January 26, 2005 Its called Olfactory Marketing and started back in the 1980s when British supermarkets discovered that if they had a bakery in a supermarket, the smell of fresh baking bread helped them sell not just more bread, but more of everything else too. French car maker, Citroen, is now set to follow the bakers with the launch of the Citroen C4, offering as standard a scent-diffuser in the ventilation system and a range of nine different scents. The success of Olfactory Marketing and Citroen's decision to make it a feature of the C4 is based on the fact that smells can have a significant effect on mood and sense of well being and their effect is usually very subtle. As well as providing a very pleasant environment for users of the C4, the perfumes also have ability to inspire an environment that is conducive to safe driving.
Until Citroen's innovation, the smells normally associated with cars were limited to that elusive 'new car smell', the aroma of leather and the blend of smells associated with a well used second hand car!
"The sense of smell has, at best, been ignored and more frequently negated by car makers," says Oliver Lehmann, the marketing project leader for the C4 Perfume diffuser programme. "The usual idea is to prevent any odours coming through the interior and yet sales of car air fresheners are booming. We were determined to address this paradox in the Citroen C4 and to do it with superior quality and a price that made it a creditable alternative to conventional after-market air-fresheners."
Citroen test marketed the idea of perfume diffuser kit with a special edition Citroen C3 in 2003, the C3 Buddha Bar, which offered five difference fragrances based on the theme of Feng Shui. Not only did the demand for this special edition exceed all expectations, it was clear that the main attraction of the C3 Buddha Bar was its perfume pack, which became an aftermarket accessory for the Citroen range.
"It was immediately clear that the perfume diffuser was a product that was out of the ordinary, with strong innovative potential," explains Oliver Lehmann. "Working on a ten month time frame, we had to go where Citroen had never been before, to developed a perfume diffuser and establish our credibility in the design and development of automotive perfumes."
While Citroen designed and developed the distribution process for the perfume, it called in experts to design the smells themselves.
"A product of this type is always complex," says Gregory Magert, Managing Director of Parfum d'image, the company tasked with find the right smells for the Citroen C4. "The composition of each perfume uses between 20 and 50 raw materials and its production requires input from dozens of suppliers around the world."
Citroen contacted Parfum d'image in late 2002, having already designed the diffuser system. Their job was to come back with fragrances that reflected the image of Citroen, which would appeal to customers and which would provide a beneficial driving environment.
"We developed nine fragrances that are in our terms very high specification, but which are also easily and quickly accessible in the driving environment of the Citroen C4," says Mr Magert. "These fragrances represent pleasure and well being. With the fragrances developed, we then worked with Citroen on the practical aspect of ensuring even and quick diffusion within the C4. Finally we worked on the packaging of not just the fragrances that are delivered with the new car, but also the refills available from Citroen dealers."
In total there are nine different fragrances available for the new Citroen C4, split into three groups: Vitality: mint and musk; jasmine and mimosa; citrus and passion. Travel: vanilla; cinnamon and ginger; amber and sandalwood. Well-being: lotus flower; soft lavender; ylang and bamboo.
But it was not just Citroen that had to develop new systems and processes for its entry into the perfume and fragrance market. Its dealers are also being trained!
Each new Citroen C4 is delivered with a kit of three refills, one from each group, which is enough to last for around six months of normal use. At the six-month anniversary of the purchase of the Citroen C4, owners will be invited via a letter scented with a fragrance, Cinnamon and Ginger, not issued with the C4, to return to their Citroen dealer for refills.
Here they will find a special display counter holding 108 scent cartridges, brochures and scratch and sniff tabs that will allow C4 owners to take samples home before buying refills.
"Citroen's decision to launch the perfume diffuser with the C4 was a strategic decision that we knew would provide customer benefits and being customers to our dealerships," says Oliver Lehmann. "Now that the C4 is on sale it is clear that this innovative programme is, indeed, introducing new customers to Citroen as well as bringing them to our dealers' parts departments. The programme clearly has the sweet smell of success!"
The new Citroen C4 is an advanced automobile in many ways other than the olfactory system, and will introduce several major innovations in addition to its advanced aerodynamics. Both the Coupé and Hatchback have outstanding aerodynamics, with a drag coefficient of just 0.28 that will help keep fuel consumption and emissions right down.
Among the numerous innovations that the new C4 will bring to the class is a multi-functional fixed centred controls steering wheel, which offers easy access to the centrally-mounted controls. In addition, its unique design will enhance safety by allowing the housing of a specially designed airbag that offers greater protection to the driver.
The new Citroen C4 will also boast other advanced safety features, such as an involuntary lane-departure warning system, designed to help prevent drivers from losing concentration or falling asleep at the wheel, as well as moving, dual-function directional Xenon headlamps, which provide improved lighting when cornering.
Other equipment normally reserved for more expensive cars includes a speed limiter and tyre pressure warning system. On top of this, the new C4 is also set to be the only car in the class to offer laminated glass side windows, which will not only provide maximum protection against break-ins, but also enhance the acoustic comfort inside the cabin.
Drivers will further benefit from the unique, translucent instrument cluster that is able to adjust to ambient light, giving a clear read-out no matter what the light conditions.
Powering the new C4 will be a wide range of the Company's very latest petrol and HDi common rail diesel engines, most of which will meet Euro IV emission standards, offering a broad range of performance - from 90hp to 180hp for petrol and 92hp to 138hp for diesel.