Sep 2011

Kiwis Turn Noses Up at Smell of Rugby Survey

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Kiwis Turn Noses Up at Smell of Rugby Study: a new survey has identified the scent Kiwi’s would most like to be identified with.


As the nation tackles one of our biggest sporting events of the decade, we’d like tourists to remember the country for its holiday sea air – not the smell of a wet rugby field, according to a new survey.

The Ambi Pur Air Effects survey investigated Kiwi attitudes towards New Zealand smells and asked respondents to describe what scent best represents Aotearoa.

More than half of those interviewed (53%) said the smell that best epitomises New Zealand as a nation is the smell of sea air from the holiday bach. Despite our passion for the national game only 4% of those polled thought the smell of a wet rugby field was a suitable national scent.

The research also showed that Kiwis are proud of our agricultural heritage and the performance of our dairy, beef and sheep products internationally with nearly one fifth (19%) of respondents saying the smell of a sheep or dairy farm best represents us as a nation.

While Friday night fish’n chips has long been held a Kiwi tradition, just under a sixth (15%) of those surveyed thought it characterized us as a country and the smell of a traditional hangi cooking was just behind at 10%.

When it came to New Zealand’s worst smell, rubbish dumps, freezing works and fish markets were most disliked by Kiwis. Near half (49%) of us said that rubbish dumps were our worst national smell, followed by meat/freezing works (28%), fish markets (13%) and lastly Rotorua’s sulphur rich geysers and hot pools at 10%.


Rubbish was also one of the most disliked smells when it came to Kiwi homes with 42% saying it smelt worse than toilet smells (32%), burnt food (12%), pets (7%) or fish cooking (7%).

The old adage that nothing beats the smell of mum’s cooking also rang true with nearly half (47%) of those surveyed saying that it was the one thing that most reminded them of home followed by a wood-fire burning (27%). More than a quarter (26%) of respondents said a barbecue cooking reminded them of the smell of home.

Psychologist Sara Chatwin says while New Zealanders tend to define themselves by sport and their outside activity, we are also a nation surrounded by ocean.

“We often spend our summer breaks at seaside locations making the most of our great beaches! I think the smell of the sea and beaches remind us of ‘summer fun’ where as scents associated with rugby remind us of cold winters and dreary weather,” Chatwin says.

Almost all of the respondents said it was important to have a nice smelling home (96%), with only one percent of females saying this wasn’t the case compared to six percent of males.

Nine out of ten of all those surveyed said that smells affect their mood, with females more likely to agree with this (94%) than males (87%).

More than three quarters (76%) of New Zealanders polled said they used air freshening products in their homes with more females doing so (80%) compared to males (72%).

When it came to their favourite scent, more than a third of Kiwis (34%) preferred vanilla, this was followed by spring flowers and lavender, both at a fifth of respondents, and citrus was preferred by 18%.

Chatwin says vanilla is a longstanding fragrance favourite which is popular due to its refreshing yet calming qualities.

“Research has often pointed out the linkages between the scent of vanilla and our early and positive memories of our mothers’ milk nurturing us,” Chatwin says.


“Scent can be a pick me up and can also be associated with things that were positives in our past. Sometimes people like a scent because it is associated with people, an event or an experience that brought us great joy,” she says.

Most New Zealanders aged 65 and over had a preference for lavender and spring flowers with 57% choosing those scents as their preferred fragrances.

The research was conducted as part of the launch of the new Ambi Pur Breathe Happy advertising campaign, which airs this week. The television commercial involves surprising the senses of real people in a series of extreme odour experiments to prove to Kiwis that Ambi Pur air fresheners can transform the air.

Ambi Pur Air Effects uses innovative technology which interacts with and eliminates odour molecules in the air, at the same time, delivering a fresh mist of fine perfume. These scents are designed by the team behind some of the world’s most successful perfume houses including Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Hugo Boss.

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Fleur Revell
Fleur Revell is one of the country’s most eminent PR consultants and public relations practitioners with more than 20 years industry experience behind her. Fleur is also a three times Qantas Media Awards winner and Feature Writer of the Year; and has an exceptional working knowledge of the New Zealand media landscape and its accelerating evolution in the digital age.
Kiwis Turn Noses Up at Smell of Rugby Survey
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