This Montréal startup connects aromas and emotions
Stimulation Déjà Vu is a Montréal startup that will grab you by the nose. The scent-based company develops ‘smell experiences’ and signature fragrances for a wide range of client needs. Much more than a perfumier, Stimulation Déjà Vu actively links aroma with emotions and places education as a central part of their offering.
So, how exactly does Stimulation Déjà Vu benefit events? One simple way is to have them develop an on-brand signature fragrance (i.e. a smell for your event). But that’s just scratching the surface. They can also facilitate workshops on scent creation or present on the link between scent strategies and cognitive science.
We chatted with the founder of Stimulation Déjà Vu, Audrey Bernard, about how the company creates sense experiences, the iconic aromas of Montréal, and more.
Tourisme Montréal: We have five senses—why does scent specifically play such an important role for Stimulation Déjà Vu?
Audrey Bernard: First of all, Deja Vu Stimulation assumes that there are external senses and internal senses. We are interested in the internal senses and their relationship with memory, which is at the core of our approach. ‘Olfactory memory’ — the recollection of odors — is directly connected to our emotions. This nose-heart connection guides us in the development of experiences to bring to life and relive emotions. And when we add other senses to our approach, we can have even more impact on the feelings of the participant.
How exactly do you go about recreating these aromas? (We’re picturing you in a white lab coat, a Bunsen burner, and the occasional explosion… is that accurate?)
Yes, absolutely! Our creative process is technical — involving precise measurements and science. We wear white during some biometric measurement sessions and handling of raw materials... but this is only part of our job! We visit each destination and search for sensory themes. We incorporate anthropological interpretation, research and analysis, as well as the creation of experience for our clients in different forms.
What do you think are the most iconic aromas of Montréal?
Definitely the smell of urban winter. Through our research, this olfactory theme is as striking for the local Montrealer as for the visitor. A reference to nature with the scent of the Saint-Laurent River and Mount Royal Park, combined with the dry and metallic aspect of the cold concrete of downtown… this all adds up to a unique ‘Montréal’ aroma memory.
You’ve had the opportunity to participate in the MTLab cohort. What has that experience been like?
The strongest aspect of MTLab is the connections. MTLab has unparalleled network strength. From the discovery of the tourism sector to the opening of our subsidiary in France, I can confirm that the connections and the strength of the network of this incubator played a major role for Stimulation Déjà Vu.
How did the events of 2020 shift your business?
Creativity is something we have always done. At the start of the crisis, we made a decision to continue and maintain our offering. We worked together to develop an experiential health product that stood out for its olfactory and sensory aspect. I would say it has been a 45-degree pivot, one that's now part of the complementary products we offer. In short, we managed to maintain our mission and vision while adapting to the current crisis.
What are some of your favourite event venues in Montréal—and why?
The Palais des congrès de Montréal [Montréal’s convention centre]. The congress environment has had to renew itself, and the arrival of Robert Mercure refreshed the sector with strong potential for innovation. He onboarded us with his mission of renewal, and the entire Palais team is mobilized in this vision of change. This place is and will become a centre for innovation… and we are proud to participate!