved the way for us to understand the transformation of molecular signals into odor, flavor and emotions."

The announcement of EmotiCODE Focus allows Firmenich’s consumers improved experiences with their fragrances. The innovation is particularly powerful as it opens the gates to various questions surrounding the capability fragrance has to aid consumers in their everyday lives and tasks. While the fragrance technology is currently being used on a smaller scale, future perspectives for its use are worth considering. With the ability to aid concentration and improve mood through scent, perfumers could well be the next in line to tackle ongoing research surrounding potential mental health solutions on a larger scale, among other categories.


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