It is apparent that the sense of smell can hardly be switched off at the workplace. Yet, business and management research has only recently started to explore its relevance. A number of research and transfer projects have been conducted at Bern University of Applied Sciences. And there is an upcoming forum to share and discuss this topic.

The common slogan “dress for success” underlines the wide-held view that what you wear matters in everyday life. It originates in Erving Goffman’s studies on the social world as a stage. Accordingly, individuals interact as performers. In the context of management and organization studies this mode of interaction has later been labeled as “impression management”. It is obvious that workplace attire is used to manage the impressions of others. Studies show that women are more interested in clothing and experience more “appearance labor” when compared to men.*

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.

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.