A whiff of lavender carries me to a relaxing spa where I first got a facial, while the Chinese feng you jing oil takes me back on a winding drive up to Genting.
Distinct scents can transport me to an exact moment where I first encountered it. The sense of smell is said to be the most influential in triggering memories among the five human senses.
Sensory Hub is capitalising off this emotional trigger. While most businesses use mediums like audio or visuals to capture audiences’ attention, the company is making bespoke scents for brands.
Not Letting The Nose Run
Jayden Lee, who founded the company in 2014, feels there’s a gap in how businesses approach branding. Most advertise by appealing to an audience’s eyes and ears, making him wonder, what about our noses?
He chimed, “It’s equally as important compared to the other senses! Thus, we saw an opportunity in this market as it creates value for many brands, hotels, car showrooms, property sales galleries, entertainment venues, among others.”
When I came across this business, it reminded me of a marketing initiative by UK’s Febreeze. It launched some scents for brands, from KFC candles to Burger King perfumes.
Sensory Hub, however, was not based on this idea. Jayden shared that scent marketing has actually been around for a long time.
Think about Cinnabon releasing its sweet smells of cinnamon buns glazed with sugar syrup. It’s SOP for their franchises to put their ovens near the front of its stores where buns are baked every 30 minutes.
Some stores even heat additional sheets of brown sugar and cinnamon to keep the aroma in the air.
Five-star hotels use scent marketing through diffusers in their lobbies and toilets too. The luxurious and welcoming scent is usually enough to put guests in a relaxed state.
Where I think Sensory Hub stands out however, is in how they’re able to design bespoke scents for individual brands.
A Branding Perfumer
Their bespoke creations are made by an outsourced perfumer in France who uses a mix of raw materials and natural essential oils.
This process can take 2-3 months upon understanding a brand’s message compiled by the local team.
The Sensory Hub team will first visit a business to get a grasp of its store’s ambience, design, furniture, colours, etc. Samples are curated for feedback which will then go through modifications until clients are satisfied.
It’s not too hard to create unique scents even for clients in the same industry either. Jayden shared that each brand generally has a distinct marketing message to convey.
“For example, Brand A might want calming scents for their agitated customers, whereas Brand B would want an energetic scent to stimulate their customers instead,” he explained.
Once the curation is complete, the aroma oil is installed in the building’s vents and diffused through air conditioning ducts. Diffuser systems can cover spaces as small as an elevator or as large as a shopping mall.
The scents can last up to a month before they need to be replenished and serviced by the team. In total, the diffusing systems and oils can cost from RM100/month to RM4,000/month depending on the size of the space.
A Home That Smells Like A Hotel
They’ve so far serviced a wide range of clientele across multiple industries, such as Zouk, Hong Leong Bank, Mah Sing Properties, Jaya Grocer and Lexus showrooms.
As most of their customers are B2B, the business saw a dip during the MCO. They were, however, still able to service 30% of their clients in the essential services.
“We managed to cover the revenue with our hygiene department as we saw a surge in demand for hygiene products and services such as toilet papers, sanitisers and disinfection services,” said Jayden.
The scenting company is currently in the works of launching a mini version of their diffusers that can cater to the B2C segment. These products will come in the form of air fresheners for one’s home or car.
This idea was born out of feedback from customers who were so fond of their scents in showrooms that they wanted it in their homes too.
Jayden joked, “After all, who wouldn’t want their home smelling like a five-star hotel?”
Featured Image Credit: Jayden Lee, founder of Sensory Hub