Fragrance Trends for Household Products

November 8, 2005

Consumers want their household cleaning products not only to clean but to also make their homes smell exotic

Consumers want their household cleaning products not only
to clean but also to make their homes smell exotic

Fragrances, even those in household cleaning products, have the ability to conjure up memories: spring days remind consumers of a loved one, the smell of freshly cut grass reminds them of a ball field and the scent of pine reminds them of their mother’s clean kitchen. But increasingly the fragrances used in household cleaning products are being replaced with fragrances that remind consumers of exotic locales such as tropical rain forests and mountain streams.

Scents in household products are gaining utmost importance as consumers increasingly spend more time at home, either to entertain or work out of a home office. A recent survey showed that a home-based business is created every 11 seconds. Home offices are popular with consumers not only because of their convenience, but also because of the comfort level that they provide. Perfumers who spoke to Happi said that the growing trend of home offices is being noticed by household cleaners marketers as they develop new products.

Companies have tried for years to recreate a home-like atmosphere for their employees to encourage their happiness and high production levels, said Terri Brockmann, market research coordinator, Mane. “Cafeterias, sitting areas and employee lounges are just a few examples of this effort,” she said. “With a home office, it will be up to the individual to create his or her own enjoyable atmosphere.”

“As the home becomes the workplace of choice, consumers will want fragrances to calm them, help them concentrate and keep them working at their maximum efficiency,” said Virginia Bonofiglio, director of fragrance, TFF. “Fragrances will no longer simply mask malodors; they will become an integral part of the workplace and home is where the work is being done.”

The importance of the scent in the home increases when it is occupied day and night. “Fragrances that control odors emanating from kitchens, litter boxes and other sources of unpleasant odors will be desired as will fragrances that are conducive to creating a pleasant environment,” said Richard Cerniglia, vice president, head of perfumery, Flavor & Fragrance Specialties.

Home Office Fragrances
The biggest change prompted by the surge in home offices is the consumers’ ability to control the olfactory environment in which they work. As research is conducted on the mood and performance altering effects of fragrances, it is likely that there will be less emphasis on odor removing air fresheners and more emphasis on the purchase of products that are marketed on the basis of “hard data,” said Andrew Kaplan, Global Aromatics, Inc. vice president, marketing director. “The aesthetic and artistic considerations of fragrance formulations may thus be influenced and modified by the outcome of empirical investigations,” Mr. Kaplan said. “This trend will be further reinforced by the engineering of home ventilation systems that incorporate the dispensing of scents into the flow of temperature controlled and purified air.”

An added benefit Mr. Kaplan forecasts is a bigger market. “In terms of volume, more consumers working at home will mean more purchases, translating into more manufacturers and marketers offering a wider array of competitively priced products,” he said. “Homes will reflect this diversity in terms of the number and types of scents found in cabinets and on shelves.”

From the perspective of Debra Bornstein, marketing director, U.S. soap and household products fragrance division, International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), household products have two faces: business and private. “The business face expects the products and fragrances used in it be efficient and pleasant,” Ms. Bornstein said. “The private face caters to stressed-out consumers seeking small, affordable indulgences to enhance the overall well being of their environment and personal space as fragrances are hand picked by the consumers.”

Consumers are also becoming more sophisticated. “The class of buyer is shopping for something more upscale and ‘spiritually’ satisfying than mass market room freshening scents,” said Marc Parrilli, vice president, fragrance research and development, Berjé, Inc. “Aromatherapy or aromachology researched products will be sought after as consumers begin to want something that will comfort, stimulate and indulge them while they work.”

Debbie Nencheck, vice president marketing and evaluation, Bush Boake Allen, agreed that the concept of home for “non-traditional” activities is, indeed, growing. “Beyond the home office, rooms are often dedicated as self-styled retreats,” said Ms. Nencheck. “Women, in particular, view their retreats as a room ‘just for me’, decorated with favorite furnishings and scented to create a soothing and appealing atmosphere. As more time is spent in the home, we believe fragrance will be used to create more personalized spaces.”


