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May 28, 2017

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Companies look to scent marketing to build memories, boost revenue

Two percent is a Hong Kong-based teen clothing store. When you walk into the store, you will immediately breathe in a bubble-gum scent — which Fong describes as "juicy, girlish, sweet" — that circulates through a diffuser in the shop.

He recently lingered outside a 2 percent store to watch customers. He saw a teenage girl near the store entrance and overheard her saying, "Oh, that smell is 2 percent."

He took that comment as a successful sign in brand building. The clothing chain first hired him to work on two stores, sales increased and he now supplies the scent to all 35 stores in Hong Kong.

Negotiations with 2 percent are underway to supply 100 of their stores in mainland China.

Samsung recently put on several road shows to promote its new Galaxy S3 smartphone. Samsung says this new Android phone is "inspired by nature — it sees, listens, responds."

Its marketing agent asked Fong to create a special fragrance for several four-day road shows in Asia, a fragrance that embodied the image of nature.

"We were inspired by the new functions (of the phone) that related to natural behavior," Fong said. For example, the phone uses its frontal camera to follow the user's facial movements and the phone only goes into sleep mode when it knows the user is not looking at it. Because of contractual confidentiality, he couldn't tell me what fragrances he used for the Samsung scent but he did open the bespoke bottle and let me take a whiff.

To me, it smelled like a cologne with a little metallic twist — not so much "nature," but more "metal, gadget, male."

As Fong's creations are making cash for his young company, an international bank has asked Fong to create the "scent of money" for its offices in Hong Kong. He's playing with the idea of blending the bergamot, moss-like scent of chypre flowers with metal. "But I'm still thinking about that one," he says.

Pauline Chiou is a CNN anchor/correspondent based in Hong Kong. Follow Pauline on Twitter @PaulineCNN. For more business coverage, go to

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