The Household Fragrance Market

November 10, 2005

Sophisticated scents are increasingly popular.

Ocean Breeze. Floral Bouquet. Tropical Bloom. No, they're not the latest fragrances from Estée Lauder or Lancôme, they're just some of the descriptions of the newest fragrance variants in household cleaning products. In this heavily contested segment, the product's fragrance has become a key component in attracting consumers and keeping them.

Moreover, many of the newest household cleaners actually are hyped just as much for their fragrance as they are for their cleaning power. For example, Colgate-Palmolive's Spring Sensations dishwashing liquid is promoted for both its exceptional fragrance and its cleaning ability. In the automatic category, Procter & Gamble's Cascade Scent Expressions is a new automatic dishwashing detergent that also freshens the air when the dishwasher is turned on. Similarly, Sara Lee's Ambi-Pur toilet bowl cleaner promises to freshen the air throughout the entire bathroom, not just the bowl.

According to Marvin Matises, president of Galileo Idea Group, Naperville, IL, these innovative ideas in fragrancing provide a variety of benefits for the consumer.

"Fragrance conjures up a lot of positive feelings about the environment the consumer is cleaning," noted Mr. Matises. "Plus, there are positive halo effects regarding the product's cleaning efficacy. It makes the whole process more enjoyable."

Nobody's suggesting that doing the dishes or cleaning the toilet will ever be a total joy, but you don't need to be an aromatherapist to understand that a nice scent can go a long way toward improving the overall cleaning experience. In recent months, Procter & Gamble has launched an array of household cleaners with novel scents. "There's a huge trend toward consumers looking for scent-pleasing products," noted Monica Collins, a P&G spokesperson.

According to Rene Morgenthaler, master perfumer and global fragrance product leader at GivaudanAccess, the trend is partly consumer-driven and partly-technology driven. "Lemon and pine were traditionally the only fragrances strong enough to mask disinfectants and aggressive bases," he said. At GivaudanAccess, advances in smart fragrance technology allow perfumers to design fragrances that are aesthetically pleasing, multifunctional and stable in challenging bases."

With consumers spending more time at home, they're using a variety of methods to make them as comfortable as possible, said Jenine Guerriero, a marketing executive with Givaudan-Access. "Their homes are emotional places for them, and that feeling extends even to details like the scent of household products. Scents that are experiential now define the home care market."

The Rewards of a Good Scent
Market data indicates those marketers who offered deodorizer benefits to the consumer have been rewarded quite handsomely in recent years, noted Alan Streit of Shaw Mudge & Co. He pointed out that these benefits can play a primary role (as in ReckittBenckiser's Wizard Dual Action) or bring new benefits to multifunctional products such as Sara Lee's Ambi-Pur toilet bowl cleaner/room deodorizer. Overall, product success is due to creative perfumery and innovative and high-efficiency delivery systems that release actives more effectively and with greater consistency, said Mr. Streit. Investment in new odor control technologies have also fuelled growth in relatively new product categories as demonstrated by P&G's Febreze fabric deodorizer line, he added.

No matter what the household cleaning product category, the benefits of a particular fragrance figure prominently on many product labels.
The house-hold product market is being redefined as home care, added Nancy Bager of Robertet, who also noted an important segment of home care that will continue to grow in importance and size is indoor air quality.

"Product options must be available to meet this growing consumer need," said Ms. Bager. "New products will be designed to create a more comfortable home as well as make air cleaner."

She predicted this trend will redefine the consumer definition of air fresheners and odor eliminators. Possible new technologies will introduce fragrance ionization through devices that will purify the air and leave behind the smell of a clean, comfortable home.

Why the sudden interest in household product perfumery? Helen Feygin of Haarmann & Reimer told Happi that fragrance trends often follow current socioeconomic trends and one of the biggest in recent years has been cocooning, or nesting, as it is better known these days.

"Consumers are very much involved with their home and their home environment. They were involved prior to 9/11, but the tragedy exacerbated the issue and made the trend even bigger," said Ms. Feygin.

Striking the Right Note
For that reason, the Haarmann & Reimer executive noted that comforting fruit scents will remain important to household product perfumery for the foreseeable future. But even familiar fruit scents have received a facelift during the past year. "The fruity notes of a couple of years ago were sweet and heavy, such as sun-ripened raspberries," said Ms. Feygin. "Now the fruity notes are more natural, more crisp and brighter."

