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  • Writer's pictureYoung Lee


I have a very distinct memory of standing on a cliff above the Mediterranean sea looking out at the setting sun. There was the clear and fresh smell of wild rosemary wafting in the air.

The unmistakable scent of the sea was as perspicuous as the view in front of me. It’s an occasion etched in my mind, one that both the smell of fresh rosemary or the sea can chronicle that exact moment.

Everyone has these recollections, these moments of reminiscence, where a scent will not only trigger something nostalgic but also create an entirely new memory which their brain will catalogue and register waiting to be triggered again at some point in the future.

The amount of these reactions are seemingly endless. For example, I still always remember the smell that a certain airline sprayed in their cabins. That particular scent I will always associate with travel. And then there was this citrus- floral scent that was ever present on my 6th grade teacher. Ok, it probably helped that she was young and pretty and to my 10 year old brain somehow attainable, but I’ll always remember that particular fragrance and associate it with learning and puppy love.

Humans have always used scent association to navigate the complex world around them. Perhaps during prehistoric times, it was even more important. Your survival may have literally depended on it. Likely today, it’s less important to the continuation of the species, but it is still a massively powerful influence in our lives.

Scientists who study the kind of thing say that up to 70% of all decisions made by the average person is at the very least influenced by smell, if not completely based on it. It may sound like a lot, but stop for a moment and think about it. Stop right now and smell around you. Is it nice? Do you like it? Would you change it if you could?

People, both men and women have been using fragrances for 1000s of years to gently alter a given situation. be it creative or fresh or stimulating or even arousing, scents are powerful messages that the brain simply can’t ignore.

As I said before too, even an airline chose to use a certain scent which passengers would always recognise when boarding a flight with them. Take another airline and that essence no longer greats you. The experience is not the same. This is clever marketing.

But, in a way, we are all "marketing" ourselves. How others perceive us goes way beyond how we look, or how we carry ourselves. It’s just that those appear to be the most obvious factors that people consider. But scents are actually more powerful than most of the general public recognise. Perhaps they are more subtle, but just think about it. How many times have you thought, “he/she smell really nice”. it is something that your brain registers, often without a conscious thought, about people, places and things.

The world of odours is the most powerful catalyst of our reactions, be it the essence of a delicious meal, a powerful pheromone stirring an emotion in your brain or the whiff of an aroma which carries you back to a place from long ago. Regardless of the scent, There is no escaping the power of fragrances.



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