It is now expected that commercial spaces and care facilities such as gyms, hotels, and hospitals are not only visually appealing but that they also smell pleasant. The power of scent has really come to the fore as a marketing tool over the past few years, and quite rightly so. Fragrances are a key way of forming a positive first impression.

Our sense of smell is directly linked to memory and emotional recall in a more profound way than other senses such as sight or hearing. We may forget a speech or a face after a certain amount of time, but a certain smell can instantly transport us back over decades, and with it all the emotions we experienced at the time.

That’s why businesses and organizations work hard to find the right fragrance for their commercial scent diffusers. Understanding fragrance families is the first step to helping you select a welcoming scent that will have a lasting impact on your visitors and customers.


What is meant by a fragrance family?

Fragrance family is a classification that is used in the perfumery sector to divide scents into different olfactory categories. Each category has a set of defining characteristics that are used to evoke a particular mood or emotional response. Fragrance families are sometimes visually represented on a wheel to show how they relate to each other.

Complex scents may be made up of two or three fragrance families that have been blended together. There is also some crossover between the families, sometimes referred to as subfamilies. The fragrances that sit opposite to each other on the wheel are the most distinct from each other, while those that are side by side have the most in common.

When we are choosing a perfume or fragrance for ourselves, we can of course be guided by our personal preferences. However, when choosing fragrances for a public space, it’s important to consider the atmosphere you want to create and how the scent might influence mood and behavior.


The main fragrance families


Floral scents are very popular, and in the summertime we can smell fresh blooms in the garden such as rose, iris, and lily of the valley. They are considered to be soft and calming, and are widely used in spaces where a tranquil atmosphere is desired, such as spas, hotel rooms, and care homes.

Floral scents work well on their own (single flower notes or soliflores) or in combinations (blended floral notes or bouquets). Within the floral category are further sub-categories, notably ‘soft floral’ and ‘oriental.’  Soft florals are considered to be sweet and musky, and are often used for powders such as lilac and lavender. 

Oriental florals are smooth with a slightly spicy top note, such as jasmine and orange blossom. You may also find floral fragrances classified by their intensity. Light florals such as lilies have a delicate scent, medium floral such as rose are moderate, and heavy florals such as jasmine are the most intense.


Citrus fragrances are sometimes also categorized as the ‘fresh’ family. They are bright zingy scents such as bergamot, sweet orange, clementine, and lemon. These scents are considered to be energizing and uplifting, and are popular choices for gyms and wellness centers. 

They are also associated with cleanliness and are therefore widely used in hospitals and other healthcare facilities to create an impression of order and pride in the environment. Citrus notes are considered to be sunny and positive, and they blend well with floral notes to create a pleasing and well rounded fragrance. 


The amber family includes herbs, spices, and resins. They are described as exotic and warm, and are often used to evoke a sense of luxury and sophistication. Amber scents are often found in hotels and high-end retail stores. Popular amber fragrances include sandalwood, patchouli, musk, vanilla, and cinnamon. 

Amber has subfamilies including soft amber and woody amber. They are rich and long lasting fragrances that are pleasing as single notes, and also blend well with florals.


Woody fragrances are considered to be earthy and warm, and are often used as an anchor note to lighter and more delicate floral fragrances. They may have a leathery or suede note and can also be outdoorsy, smokey and mossy. They are a charismatic and cozy fragrance family that works well in restaurants and bars. 


Fruity fragrances are joyful and inspiring, and are often used when a creative or energetic environment is desired. They can be lush, sweet, or slightly tart, and are a natural partner to fresh citrusy scents or florals. They may suit retail and educational environments in particular.

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Benefit from a free consultation session with no strings attached. Our team is here to help find the perfect scent marketing or odor control solution for your business.

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