Olfactory Brand Ownership: A study on olfactory brand enhancement of brand recognition

Cecilie Vernon Nørsgaard & Rikke Søs Rasmussen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The olfactory link to the brain's emotional center is a fascinating frontier in neuroscience, behavioural science and marketing. The ambition for this study is to provide a new perspective on the emerging and controversial area of sensory neuromarketing and the concept of olfactory brand ownership with enhancing brand recognition through sent. A brand image represents the tangible benefits, whereas the personality of the brand indicates an emotional association to this specific brand. Brand personality cultivates brand equity, which determines the brand attitude. The concept of brand equity is to indicate the value of the brand, which added value to the product becomes the virtue of the brand. Incorporating odour in a branding strategy is therefore valuable. Our experimental design draws upon olfaction, emotion and associative learning theory and the effect on the motivated behaviour, which is proven by Rachel Herz, 2004 (Theory on associative learning). Results from the experiment revealed that participants’ pupil dilation showed a significant emotional reaction when presented with a scent. Furthermore, the results showed that a stronger emotional reaction towards a scent, in fact did not have a significant importance in generating a superior recognition of the brands. It was also found that the participants’ hedonic perceptions influence the ability to recognise brands via an odour, depending on how familiar or pleasant the odour is to the individual. Finally, it was found that a possibility of enhancing brand recognition through odours occurred, but a more in-depth discussion and investigation on this matter is important in understanding the findings. The findings argues, that the conditioned response between an odour and a brand needs to be experienced more through continuously repetition to create a conditioned response with a higher probability for brand recognition.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages140