One of Abercrombie’s signature scents is called Fierce, and its bottle prominently displays a mysteriously disembodied torso of a svelte warrior. In keeping with this aggressive vibe, researchers at Concordia University in Canada have found that Abercrombie’s liberally sprayed store scent gives shoppers anxiety.
Kim Bhasin at the Huffington Post spoke to professor Bianca Grohmann about how store scents affect human anxiety. The researchers created a binary of “open” smells (the seashore; cucumber; apple fields) and “enclosed” scents (buttered popcorn; firewood). They found that as long as the scent complemented the space, it would curb anxiety. In an empty, spacious store, enclosed smells comforted the shoppers, whereas these smells would increase anxiety in cramped, dark stores. The researchers suggested that Abercrombie’s scents — all musk and masculine synthetic armpit — would further increase the sense of being trapped and claustrophobic.
Last week, Abercrombie announced it would curb its store fumes by 25 percent. But you can’t put a percentage on anxiety, can you?