Non-Verbal Olfactory Communication in Latino Culture {Fragrant Reading}

Latino-Scents.jpgAn interesting article about non-verbal cues and in particular olfactory ones exchanged in Latino interactions according to a dad and marketing specialist who relates his personal observations. Sometimes smell counts more than the functionality of a cleaning product like Fabuloso because much more importantly the scent is used to convey a set of meanings to members of the family and community. What Ricardo A Lopez. doesn't say here but which transpires from his notes is that the olfactory onus is very much on women and seems to be part of general machismo values: proving repeatedly through certain perfumes that as a good mother and wife you are taking good care of your baby, of your family....

"Okay, I think we can agree that if a person reeks with body odor, the smell will undoubtedly affect his or her personal interactions! But BO aside, odor is used extensively by Latinos in communicating. Many Hispanics use perfume or cologne to convey their personality; an the smell of a particular brand of perfume becomes a part of who they are. Sometimes the smell is used to convey how much they care about their family. When my daughter Marina came home my mother was at our house with a basket of goodies. Among them was a bottle of "Violet Water," a cologne that Cubans like to use on babies. My mother explained to my wife (who is not Hispanic) how good it was to use this fragrance because it conveys that you care about your baby. Latinos also use fragrances in other areas to communicate something about them. Colgate Palmolive, for example, has a very successful line of cleaning products called Fabuloso. Most Latinas know that Fabuloso is not a very good cleaner; but they also agree that cleaning is not the main purpose of that product. They buy it because in the Latino culture the smell of products like Fabuloso is extremely important in conveying how a woman takes care of her house and her family. The same holds true for the laundry products they use. The clothing needs to have a particular fragrance. Undoubtedly, the sense of smell is very much a part of the Latino communication process."

Read more in Latino Opinion...

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2 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. But of course, we scent fans are well aware of using perfume to communicate, no? :)

    And in the cultural references/taking care of your children vein...

    ...I recall that just a few years ago, here in the U.S., Fabuloso and a few other products like it were asked to change their packaging--because to children, it looked too much like a sweet beverage.


    • Yes, I agree although personally I tend to have a more contemplative attitude towards perfume, probably also due to my reviewing activities. It's more me / the perfume than me + the perfume / others :)

      Oh, that's interesting, thanks for this information.

      Chant Wagner

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