The Age of Scent
You may not realise it, but the scent is everywhere these days, and we’re not talking about perfumes and colognes exclusively. There was once a time when the world didn’t quite smell as good as it does today – we could go back to the middle ages or beyond, when bathing wasn’t as common as it is today, and the world was, by all theories (naturally there is a lack of contemporary documentation concerning how terrible things smelled in the year 1000) a much smellier place.
The Modern Trend
Even in modern times, the world is smelling better and better every single day, however, because corporations and places are striving to make themselves smell better. Where once you had to deal with all the unpleasant scents of the world, from petrol and tire rubber at service stations to someone else’s poor hygiene or stress-sweat when sitting in an airport lounge, increasingly businesses and companies are using custom fragrances to make the world a better-smelling place.
United Airlines, for example, has a custom scent it calls ‘Landing’ that it pumps into the air at its lounges in certain airports. It’s a herbal-based scent, light and subtle, and the airline uses to create what it calls ‘positive transition moments.’ In practical terms what this means is that you don’t have to be assaulted by a mix of fast food, body odour, and cleaning supply smells as you try to meditate and bring your heart rate down while waiting for a plane. Similarly, Delta Airlines has a scent called ‘Calm’ that it uses, and airlines aren’t alone; American clothing retailer Benetton infuses its stores with a scent based on its signature Verde Cologne.
Additionally, the scent is making its way into everything else, especially men’s body washes and other grooming products. This means that between better-smelling men and better-smelling public areas, the world, in general, smells better than ever before (or, when there are too many clashing and competing smells, perhaps not so much better).
This new trend of adding fragrance to the very air we breathe is having an effect on the perfume industry, of course. The exact nature of that effect is fascinatingly unexpected, however; while sales of low-end fragrances have been in decline, premium fragrances have been going gangbusters, with sales rising steadily for the last fifteen years, topping out at $5.2 billion in 2014. Why, if the world is smelling better, are premium scents flying off the shelves?
Perhaps because people no longer have to worry about how the world smells, and can concentrate on choosing their own signature scent. After all, when you no longer have to deal with how your seat mate on an aeroplane smells, you can indulge in some personal creativity and choose your own personal scent as part of your ensemble and personal brand.
In the end, what really matters is that the world does, indeed, smell better than it did in the past, and as anyone who has experienced a service station in the last few decades can assure you, this is a very good thing.