According to Ms. Feygin, the trend toward crisper fruit notes actually began in the fine fragrance segment with the launch of scents such as Escada's Tropical Punch. Since then, it trickled down into the household segment via products such as Downy Tropical Breeze.

In addition, consumers have become more sophisticated and fragrance savvy. They have a wardrobe of scents for both personal use and in the home, said Ms. Bager. "The popularity of body sprays and candles helped fuel the demands for sophisticated household cleaning product scents."

Guido Ciancolo of Alpine Aromatics agreed that the candle market has helped fuel demand for sophisticated scents. "Candles have brought an extremely rich array of various fragrances to the home and household products and they are an ideal way to keep the home fragranced too," he said. "The marketing department can then easily promote these products and make them attractive to the consumer."

Alan Brown of The Lebermuth Co. agreed that many household product marketers and fragrance suppliers are eyeing other industries to get some new fragrance ideas. He pointed out that the candle industry and the overall home fragrance market registered spectacular growth for many years. Although candle sales have cooled somewhat, the household cleaning segment is beginning to add some of the notes that were popular in environmental fragrances as well as personal care products.

"There has been a trend within the household cleaning segment to mirror the home fragrance market," said Mr. Brown. "There is also a lot of demand for citrus-floral concepts and fruity-floral concepts. This isn't new, but we're seeing a lot more of it in the household category."

Product fragrance trends can also be affected by changes in the population. Natalie Hinden-Kuhles and Alice Rebeck of Aromatech told Happi that the seniors and baby boomers that grew up with lemon and pine as the mainstay of cleaning fragrances are purchasing less, mainly because their households are smaller.

"Their children and grandchildren, now heads of their own households, have become a large segment of the consumer population," said the Aromatech executives. "They have more sophisticated concepts of clean and fresh and are more open to different ideas. Many of them love variety and are not afraid to try something new. The lemon and pine odors are perceived as industrial to these consumer groups. Today's consumer is looking for good, pleasant fragrances in all of their cleaning experiences."

Household product fragrances are also being influenced by the personal care market. "Shower gels and shampoos have expanded our definition of clean smells," said Ms. Guerriero. "Clean smells different than it used to. Consumers are open to a whole new range of fragrances, and accordingly, there are now more options available; household scents can be tailored to fit your home decor, your colors."

Freshness will remain a very popular trend in household cleaners, according to Ms. Feygin. She pointed out, however, that freshness isn't just how things smell, but represents new beginnings as well as something young, vibrant and clean in the mind of the consumer. "Fragrance that can execute freshness in a new way will be very popular. Bath & Body Works markets personal care products that include ginger, lime, lemongrass and sage and I'm certain these scents will trickle down to the household category.

But before the marketing department starts insisting on bolder fragrances, marketers of cleaning products should remember that no fragrance, no matter how nice, should last forever. "A residual odor should not linger," cautioned Ed Matson of Carrubba. "The fragrance should enhance the cleaning experience, but it should not be left behind. Nobody wants to smell musk when they're eating out of a soup bowl!"

Citrus Scents are No Lemons
Although marketers are trying a variety of new fragrance notes, several suppliers are quick to point out that citrus notes will always remain a very important fragrance within the household cleaning category. Still, there is always room for improvement on some old favorites.

Mr. Matson noted that traditional lemons and oranges can be rounded with other citrus notes to create a citrus bouquet that still smells clean and fresh. Or, marketers can combine citrus with green notes for an upscale fragrance, according to Mr. Matson.

Ross Gustafson of Florida Chemical agreed that more marketers want variety when it comes to traditional citrus scents. "There's a lot of interest in creating citrus fragrances that vary, so everything isn't the same." To accomplish this, fragrance formulators are blending a variety of lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits for a different twist on traditional citrus notes. In addition, he noted that citrus can often boost the cleaning capability of a cleanser because it acts as an environmentally-friendly solvent.

Mr. Morgenthaler added "Traditional scents, including lemon and pine, are part of the memories associated with what a clean home should smell like."

