Hit Habit Forecast: +the power of fragrance

Mar. 2, 2021
  • Viewpoints

Hit Habit Forecast is a regular column of the Hit Habit Makers, a group of young planners at Hakuhodo HQ that gamely stood up to say they were going to create hit habits—not hit products—as consumption shifts from purchasing things to purchasing experiences. Analyzing social media accounts and purchasing data of highly sophisticated users and conducting analysis on popular articles, etc. in a variety of media that have their fingers on the pulse of social trends, this is the bold, new challenge of forecasting hit habits that are about to break.


Hello. I’m Daichi Nagai of the Hit Habit Makers.

How are you all doing? As the uncertain stay-at-home life continues, I’m sure some of you will be refraining from going out all day, even on sunny days. I know I am. Each day, I pass the time at home hard at work from my home office, feeling stressed at times.

Therefore, I’d like to introduce you to the topic of this article: “+the power of fragrance.” As fears about overwork from teleworking and COVID stress from staying at home grow, +the power of fragrance is about trying to make life less stressful and more enjoyable by adding fragrance to your daily life.

To get started, let’s have a look at the Good Trends graph below. We see that searches for “fureguransu” (fragrance) had been growing slowly for years, but interest has grown even more since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: Google Trends (searches for “fureguransu” (fragrance))

I, too, have been into cult fragrances for a few years and am exploring how to live as stress-free as possible by introducing the power of fragrance in my life. Today, I’d like to introduce some “fragrance hacks” I discovered observing the behaviors of sei-katsu-sha—Hakuhodo’s term for the holistic person—habits that you could implement right now.

First is shower time +the power of fragrance.

This involves spraying fragrance sprays intended for use in rooms into the bathroom while the shower is running to enjoy your shower or bath time enveloped in fragrance. When I tried this at home, it felt like the fragrance was several times stronger, and I was veiled in an immense sense of happiness. This is quick and easy way to refresh your spirit, so I recommend it for busy people who don’t have time to luxuriate in the tub.

Second is washing your hands +the power of fragrance.

When I asked people around me their stories about fragrance, one friend said she’d used the effects of fragrance to make hand-washing into a habit for their child. As a means of preventing infection, washing our hands has become even more important lately, but I think for families with young children, it would have been difficult to instill proper hand-washing in their kids as a habit. When my friend bit the bullet and changed the hand soap she’d been using, splurging on a slightly bougie one (4,000–5,000 yen for 500 ml) that leaves a nice fragrance, she found that her son started washing his hands properly. What happened, I think, is that where once washing his hands had been a chore to eradicate an invisible virus, it became a way for him to surrounding themself in a nice scent, which changed his perception of hand-washing and spurred him to make it a habit.

The last example I’d like to introduce is masks +the power of fragrance.

This literally means putting fragrance on face masks. Masks have become de rigueur thanks to the pandemic, but problems, like the stress of wearing masks for extended periods and smells inside the mask, have become apparent. And just like that, sprays for masks that not only disinfect and deodorize but also have fragrant effects suddenly come onto the scene. While exploring similar things on social media, I found a pro who uses edible yuzu (Japanese citron), not a special spray. They had learned this from their grandmother, who lives in the country. Apparently she scents unused surgical masks by wrapping them around yuzu and other aromatic fruits. It’s just the sort of wisdom you expect from a grandmother.

Now that we’ve looked at a few examples of adding the power of fragrance, why is the trend accelerating today?

One reason, I believe, is that fragrance is the most instinctive mental health solution for COVID stress. Stimulating the sense of smell is said to hit the brain faster than stimulating the sight and hearing, and it appeals to the emotions primitively. I think this is because, bombarded with masses of information every day, the brain is over used these days and we tend to prefer right-brain things that can be judged without thinking.

Perhaps another reason is because fragrance can be enjoyed without changing our everyday routines. For the same reason that consuming sound media while doing other things is in the spotlight, it is increasingly difficult for busy sei-katsu-sha to spur new actions in the small windows of time they have between doing other things. However, because scents and smells, like sounds, can still be taken in by the brain and easily tied to everyday routines, they are accepted by sei-katsu-sha.

Lastly, I thought a bit about business opportunities offered by +the power of fragrance.

Examples of +the power of fragrance business opportunities
■ Adding fragrance (healing and refreshing effects) to the experience of your products and services
■ Developing an app that works with an IoT healthcare gadget to recommend the optimal fragrance for your health condition
■ 4D meditation with scent, background music and virtual reality, which creates the virtual experience of a healing space right at home
And so on.

As I wrote above, I am cultivating the power of fragrance as an antidote to the vexations of everyday life. Besides researching it for my own mental health, I would love to be able to utilize what I learn in my everyday work for clients.


Daichi Nagai
Member of the Hit Habit Makers
Integrated Planning & Creative Division
Hakuhodo Inc. / Hokkaido Hakuhodo Inc.
Daichi Nagai joined Hokkaido Hakuhodo in 2018, and was seconded to the Integrated Planning & Creative Division at Hakuhodo Inc. in 2020. He has been involved in marketing work since joining the company. You’d normally find him roaming some town or other each night, hunting for insights into future lifestyles, from the underground to the mainstream, but he is currently self-isolating.
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