At the Testpoint Milano Milano location, a very special product test has recently been carried out: a sniff test to evaluate different fragrances for a new air freshener. 50 people, in several sessions, took part in the test.

Odours, memory, emotions

How often does it happen, in a supermarket, to open and smell products such as detergents, fabric softeners, shampoos or bubble baths? The smell is often important when choosing a product and can determine our propensity to purchase. This is because the sense of smell is a very old sense: the odours are processed at limbic level, an area of the brain where the memory structures exist, so they are easier to memorize than visual stimuli and are even more closely related to memories. How can we not think of the famous Maddalenetta perfume that gives way to Proust’s “In search of lost time”? In fact, the perfume is transformed into emotion, remains in memory much more than an image and does not require special attention or concentration to be remembered.

All companies that market cosmetic products, but also products for home hygiene and personal care perfectly know how the smell is important in the choice and this is why they decide to test the products with a sniff test: to choose the most appreciated fragrance and to determine the intensity of the fragrance that can best fix in the consumer’s memory, arousing the right emotions

How was the sniff test carried out?

Respondents – carefully selected during a preliminary screening phase – were required to smell, one at a time, four little cotton balls soaked in the essences to be tested, four variants of an air freshener. After sniffing each cotton ball, participants had to self-complete a short, online questionnaire. As the final phase of the test, they were asked to compare the four fragrances by smelling the four cotton balls again to establish a ranking.

The sniff test is extremely important for manufacturers as consumers express their preferences and make their choices not only based on the objective performance of a product but also on the basis of less rational and more emotional aspects that must be investigated and considered in the production phase, in order to reach the optimal product.

The use of soaked cotton balls allowed participants to give their evaluations referring only to the fragrance to be tested, without being influenced by other factors. For example, it was not simulated the use of the product, its effectiveness, its permanence in the environment: respondents were asked to concentrate only and exclusively on the fragrance to identify the best one.

Sniff test: a stimulating experience

Who has been recruited for our sniff tests hopes to be selected again because it finds the experience nice and useful: the participants find it very interesting to be able to evaluate new fragrances and give their feedback so that companies can manufacture their products listening to consumers’ opinion.