- Beauty brands are turning to neurocentric research and technology to sniff out what attracts buyers.
- Today’s perfumers go beyond the nose to develop the scents that appeal most to us. They are turning to artificial intelligence.
- Perfumes can now be designed to trigger emotional responses using ingredients known as neurocentres. There are scents that have been shown to evoke different emotions such as calm, excited or sleepy, according to biometric measurements.
Making perfume is an art that dates back to Ancient Greece. But today’s perfumers are starting to look beyond their noses to develop the scents that will appeal to us most. They are turning to artificial intelligence.
Perfumes can now be designed to trigger emotional responses using ingredients known as neurocentres. There are scents that have been shown to evoke different emotions such as calm, excited or sleepy, according to biometric measurements.
Hugo Ferreira, a researcher at the Institute of Biophysics and Biomedical Engineering in Lisbon, is creating a neurosynthetic database by mapping brain activity and responses to perfumes. “With the senses of sight and hearing, you can imagine the face of your loved one or your favorite melody,” Ferreira said. “Even though a scent can trigger a lot of emotions and memories, it’s hard to imagine.” says.
Ferreira states that this is due to the structure of the olfactory system. Messages from olfactory receptors are sent via the olfactory bulb to different brain areas that control everything from memory or thirst to stress responses. “Olfaction is the most diverse sense with many different receptors. It is estimated that there are approximately 400 different olfactory receptor gene families. Among other things, these various connections may explain how we can ‘smell fear’ or ‘smell victory.’
Many beauty brands have invested in neurosynthetic research and technology because of the great possibilities of creating scents proven to make consumers feel good. L’Oréal has partnered with neurotechnology company Emotiv to create a fragrance selection “experience.” Throughout 2023, shoppers at select Yves Saint Laurent stores around the world used a headset to create an electroencephalogram (EEG) to discover which scents appealed to them. Results so far show that 95% of customers using the headset find the right perfume. Fashion and fragrance company Puig says it took 45 million brain readings from men aged 18-35 to develop Paco Rabanne’s Phantom cologne and added lavender and lemon to the formula as a result of the research. Givenchy Irresistible eau de parfum, from the Very Irresistible series, which has been on the bestseller list for 20 years, contains a rose essence called “anti-morose”, selected after biometric research.
While mass-market fragrances can only benefit so much from this technology, any fragrance offered on five continents must appeal to a wide audience, with niche perfumers creating ultra-personal formulas. South Korean company Amorepacific’s personalized bath bomb, created using real-time biological data by a “bath robot”, is unfortunately not available internationally, but EveryHuman, an algorithmic perfumery based in the Netherlands, produces unique scents in minutes using surveys and algorithms. The company has also branched out into air fresheners this month, and now visitors to London’s Moooi furniture store can watch its Willy Wonka-like machines in action.
Anahita Mekanik is the co-founder of EveryHuman and has worked in fragrance development and marketing for large perfume companies for 20 years. Mekanik says: “The reason I am interested in algorithmic perfumery is that it allows people to directly interact with scent. What I found most fascinating as a fragrance developer was that thousands of iterations were made and discarded for each scent released. “Evaluating all those ‘flawed’ trials that never reached consumers – some of which they would have loved – was at the core of the development process.”
According to Ferreira, the magic comes from the nature of scent: “We are all familiar with the use of scents in cosmetics and aromatherapy that positively impact our sense of self, but these applications may only be scratching the surface of the therapeutic benefits of scent molecules. “How smell can be modulated for health or other purposes is a study that will take several lifetimes.”
Compiled by: Alp Eren Gümüş