Quick Links

Scent Research

There is a growing amount of academic and private research on the sense of smell to create desirable consumer responses. Here are a few resources for more information.


Monell Chemical Senses Center
The Monell Chemical Senses Center is the world's only non-profit basic research institute devoted exclusively to advancing knowledge of the mechanisms and functions of the chemical senses: taste, smell and chemosensory irritation. It was established in 1968 and is dedicated to exploring the chemical senses at every level. Monell has been recognized as the premier institute for chemosensory research.

Sense of Smell Institute
The Sense of Smell Institute (SOSI) is a non-profit charitable organization. Its unique mission is to explore the sense of smell and the human response to odors. The institute is a leading global resource for information relating to the sense of smell and its role in enhancing the quality of life. The Institute encourages exploration into the broader multi-sensory context of smell, including how it interacts with taste.

Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation
Under the guidance of founder and neurological director Dr. Alan Hirsch, the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of smell and taste-related disorders. In addition, the staff's research extends to the effects of odors and flavors on human emotion, mood, behavior and disease states.

Dr. Rachel Herz - Brown University
Rachel S. Herz is currently Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University Medical School. Her research focuses on olfactory cognition and perception and the roles and features of emotion, memory, and language. Using an experimental approach grounded in evolutionary theory and incorporating both cognitive-behavioral and psychological techniques, Dr. Herz aims to understand how biological mechanisms and cognitive processes interact to influence perception, cognition, and behavior.

Dr. Alan Hirsh - Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation
As the founder and neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, Dr. Hirsch specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of many smell- and taste-related disorders.

For over 25 years, Dr. Hirsch has dedicated his medical career to helping people to overcome the loss of smell and taste sensations and once again enjoy fulfilling lives. To read his full CV click here. He has also used his expertise to assist people with normal sensory abilities to take advantage of the full power of their senses of smell and taste.

To date, Dr. Hirsch has conducted more than 180 studies on sensory phenomena and disorders. Many of these studies have explored how enhancing certain smells and tastes can impact eating patterns, mood, perception and even learning speed. In addition, Dr. Hirsch is currently conducting more than 80 studies on the effects of smell and taste on weight loss, sleep, consumer preferences and sexual habits, among many other topics.

Eric R. Spangenberg, Ph.D. - Washington State University
Eric Spangenburg is a Professor of Marketing at the College of Business and Economics and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Research at Washington State University. Spangenberg's main research includes assessing how consumers react to environmental stimuli, most notable his research into the effects of scents on consumer behavior in a retail environment.

Spangenberg's research has appeared in the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Applied Psychology, Psychological Science, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing and several other scholarly publications. The BBC filmed Spangenberg for a documentary series on retail environments and consumer responses. The series aired on the BBC-2 in the UK and Europe, and on The Learning Channel in the United States. Spangenberg's research has also been featured on CBS, in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and a number of other major news outlets worldwide.

Dr. Gerald Zaltman - Harvard Business School
Gerald Zaltman is a Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. He is also a member of Harvard University's "Mind, Brain, and Behavior Interfaculty Initiative," and is Co-Director of the Mind of the Market Laboratory. His major research interests focus on consumer buying behavior and how the mind, body and environment interact to drive our buying decisions.

In his book, How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, Zaltman argues that the answers to consumer buying behavior lie in how the mind works and discusses the strong connection between the sense of smell and the emotional and memory functions of the brain. Building on research from neurology, sociology and cognitive science, Zaltman offers insight into how people create associations and illustrates how companies are transforming this knowledge into value for their customers.

Professor Zaltman has also been published widely in such journals as the Journal of Marketing Research, The Journal of Marketing, The Journal of Advertising Research, Knowledge, The American Behavioral Scientist, and Industrial Marketing Management. In addition, Professor Zaltman holds three U.S. Patents involving market research tools.

Articles & Publications


Brand Sense: Building Brands with Sensory Experiences

Harvest Consulting Group, LLC, 2001
Download PDF

Effects of Gender-Congruent Ambient Scent on Approach and Avoidance Behaviors in a Retail Store

Eric R. Spangenberg - Journal of Business Research: November, 2004
Download PDF

It's Beginning to Smell (and Sound) a Lot Like Christmas: The Interactive Effects of Ambient Scent and Music in a Retail Setting

Eric R. Spangenberg - Journal of Business Research: December, 2003
Download PDF

Odor-associative Learning and Emotion: Effects on Perception and Behavior

Dr. Rachel S. Herz - Chemical Senses: 2005
Download PDF

A Naturalistic Analysis of Autobiographical Memories Triggered by Olfactory Visual and Auditory Stimuli

Dr. Rachel S. Herz - Chemical Senses: 2004
Download PDF

Odor-evoked Autobiographical Memories: Psychological Investigations of Proustian Phenomena

Simon Chu and John J. Downes - Chemical Senses: 2000
Download PDF

Scents and Sensitivity

The Economist.com: December, 2007
Download PDF

The Use of Olfaction to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Diotima von Klempski - Journal of the Human-Environmental System: 2002
Download PDF

Olfaction, Emotion and the Amygdala

Mark Hughes - Impulse: The Premier Journal for Undergraduate Publications in the Neurosciences: June, 2004
Download PDF

Congruency of Scent and Music as a Driver of In-Store Evaluations and Behavior

Anna S. Mattila and Jochen Wirtz - Journal of Retailing, April 2001
Download PDF

Emotional Responses to Pleasant and Unpleasant Olfactory, Visual, and Auditory Stimuli: a Positron Emission Tomography Study

Jean-P. Royet, David Zald, RÈmy Versace, Nicolas Costes, Frank Lavenne, Olivier Koenig, and RÈmi Gervais - The Journal of Neuroscience, October 2000
Download PDF

Anomalies in Cognition: Olfactory Memory

Gesualdo M. Zucco - European Psycologist, June 2003
Download PDF

Sensorial Marketing for Those Who Can Wait No Longer

John McDonnell, Queensland University of Technology
Download PDF

Making Scents: Aromatic Output for Human-Computer Interaction

Joseph Kaye - Interactions: January/February, 2004
Download PDF