Keith Kelsen’s The Scent Narrative: Scent as a Behavior Media

Clearly our senses are our link to the world. As one looks at the media in the world, one realizes that all media affects our psyche. Those links can shape our mood, our perceptions, our memories, even our reactions. Media today, delivered via broadcast or web, utilizes only some of our senses. Daily, we utilize all five of our senses, touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing. That may be an obvious statement, but consider this…Media has played a role in society’s behavior for decades. Our culture and technology has allowed media to be pervasive; yet it has at best only impacted our ears and eyes.

We have promoted the audio narrative since the recording of and broadcast of sound. What would life be without radio, recorded music, podcasts, Spotify™, or XM radio™? It is pervasive in our society as much as any other commodity. Recorded music sales totaled over $15 billion last year. For the first time, the industry derived the same pro- portion of revenues from digital channels (46%) as physical format sales (46%).

The visual narrative is even more powerful and subtle than we could have ever imagined, it has shaped our culture in what we wear, how we walk and where we like to go. Our world is even becoming more visual – with over 3 billion images shared per day on the web. And in recent times, it is the digital stage in which Millennials live their lives on and for.

Millennials Spend 18 Hours a Day Consuming Media ‐‐ And It’s Mostly Content Created By Peers. 88% of Millennials get news from Facebook at least occasionally, 83%from YouTube, and50% from Instagram. Millennials also report getting news from Pinterest (36 percent), Twitter (33%), Reddit (23%), and Tumblr (21%)And while these numbers are smaller, they represent quite large percentages of those who use these social media platforms at all. Visually we take our cues from advertising, art and events.

The Visual Narrative is emotionally impactful. It can make us laugh, cry or even be mad. It’s by far the most communicated narrative we have in our culture today. Film references even social norms come from Television, Movies and all other forms of visual media.

Yet, there’s another sense that’s even more powerful and more memorable. It’s the sense of smell, which sits in the emotional center of the brain. This is the portion of the brain that records smell and is in the limbic lobe, the center part of the brain that also controls our emotions. No other content resides in this center and none is more memorable than smell.

Why is this positioned in an area that we will not soon forget? This happens because the thalamus sends smell information to the hippocampus and amygdala, key brain regions involved in learning and memory. The olfactory bulb is one of the structures of the limbic system and a very ancient part of the brain. The information captured by the sense of smell goes from the olfactory bulb to other structures of the limbic system. In other words, scent is “unforgettable”! Beyond science, take a moment and reflect for yourself. Scent can bring back a feeling, a memory even an experience with someone or something long gone.

You see, the limbic system is a network of connected structures near the middle of the brain linked within the central nervous system. This network works together to affect a wide range of behaviors including emotions, motivation, and memory. This system deals with instinctive or automatic behaviors, and has little, if anything, to do with conscious thought or will. That is a powerful combination!

Scent as Behavior Media is based on extensive studies. Motivational forces for behavior come from the limbic system which is concerned with translating sensory data from the neo‐ cortex (the thinking brain) into behavior. The limbic system is centrally involved in the mediation between a person’s recognition of an event, their perception of it, and the resulting physiological reaction to it, mediated via the endocrine system. Again as a media, scent can impact our behavior as nothing else can!

Scent drives an emotional response that is sometimes unexpected and personal. In previous blogs I’ve talked about how scent affects success, love and even how you drive. The cortex region processes the Stimuli conceptually and passes it to the limbic system where they are evaluated. That’s when a motivational response is formulated. The quickest way to change motivation emotions and involuntary responses is with scent.

How vast is this opportunity? The average person can detect at least 10 billion different smells according to Leslie Vosshall, a scientist who studies olfaction at Rockefeller University. This is more than visual content acuity at only 16 million colors or audio acuity at 500,000 tones.

Behavioral Media is possible when scent is used as content. If it can be deployed the way visual and audio media has been deployed for the last century, we can have a new experience! As a society we have tracked fragrances, and personalization of perfumes that give us pleasure and even each of us have a personal scent. In fact, the fragrance industry is now over $39,000,000,000.

Scent is Behavior Media on location. Studies have shown that a scented environment leads to consumers staying longer, and spending more. A study of Las Vegas slot players showed they spent 45% more in a scented environment than those in an unscented one.

Historically, technology has driven the audio and visual narratives giving the plat- form for amazing content. There is a natural progression proving that the scent narrative is just beginning. We are precipice of understanding how new connected scent technology will begin a new evolution; scent is now content. Behavioral Media is on the way.

The Internet of Things (IoT) connects content and technology to personal experiences and conveniences. The Internet of Scent (IoS), is a new category and technology that’ s starting to drive connected devices in the marketplace. IoS is technology driven connected devices that emit scent, from large spaces to automobiles, to gaming and

entertainment. This long-pursued area is now technologically able to deliver new amazing experiences that are scent driven. Using scent as content will change the emotional state of the average person in ways that they may not even realize.

Content that brings us back to a memorable moment in our lives that will make us laugh, feel comfort, sadden our day, or brighten our lives with joy, even heal us. After all, what is life without stopping to smell the rose content?

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