What Lies Ahead?
As chairman of the air care division of the Consumer Specialty Products Association, Mr. Streit has a keen interest in how the industry measures product performance. To that end, the CSPA air care division has created a deodorization committee under its scientific affairs umbrella. This highly focused group has a charter to create deodorization performance standards.

In today's olfactive-centered society even toiletbowl cleaners boast sophisticated scents.

"The committee is composed of dedicated individuals with diverse backgrounds representing leading consumer and industrial products marketers, testing laboratories and ingredient suppliers," said Mr. Streit. "It's wonderful to see this impressive group at the same table, and to watch them work together through tough issues by placing sound science and consumer needs ahead of all else.

"The ultimate consumer benefits from this undertaking are clear," he continued. "Once we can all agree on how high the bar is, then we can raise it for the future."

In addition to working with industry associations, companies are also tackling the malodor issue on their own. Ms. Bager of Robertet noted that one of Robertet's core competencies is malodor counteractancy. Robertet holds several patents in the field and its technologies are said to be extremely effective in reacting with common malodors.

"Our technologies are based upon our knowledge of and experience working with only 'real' malodors," explained Ms. Bager. "This means that we do not work with reproductions that may smell like the malodor but do not contain all of the actual malodor components."

To further expand its efforts in this area, Robertet's Malodor Counter-actancy database is being cross-referenced to other internal databases that will allow the company to create high impact fragrances that deliver malodor counteraction at very low use levels.

In terms of fragrance notes, Ms. Feygin of Haarmann & Reimer predicted that consumers' obsession with well-being and all things holistic will create greater demand for fragrances that take their cue from Asian ideas such as Feng Shui and Zen. Fragrance notes that are linked to these practices include green tea and ginger. Some personal care brands already on the market follow this trend, said Ms. Feygin, noting that several Origins products contain ginger and Elizabeth Arden launched an entire line based on green tea. She also predicted that lavender will become more popular.

Aromatherapy at the Kitchen Sink
Mr. Cianciolo of Alpine Aromatics said that U.S. consumers are even willing to try household cleaners that are promoted for their aromatherapeutic effects. "We will soon see an abundance of products with essential oil claims such as 'peppermint and rosemary' dishwashing liquid," he insisted. "In particular, tea tree oil has an excellent potential."

What's driving all the experimentation in household product perfumery? "If a manufacturer doesn't have something new, they're stale," said Mr. Brown of Lebermuth. "Changing the fragrance and the label is probably the easiest way to say a product is new and different."

"Fragrances in household cleaning products will proceed in an unconventional direction in the future as the lines between personal care and household fragrances become increasingly blurred," added Ms. Bager of Robertet.

Fragrances for the household will continue to become more complex, as marketers look for exotic destinations and interesting "environments" to make their products more appealing, said Ms. Hinden-Kuhles and Ms. Rebeck of Aromatech.

"We have partners that are developing new technologies for the delivery of fragrance in the home. Consumers will come to expect an increased level of quality and sophistication in their scents," they noted. "Improving the smell of their environments, and making mundane products a bit more fun, is what will drive this category."

Mr. Morgenthaler predicted household product perfumers will combine fruits with florals to create lemon flowers, orange blossoms and mandarin flowers. "Look for more natural citruses to combine with culinary herbs for more sophisticated scents," he told Happi. "New combinations will include exotic notes from tea and follow culinary trends combining notes like tarragon with bouquets of complex fruits."

Lori Smith of GivaudanAccess predicted there will be closer collaboration between perfumers and chefs to create a whole new range of ideas for kitchen cleaning products. "Imagine chef-inspired recipes resulting in unusual but intriguing combinations like Watermelon Radish, an eclectic combination of a fruit and root," said Ms. Smith. "We predict new designer labels from the world's great chefs in kitchen cleaners. Expect consumers to want a gourmet feeling in their cleaning products."

Mr. Matises of Galileo Idea Group agreed that sophisticated scents will begin appearing in even more household cleaning categories in the months ahead. He predicted that floor care will become the next segment to receive an olfactory makeover. "The addition of fragrance is a relatively lower-risk product improvement than something that is new to market."

With economic uncertainty looming in 2002, nearly every marketer is interested in low risk, high reward. Adding innovative new fragrances to existing products is often one of the easiest ways to boost sales and attract consumers to crowded retail shelves.