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Firmenich Scientists Translate the Connection Between Scents & Context to Deliver Stronger Emotional Benefits

Geneva, Switzerland, February 18th, 2021 -

Scientific research by Firmenich, the world’s largest privately-owned fragrance and taste company, has determined that consumer context is the key to establishing emotional benefits with fragrance. After years of research validated by peer-reviewed publications, Firmenich has proven that its three-tiered approach, based on odor-emotion scales, consumer verbalization and implicit testing, delivers unique scents with stronger emotional benefits for consumers.


“To drive emotion through scent, one solution does not fit all. For example, the smell of durian fruit recalls energy and wellbeing in China, but triggers dislike in the US,” said Ilaria Resta, President, Global Perfumery. “By applying our proprietary scientific and consumer research, we can help customers create stronger emotional impact, with contextualized solutions that reflect country and category preferences.”


“Seventy percent of consumers’ daily decisions are based on emotions(*),” explained Dr. Christelle Porcherot, Corporate R&D Principal Scientist. “Scents trigger strong emotions; however, the link between a scent and an emotion depends on the individual’s experiences in life and the context in which a person smells the scent.” 


Through neuroscience, Firmenich researchers are able to understand the transformation of molecular signals into odor and memories. ScentMove® is Firmenich’s proprietary emotion evaluation model and showcases nine emotional dimensions across 25 commonly used terms, far beyond simply pleasant feelings. Using fMRI scans of individuals’ brain activity while smelling different perfumes, ScentMove® reveals patterns that correspond to different emotional profiles. However, to develop relevant solutions, Firmenich also takes into account the effects of learning and memory. Cultural background, life experiences and encountered smells shape emotions, as our brain adapts to changing environments.


“The emotional response can partly be tracked by physiological measurements and brain recordings such as fMRI scans; but ultimately, only verbalization about the experienced feelings provide a true understanding of the quality of the emotions elicited by fragrance,” said Dr. Christian Margot, Distinguished Scientist and Director, Corporate Research & Development. “This enables us to establish the link between emotion and context."


Firmenich was founded 125 years ago by a talented chemist and an entrepreneur, and scientific research is at the root of its activities. The company invests on average 10% of its annual turnover in R&D. Using a multidisciplinary approach, chemists, biologists, physicists and researchers produce groundbreaking discoveries that continue to shape the fragrance and flavors industry: from finding complex odorants inspired by nature, to smart delivery systems and new formulations driven by Artificial Intelligence. Firmenich uses both data and consumer insights to drive fragrance creation, design and innovation, enhancing fragrance benefits for both customers and consumers worldwide.


More information about the work of Firmenich scientists on the sense of smell is available on


(*) Gallup, June 2020.


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About Firmenich


Firmenich is the world’s largest privately-owned fragrance and taste company, founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1895 and has been family-owned for 125 years. Firmenich is a leading business-to-business company specialized in the research, creation, manufacture and sale of perfumes, flavors and ingredients. Renowned for its world-class research and creativity, as well as its leadership in sustainability, Firmenich offers its customers superior innovation in formulation, a broad and high-quality palette of ingredients, and proprietary technologies including biotechnology, encapsulation, olfactory science and taste modulation. Firmenich had an annual turnover of 3.9 billion Swiss Francs at end June 2020. More information about Firmenich is available at