The world has long been accustomed to aromatic perfumes and redolent household products. Get ready for environmental scenting, as businesses from hotels to the local dentist's office dabble in airborne bouquets.
The hitch: Fragrance is highly personal, with cola the only smell to travel well across all cultures.
Further, there's the issue of allergies, a concern heightened by anti-fragrance activists such as Louise Kostra, a member of the Atlanta-based Human Ecology Action League's Public Information Committee.
Ms. Kostra deems chemically compounded fragrance to be superfluous and as an air pollutant she considers it to be as objectionable as exhaust fumes.
Still in London's Piccadilly, the Daniele Ryman Ltd. aromatherapy shop already has made Ms. Ryman a fragrant air supplier to private homes, retailers and, soon perhaps, airlines. Passengers on many carriers, such
as those flying on British Airways' Club Class, already are plied with her aromatherapy skin treatment kits.
In Minneapolis, Aroma-Sys President Mark Peltier has already gone the
next step. He sells environmental fragrancing systems that work independently or through ventilation systems to a number of businesses, including Thomasville Furniture Industries stores.
The allure: a growing belief the often-ignored sense of smell holds
promise for businesses seeking to enhance air quality and ambience and improve worker productivity. Or induce consumers to relax and spend.
Thomas E. Virtue, president of Rye, N.Y.-based fragrance consultancy the Virtue Group, even sees a day when fragrancing systems will be, "much
like heating or air conditioning, a standard feature" of homes and businesses.
The concept comes as the fragrance industry faces both declining use of personal fragrances and anti-fragrance zealots, seeking the same restrictions on scenting that there are now on smoking.
So far anti-fragrance crusaders have focused on the $5 billion men's and women's fragrance industry, though they also scorn scented shampoos,
soaps, tissues-virtually any artificially scented product.
One high-ranking fragrance executive at a major marketer said a recent proprietary study showed as of 1992, 84% of all women used a fragrance regularly but by 1994 "that number had dropped dramatically to 79%. The dropoff was highest among consumers age 20-44, probably because of the grunge generation and financially strapped young families."
The good news was teen-agers showed no decline, and Calvin Klein Cosmetic Co.'s gender bending CK One attracted a lot of first-time consumers, pa