Fragrant Careers? The olfactory presentation of self at the workplace

Individuals who want to be successful in today’s career landscape have to go beyond solid performance and strong results; personal branding is an increasingly important factor as well. Impression management plays a key role in today’s professional world, and one’s olfactory appearance is an integral part thereof. Which strategies and intentions one wants to achieve with personal scent, however, have only been researched casually, at best, so far.

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Thus, the leading German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, recently discussed the use of certain perfumes by representatives of a political youth organization. What message does a user of Tommy Hilfiger perfume want to convey? According to the FAZ this young politician wants to identify himself as a performance oriented achiever who spends his money on clothes that are distinctly designed for this social group.

This research project, conducted by Lucas Heusser, explores olfactory impression in greater depth and analyzes how fragrance in today’s work environment is being used and experienced. The research follows a qualitative design. It includes the introspection of 12 – 15 selected individuals who will subsequently be interviewed about their experiences. The goal of this study is to build a typology of individual olfactory strategies in the professional career environment. The results will be submitted in part fulfillment of the degree of the Master in Business Administration at Bern University of Applied Sciences.