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A study published in Current Biology has found that the pleasantness of certain smells is universal, and cultural or geographical background only plays a limited role in human scent perception. According to the study, the world’s favourite scent is vanilla, which has a comforting sweet and nutty fragrance. 

This is particularly interesting news if you are looking for the perfect scent marketing solution, such as a commercial air freshener for a hotel lobby. International brands often deploy the strategic use of fragrance in their public buildings to create a memorable and welcoming atmosphere, and to build a unified brand identity. 

Participants from a range of cultural backgrounds, including city dwellers, rural and farming communities, hunter gatherers, and indigenous groups from the southeast Asian rainforest were asked to rate ten different scents from most to least pleasant. The scents were supplied to remote areas in small vials.

Artin Arshamian, a neuroscientist at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, said in a statement:

“Cultures around the world rank different odours in a similar way no matter where they come from, but odour preferences have a personal – although not cultural – component.”

Arshamian added: “Now we know that there’s universal odor perception that is driven by molecular structure, and that explains why we like or dislike a certain smell. The next step is to study why this is so by linking this knowledge to what happens in the brain when we smell a particular odor.”

The researchers found that across all cultures, vanilla was the preferred scent, followed by ethyl butane, which has a sweet fruity smell. The researchers are going to carry out further tests to discover why this is the case.

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Benefit from a free consultation session with no strings attached. Either choose a time slot here or submit the form below. 

Our team is here to help find the perfect scent marketing or odor control solution for your business. 

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