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What is a sniff test: a case study
Fragrance plays an integral part in determining consumer acceptability of a product. Perfumes play many roles; masking unpleasant base odours, providing hedonically pleasing fragrances, and perhaps most important of all, reinforcing brand image and positioning. Therefore perfume selection is an essential part of product development.
The number of possible fragrance notes is virtually infinite. Therefore selecting the most suitable for a products can be difficult at best. Traditionally there has been a degree of guesswork involved in perfume selection, however it is possible to choose the most suitable perfume based on statistically sound, scientific data collected through the sniff test methodology.
The sniff test is an analysis function used to identify which fragrances are potentially more attractive to consumers.
It enables to evaluate::
the importance of the fragrance in the formulation of the product (these are generally products for cleaning, hygiene, beauty, perfumes and cosmetics in general);
positive and negative aspects of each tested fragrance;
emotional and functional aspects evoked by each tested fragrance;
the “olfactory” territory of the brand / product, tracing patterns and behaviors connected to the fragrance (what does it evoke and what kind of consumer prefers it?);
to test the functional territory of the fragrance: what kind of product can this fragrance be connected to?
How to organize a sniff test
Sniff test follow very strict protocols, starting with sample selection.
Obviously, people whose sense of smell is compromised cannot be invited, therefore people with colds, allergies or other diseases that alter their sense of smell.
Respondents are invited to attend the test without wearing perfume or with any other kind of persistent odors: all this, in fact, could affect the conditions of the test and alter the results.
The product – be it a perfume, a detergent, a cosmetic or the essence itself – is presented in a bottle closed with a cap: respondents must take care to close the bottle immediately after sniffing the product, in order to avoid dispersion of the fragrance into the environment and disturb the evaluation of the other participants.
After testing each fragrance, respondents are asked to smell the crook of their arm: in this way, the sense of smell is neutralized and it is possible to test the next fragrance without the risk of being influenced by the previous product.
The importance of the surrounding environment
To allow a correct evaluation of the fragrance it is essential that the test takes place in an environment absolutely free of any type of odor.
It is therefore important to verify that the following conditions are respected: for the cleaning of the room where the test takes place, fragrance-free products must be used; the staff who assists the respondents during the test must be recommended not to wear any type of perfume; the room must be ventilated for at least 10 minutes at the end of each interview session; the room must be equipped with a system to guarantee air exchange.
In short, the organization of a sniff test is very delicate: the protocol must be followed rigorously and all the conditions mentioned above must be scrupulously respected because only in this way it will be possible to check whether the product under test really has the perfume of success!