Firms in Appeal to Consumers' Nose

      June 01, 2006 20:14

      More and more inanimate objects on our store shelves follow the example of the animal and vegetable kingdom and use scent to compete for takers. At the extreme end of the scale is Kumho Tire, which released scented tires in May.

      Called ECSTA DX Aroma, they are made from rubber mixed with scented oils that enables them to give off a scent for more than a year even under hot conditions or high pressure. "We developed the product to provide a fresh stimulus to modern consumers who are constantly assaulted by smells from all sorts of chemicals and pollution," the firm says.

      The White Chocolate Phone released by LG Electronics in February gives off a lavender smell from its scented keypad when it is in use. Samsung Electronics is reportedly soon to release a phone that alerts the owner of incoming calls by giving off a certain scent.

      Clockwise from left, LG Household and Health Care's Essen Natural fabric softener, Kumho Tire's ECSTA DX Aroma, Intarsia's sleep socks and LG Electronics' White Chocolate Phone.

      But there can be practical advantages. Underwear maker Intarsia recently obtained a patent for "Functional Sleep Socks" whose embedded microcapsules emit a green tea scent to minimize discomfort for their wearers' nearest and dearest. The company says far-infrared rays inside the socks warm the wearer's feet, while the scent and antibacterial agents battle the attendant odors.

      LG Household and Health Care has recently released the Essen Natural fabric softener, which kills two birds with one stone by having an air freshener built into the cap. The company says the gimmick creates a pleasant smell in the laundry room and can also be removed and put somewhere else.

      Johnson, meanwhile, blazed a trail by advertising its Glade air freshener with signs that smelled of -- you guessed it. At city bus stops, scent samples were stuck to the ads so people could smell the product as they walked by. The company threatens to do the same again when it releases its Crystal Romance product containing three scents.

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