Changing Attitudes
Fragrances used in household products must now not only signal functionality, but be pleasant enough to enhance the environment in which they are applied, according to Ms. Bornstein of IFF.

The focus for home fragrance increasingly is to offer ambience and mood enhancement rather than simply mask odors. “Consequently we will see the continuation of the trend toward the marketing of fragrance ‘collections’ rather than product lines,” said Ms. Bornstein. “In the consumers’ eyes, the focus for both initial and repeat purchase will remain on the fragrance rather than the brand, and consumers will continue to be primarily fragrance-sensitive rather than price-sensitive. The search for ambience-enhancing fragrances will move from being an indulgence to an integral and, eventually, fundamental part of decorating the home, multi-tasking within the home and a rudimentary part of our overall personal and environmental ‘wellness’ regime.”

But in today’s dot.com world, more consumers are using their home computers to buy products. But the question arises: Can consumers be sold the olfactory trait of a household product without leaving the home?

Ms. Nencheck of Bush Boake Allen said that traditional fragrance descriptions would have to be used to enhance consumer comprehension. “However, con-sumers often have difficulty understanding fragrance vocabulary,” she said. “Descriptions could be enhanced by the use of visual imagery to help ‘de-scribe’ the fragrance in a pictorial format.”

Mane’s Ms. Brockmann said the internet will significantly change the way fragrances of the future are marketed to customers. “Today, the limitations of time and space significantly restrict marketers in the type and amount of information available to the public,” said Ms. Brockmann. “The internet provides a great opportunity for companies to relay more interesting information to the public regarding the ingredients, benefits and concepts of fragrances.”

The internet will also provide a resource for companies to understand consumer preferences. “A marketer who might be concerned about launching a particular type of fragrance can set up a survey page on his company web site to see how many people would be interested in a new fragrance,” said Ms. Brockmann.

Technology is also attempting to bring scents into the home through the computer itself. Ms. Bonofiglio of TFF noted that DigiScents, Oakland, CA, is perfecting technology that will allow consumers to receive scents through their computer.

Trends for 2000
Whether shopping on the internet or cruising down to the local supermarket, consumers always want fragrances in their household products. Industry experts interviewed by Happi forecasted comfort fragrances remaining popular in household and environmental fragrances. Sophistication and subtlety are the buzzwords at Flavor & Fragrance Specialties, said Mr. Cerniglia. “Household products will follow the overall fragrance trend of sophistication and subtlety,” he said. “However, there is a strong demand for functionality as well as aesthetic properties. It has been recognized that a properly designed fragrance can help control malodors as well as deliver a pleasing aroma.”

Mr. Cerniglia said that although single note fragrances will always have a strong share of the market, there is a trend to more complex, subtle fragrances and frequent fragrance changes. “No particular category, such as florals, spices or woods, is continuously strong,” he said. “Consumers seem to be seeking a variety of sophisticated fragrances, with variety being the key word. The more fragranced products are used, the more variety is desired. It is a solution to ‘aroma boredom.’”

According to Ms. Nencheck of Bush Boake Allen, fragrance trends are moving toward a growing sophistication and complexity as a method of expanding on many existing single notes, particularly in the fruity category. “We forecast expansion in aromatherapy with notes beyond the traditional lavender with more exotic oils,” she said. “Our research tells us that consumers still favor clean, outdoor scents for many home fragrance applications.”


Scents Are A Changin’
But Mane’s Ms. Brockmann said a subtle shift in the market is already underway. “Currently, the market is flooded with home fragrances that duplicate everyday aromas from the kitchen to the garden to the laundry room,” she said. “This trend of surrounding oneself with ‘comfortable’ scents will begin to subside as consumers become more sophisticated in their tastes. Everyday scents will continue to inspire new fragrance creation, but more complex, ‘fantasy’ renditions will proliferate in accordance with a more sophisticated approach to fragrances.”

