Consumer & Behavioral Science Consulting
Man Soap and Manly Smells (link)
So apparently a manly soap smells like bacon, bonfires, beer and/or urinal cakes…
Wait, what? Who would want to smell like a urinal cake?
“Available scents include bacon, baseball glove, brewed coffee, muscle rub, fresh-cut grass, and top soil. Democrat and Republican scents are also on offer.”
And all for only $7.95 a bar!
Here’s an interesting study for you: Population genetic segmentation of MHC-correlated perfume preferences
This study was curious as to whether there were genetic influences behind perfume preferences and whether there were any genetic markers for these preferences. And the research suggests that maybe that’s true. But what struck me was the finding about context…
“…preference patterns of participants confronted with images that contained a sexual communication context significantly differed in their ratings for some of the scents compared with participants confronted with images of perfume bottles.”
So context was everything, really. And while the implication from the study was the scent preferences were ultimately driven by sexual drives… I’m seeing the importance of context. And so what do these soaps give us for context?
The scents used are strong. And make for strong memory connections… the smell of freshly cut grass… bacon… beer… urinal cakes.
We like the familiar.
According to the article in the Economist: The Scent of a Man,
“Men can be sold “deodorant” and possibly “aftershave”, but the idea of all those dinky little bottles with their fussy paraphernalia is too much for the sensitive male ego.”
The article discusses Craig Roberts and team of the University of Liverpool who assert that when a man changes his natural body odor it can alter his self-confidence to such an extent that it also changes how attractive women find him.
And that’s why we wear perfume right? I mean, that’s why we wear the little black dress or too high heels… we believe we look good, so we feel good, which makes us more confident which is attractive. Makes sense.
“Half of Dr Roberts’s volunteers were given an aerosol spray containing a commercial formulation of fragrance and antimicrobial agents. The other half were given a spray identical in appearance but lacking active ingredients. The study was arranged so that the researchers did not know who had received the scent and who the dummy. Each participant obviously knew what he was spraying on himself, since he could smell it. But since no one was told the true purpose of the experiment, those who got the dummy did not realise they were being matched against people with a properly smelly aerosol.”
After days of tests and evaluations of both groups, the researchers found that the group given the commercial scent had an increase in self confidence. Duh.
But the great part was that this self confidence could be observed by women who could not smell the men… they saw the change without the smell. Further… it wasn’t by appearance, but how they presented in motion, in gait. The women could not distinguish the groups in still photos, only in silent video, identifying the men who wore scent.
“There are three broad theories of perfume use. One is that people employ it to mask body odours that they perceive as bad. The second is that some perfumes contain chemicals that mimic human pheromones—elusive, mysterious (and possibly mythical) substances believed by some to play a role in mating. The third is that people use it to heighten or fortify natural scent, and thus advertise sexual attractiveness or availability.”
And this last point brings us back the our genes and how they may have an impact on our fragrance preferences. We can recognize our family and close friends according to odor. We can recognize our sexual gender preferences by odor. And so we can probably recognize our preferred genetic make up by odor.
“As long ago as the 1950s, a perfumer called Paul Jellinek noted that several ingredients of incense resembled scents of the human body. It was not until 2001, however, that Manfred Milinski and Claus Wedekind of the University of Bern wondered whether there was a correlation between the perfume a woman preferred and her own natural scent. They found that there is.
The correlation is with the genes of what is known as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). This region of the genome encodes part of the immune system. It turns out that one of the most important aspects of mate choice in mammals, humans included, is to make sure that your mate’s MHC is different from your own. Mixing up MHCs makes the immune system more effective. The MHC is also thought to act as a proxy for general outbreeding, with all the hybrid vigour that can bring. Fortunately, then, evolution has equipped mammals with the ability to detect by smell chemicals whose concentrations vary with differences in the MHC of the producer.”
AKA, we can recognize potential partners.
“Women, it seems, choose not the kind of smell they would like on a partner, or even one that might mask a nasty odour of their own, but rather something that matches their MHC. In other words, they are advertising their own scent.”
So in the end… scientists suggest that you choose your fragrance that suits you, not someone else to get the maximum benefit.
Which brings us back to the question… why urinal cake?
What does urinal cake say about you?
Like in the Old Spice commercial: