Bianca Grohmann, a professor at Concordia University's John Molson School of Business, recently looked at the link between scents and shoppers. The Huffington Post reports that Grohmann and her co-researchers studied three groups of subjects in simulated store environments. The first participants were given aromas that indicate an enclosed space, such as buttered popcorn and burning firewood. A different group was exposed to "open space" scents, like the beach and green apples. The last subjects did not receive any particular smells. The participants hit the racks, and Grohmann and Co. checked each person's anxiety level.
The researchers found that the most calming combinations were enclosed-space odors in emptier showrooms and open-space aromas in cluttered storefronts. The findings partly explain why protestors, like Teens Turning Green, get super-stressed about the stank. (There are other reasons, too. As The Cut reported, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics once said Fierce contains 11 secret, unlisted chemicals, some of which cause asthma, headaches, contact dermatitis, and wheezing, and one that could damage reproductive hormones in males — the irony!)
Grohmann told HuffPost that in lieu of tinkering with the intensity, A&F could reconsider the smell they spray onto the masses. "A scent reminiscent of wide, open spaces could help reduce anxiety for a lot of people." Or, keep dousing the folks with Fierce, but rename it Sobbing in the Fetal Position.