Fragrances are taking consumers to places that they’ve never been before because, even if they cannot physically visit a destination, they can travel there via olfaction. “Some of the newer household products now describe ‘rain-forest fresh’ scents and other places certainly not reminiscent of the kitchen and bathroom,” Berjé’s Mr. Parrilli said. “While descriptions such as Balinese Jungles or Old Growth Forest won’t be on shelves soon, I expect phrases such as rain forest, outback, tropical and mountain stream to start showing up more frequently.”

According to Mane executives, notes that are more sophisticated for every segment of the market will bypass the “comfort” scent. “Expect the transition from the traditional aromatherapeutic fragrances such as lavender and jasmine to more ingredient-based aromachology fragrances,” said Ms. Brockmann of Mane. “The ever-increasing popularity of health foods, vitamins and exercise points to Americans’ desire to look and feel good. They are interested in and knowledgeable about natural ingredients and their effects on the human body. In order to appeal to the consumer’s need to live well, marketers will need to respond with ingredients that are more interesting and provide better benefits.”

IFF’s Ms. Bornstein said perfumers are applying traditional personal care fragrances to home fragrance products. This trend should spill over into the household cleaning categories as well. Fragrance trends will also move toward rich, natural and botanical ingredients, continuing the convergence of science and nature in the creation of fragrances. “Scents scientifically captured in their natural environment, such as the jungle or a mountain top and fragrances that are novel, rare or unique are desirous,” said Ms. Bornstein.


Booming Influence
The baby boomers’ influence also continues to be a driving force. “Our own research suggests that baby boomers want scents that mimic nature and a healthy environment, and this often translates into ‘fresh and clean’ types,” Global Aromatics’ Mr. Kaplan said. “This means fragrances that are not overpowering, not too sweet or floral, and with ozone and marine notes that provide a clean and invigorating environment.”

An ironic influence is that perfumers are returning to the past as they head into a new century. “Many perfumers are looking at the trends in fashion and entertainment, visualizing a return to the cleaner, preppier decades of the 1950s and 1980s,” said Mane’s Ms. Brockmann. “They are blending the sheer, natural scents of today with the sophisticated, elegant fragrances of the past to create fragrances for the future. The coming of the new millennium will not mean the end of the everyday comfort scents but instead a transition in fragrancing.”

While Mane is going back a half-century for inspiration, Ms. Bonofiglio said TFF is looking a little farther back. “We will remember how the ancient people used fragrances spiritually to honor the gods, and we will follow in their footsteps,” she said. “We will take a long look at fragrance notes which have a history of making people feel well psychologically as well as physiologically. New scents will come from the incorporation of flavor notes in fragrance. Perfumers will try aromatics to create original nuances in their creations.”

Ms. Nencheck of Bush Boake Allen said that inspirations for new scents come from around the world, either from new ingredients or new products. “For household cleaning, in particular, new notes that communicate ‘freshly washed clean’ will be key,” she said. “We have seen an increase in modernized, complex citrus blends and the use of mint notes for freshness to do this.”

Givaudan Roure deserves credit for its efforts to capture new trends by taking to the forests, the oceanfront and the streets to classify aromas and predict new trends, according to Mr. Parrilli of Berjé. “Nearly every fragrance company is following and retrieving the data to incorporate into the marketing of a scent,” he said. “You can also throw in the European influence from companies such as L’Occitane to get us to think about recombining, in a new way, such notes as Cassis, rose, pepper, verbena and tomato.”

Mr. Kaplan also stressed clean and natural fragrances. “Green, marine and ozone notes will have greater emphasis,” he said. “There may well be a greater use of aromatherapy scents to provide mood enhancement along with air freshening and disinfecting.”

One of the company’s executives has also noticed a growing interest in food-type scents such as baked bread. “These tend to be especially popular on a seasonal basis,” said Mr. Kaplan.

While fragrance companies and perfumers search for a new fragrance for the household cleaner market, Mr. Parrilli said that they all may be a dog chasing his tail. “These so-called new notes are basically going to be a re-scoring of the old notes but with more research that explains why these scents are good for us,” he said.

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