0234 7732466

Consumer Insight Consulting

Kiefernweg 30, 44801 Bochum 


Unlocking olfactory perceptions and emotions

Fragrance exploration: Background 

When creating or reworking fragrances for specific products, brands and target groups it is not sufficient to know WHICH type of fragrances or fragrance themes are potential winners against others.

To optimize a fragrance and product development process it is also necessary to understand WHY specific fragrances are preferred against others and WHAT different fragrance themes communicate.

This requires a detailed understanding of the olfactory perception of a scent which implies a detailed description via extended vocabulary by normal consumers

Research Methods



  • Focus groups               
  • Mini-groups               
  • In-depth explorations               
  • Paired in-depths               
  • Expert interviews (B to B)               
  • Creative workshops               
  • Ethnographics  
  • Online moderation



  • Sniff tests               
  • Concept tests               
  • Packaging tests            

Fragrance exploration: Situation 

A perfumer or fragrance expert is used to identify and to describe the complexity of a fragrance character.


Real consumers are human beings: They have difficulties being conscious about what they are looking for regarding scents and fragrances and describing what they smell.

The mind & heart fragrance exploration enables consumers to talk with rich vocabulary and translates consumer language for the expert.          


This helps product developers to rework their products in the right direction based on valid consumer insights.             

Fragrance exploration: Possible objectives

Unlocking the unconscious and perceptual world of smell/fragrance:                 


  • A profound understanding of the perception, description and interpretation of specific fragrances by consumers.

A preparation for quantitative fragrance and product testing 


  • Generation of a list of relevant fragrance attributes for a specific product category and country/ target group . 
  • Development of a fragrance attribute glossary.      

Fragrance exploration: Methodology

  • An intensive, profound and direct dialogue with the consumer
  • Qualitative exploration of up to 5 different fragrances in the context of focus groups
  • Usage of projective techniques and specific stimulus material

 Interactive approach:             


  • Focus group with 8 consumers and 1 moderator  
  • Participation of 1 or 2 clients (with fragrance expertise) in the group possible

Fragrance exploration: Synestesia 

Connection with the other senses

Usage of a group of stimuli that allow an access to consumer’s feelings through his/ her senses in addition to the pictures: e.g. fabrics, sounds, colours, taste (needs to be thought over carefully to find the right taste examples) 

Stimuli should depend on the research objectives            

Fragrance exploration: Synestesia:  Application -

When and what can the approach

be used for? 

  • Profound understanding of the olfactory perception of a specific fragrance                       
  • Understanding the functional and emotional connotations of different fragrance elements (to give guidance to perfumers and/ or R&D for the development and/ or rework of fragrances)             
  • Evaluating which fragrances fit to a defined product and/or concept (possible option: concept development based on the scents)                     
  • Finding out which fragrance elements best define a sensation: Helping to define the sensations conveyed by the product.                       
  • Generating a list of relevant fragrance attributes for quantitative product testing.  

The described qualitative fragrance research approach is a tool for fragrance screening.                    

For the final selection of the right fragrance when launching a new product a quantitative fragrance testing is recommended.