Proustian Products are Preferred: The Relationship Between Odor-Evoked Memory and Product Evaluation
- 646 Downloads
The Proustian memory effect—that fragrances elicit more emotional and evocative memories than other memory cues—is well established. Fragrances also potentiate a variety of psychological states from moods to motivated behavior. Consumer research has shown that pleasant, product-congruent scents enhance product appeal, that products with greater emotional and cognitive involvement are perceived more positively, and that scent can increase recall for product information. However, the effect of Proustian memories on product perception has never been examined. The aim of the present study was to address this issue.
An extensive pilot test in which the methods for the main experiment were established was first conducted. The main experiment then tested how a product (body lotion) that varied in fragrance pleasantness and Proustian memory potency was perceived.
Data analyses from a nationwide study showed that if the lotion fragrance was perceived as very pleasant, and it evoked potent personal emotional memories, that lotion was liked better and judged to be superior on a variety of functional and emotional attributes than the same lotion whose scent was perceived as equally pleasant but was not experienced as evocative.
Our findings demonstrate that it is the personal potency of Proustian memories evoked by a product’s fragrance, more than the hedonic qualities of the scent per se, that drives product perception and has important implications for the development of scented products.
KeywordsProustian memory Odor Pleasantness Consumer preferences Scented products
Compliance with Ethics Requirements
Conflict of Interest
Rachel Herz has received research grants from Kao Corporation. All other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
- Alba JW, Huchinson JW, Lynch JG (1991) Memory and decision making. In: Roberston TS, Kassarjian HH (eds) Handbook of consumer behavior. Prentice-Hall, New Jersey, pp 1–49Google Scholar
- Arshamian A, Iannilli E, Gerber JC, Willander J, Persson J, Seo H, & … Larsson M (2013) The functional neuroanatomy of odor-evoked autobiographical memories cued by odors and words. Neuropsychologia 51:123–131Google Scholar
- Engen T (1988) The acquisition of odor hedonics. In: van Toller S, Dodd GH (eds) Perfumery: the psychology and biology of fragrance. Chapman & Hall, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Herz RS, Beland SL, Hellerstein M (2004a) Changing odor hedonic perception through emotional associations in humans. Int J Comp Psychol 17:315–339Google Scholar
- Proust M (1928) Swann’s way. Modern Library, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Raudenbush B, Corley N, Eppich W (2001) Enhancing athletic performance through the administration of peppermint odor. J Sports Exerc Psychol 23:156–160Google Scholar
- Raudenbush B, Grayhem R, Sears T, Wilson I (2009) Effects of peppermint and cinnamon odor administration on simulated driving alertness, mood and workload. N Am J Psychol 11:245–256Google Scholar
- Wilson DA, Stevenson RJ (2006) Learning to smell: olfactory perception from neurobiology to behavior. Johns Hopkins University Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
- Zucco GM (2012) The acquisition of odour preference via evaluative olfactory conditioning: historical background and state of the art. In: Zucco GM, Herz RS, Schall B (eds) Olfactory cognition: from perception and memory to environmental odours and neuroscience. John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam, pp 95–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar