Ambius reveals the favourite scents of Christmas for the home and hospitality environments


Whether it’s a sniff of cinnamon, the aroma of roast turkey or a hint of warm mince pies, everyone has their favourite smell to tell them that Christmas has arrived. With the festive season almost upon us, a new study commissioned by scenting experts Ambius, has uncovered the nation’s favourite seasonal smells. A study of over 2,000 Britons voted roast turkey as their favourite smell of Christmas (with 36% of the vote). This was closely followed by the pine fragrance from Christmas trees (30%), which was incidentally the top choice for females, cinnamon (27%) and mince pies (26%).

Smells of the season are clearly dear to us all, with 80% of respondents indicating that it is these familiar scents that help put them in a festive mood. Other popular aromas of Christmas include the scents of an open fire or wood burners, Christmas pudding and mulled wine or cider which we ranked joint 5th with (23%). Despite their presence at the Christmas table, respondents ranked brussel sprouts fairly low down the list in joint 17th spot (7%).


The 12 scents of Christmas


1.         Roast turkey (36%)

2.         Christmas trees (30%)

3.         Cinnamon (27%)

4.         Mince pies (26%)

5.         Open fire or wood burner (23%)

5.         Christmas pudding (23%)

5.         Mulled wine or cider (23%)

8.         Roast potatoes (21%)

9.         Gingerbread (14%)

10.       Pigs in blankets (13%)

10.       Roasted chestnuts (13%)

12.       Coffee (10%)


For those in the retail and hospitality sectors, scent emerged as a powerful tool to attract and retain. When asked if a familiar Christmas smell would encourage them to stay longer in a shop, pub or restaurant, half of respondents agreed it would. Younger generations appeared to be more influenced by familiar Christmas smells, with twice the amount of 25-34 year olds agreeing such scents would encourage them to stay longer than those 65 years and over (65% vs. 33%).

Familiar scents are one of the most effective triggers of memories, with past research suggesting that 75% of the emotions humans generate are affected by our sense of smell. Humans recall smells with 65% accuracy a year after smelling them, in contrast to 50% of visuals after just three months. And because no two people experience odours in the same way, scents are very personal to the person who smells them.

Gareth Cowmeadow, scenting specialist at Ambius, said: “Of the five senses, smell is the most powerful, with the ability to trigger emotions and memories of good times with friends and family. It’s interesting to see how impactful smells can be during the festive period, especially when there are so many other stimuli that can get us in Christmas spirit. Enhancing your home or store with a popular Christmas scent can not only get you in the Christmas mood but also, for the latter, help boost the chances of customers lingering for longer and hopefully making a purchase.”