Fair-Weather Home Fragrances: A New Climate

November 14, 2005

Candle manufacturers are banking on seasonal growth, as fragrance sprays shoot up the charts.

Environmental fragrance marketers don’t need a Christmas list—they just want more robust sales this holiday season. Industry experts predict candles and other home fragrance products will shine during the holidays as consumers spend more time in their homes and indulge in holiday decorations and scents. The $2 billion U.S. candle market, which excludes candle accessories, has not recorded robust growth in recent years, but candles are still a focal point in the home, according to the National Candle Association (NCA), Washington, D.C.

Even though spending on interior decorating declined last year, the NCA said 74% of women still insist that candles are an important home accessory and 72% regularly use candles during home entertaining.

“A few years ago, the business was unstoppable as sales were doubling,” stated Valerie Cooper, executive vice president of NCA. “But now, sales have remained stable and leveled off somewhat, as many people have less money to spend on decorating.”

“Many candle manufacturers had a slow year,” added Chris Balthasar, vice president of marketing, Nirvana Candles, Santa Cruz, CA. “It’s all been chalked up to the economy. However, reports have said candles sales are still growing for 65% of retailers.”

Some companies have also tried to expand home fragrance offerings to make up for flat candle results. Kline & Co., Little Falls, NJ, said sales of both specialty room products and potpourri rose in 2002, offsetting declines in candle and diffuser sales. The firm also noted in its “Home Fragrances USA 2002” report that room sprays rebounded, growing 5.6% in 2002 after two straight years of double-digit declines. Whatever the trend, one thing’s for sure: consumers want their homes to smell as good as they look.
The Body Shop releases seasonal fragrance oils to warm consumers’ living spaces.

Festive Festivities
As part of a widespread nesting trend, PartyLite executives insist holidays have taken on a whole new meaning. More consumers than ever are decorating both the insides and outsides of their homes for any and every occasion.

“We live in such a fast, high-paced society and people want to make their homes as nice as they can be for what little time is spent there,” said Bob Rosenberger, communications director, PartyLite. PartyLite executives said 50% of U.S. homes will decorate for Halloween, trailing only Christmas in popularity.

“Halloween is such an important decorating opportunity,” said Mr. Rosenberger. “It has shifted from one night of decorations to a season-long celebration of autumn.”

The Plymouth, MA-based company hopes to capitalize on increases in decorating for holidays other than Christmas. The company’s Auroraglow technology is featured in the Pumpkin Ball this fall, a candle rendition of a Jack-o’-lantern. This clear candle technology makes candles glow from the inside out, according to executives.

In the fall, PartyLite will launch Fall Harvest fragrances: Pear Pleasures, a mixture of sweet pears, golden apples, roasted almonds and vanilla; Whispering Leaves with crisp and wood notes as well as sweet moss and amber and Homespun Memories, a melange of home-baked nutmeg, cinnamon and orange zest. These scents tie into a memory-evoking edible scent trend that has been extremely successful with consumers.

“Most of the new interest in fragrances has been nostalgic scents,” Mr. Rosenberger explained. “For example, our Homespun scent is a luscious fragrance that smells like baked goods.”

Also expanding on the nostalgic trend, Yankee Candle’s Home Classics has added two new candle scents: Nutmeg & Cedar and Sea Blossoms.

NCA executives said candle usage increases during the winter months and expect bold contemporary colors such as plum, berry and fuchsia to be popular this year. PartyLite will round out its holiday offerings with Spearmint Candy Cane, Pine Berry, Creamy Cocoa and Winter Solstice candles.

Aromatique, Heber Springs, AR, introduced Pumpkin Spice candle, as well as the richly-colored and fragrant Cinnamon Cider and Peppercorn candles and accessories for autumn. This holiday season, Aromatique offers Holiday Berry, a blend of berries and golden botanicals, that is available in a decorative fragrance, refresher oil and room spray, candle in glass, votive, pillar and jar candle forms. Other new memory-reviving candle scents include Smell of the Tree and Amaretto Nog.

Interior Embellishments
Of course, holidays aren’t the only time home fragrances can match a theme in décor. The NCA said the room many women (31%) would like to redecorate is the living room, where 46% of women spend most of their home time.

Yankee Candle, Deerfield, MA, launched Housewarmer electric home fragrancers, which are linked to the company’s “Styling with Fragrance” concept, created by best-selling author and HGTV host Susie Coelho. The company contends the electric fragrance market is growing. “This is the strongest trend we’ve seen in home fragrances in several years,” insisted Susan Stockman, director of public relations, Yankee Candle.

According to the “Styling with Fragrance” concept, decorating and redecorating can be a daunting task and an easy approach is to use fragrance to change ambiance, and inspire an entire room design. For example, fragrances can set the mood for décor ideas, paint colors and furniture.

“The ‘Styling with Fragrance’ concept uses the sense of smell, and most people find it triggers strong memories, feelings and thoughts,” Ms. Stockman said. “The sense of smell can be a basis for how a room might be decorated.”

The diffusers are available in eight scents: Home Sweet Home, Clean Cotton, MacIntosh, Sage & Citrus, French Vanilla, Seaside Holiday, Honeydew Melon and Lilac Blossoms.

Yankee Candle also noted that there is a gender gap when it comes to fragrance and home decorating.

“People really recognize that fragrance has a very powerful role in their lives,” Ms. Stockman commented. “Women in particular are very sensitive about their homes.”

In other news, Yankee Candle will open two new Yankee Candle Home stores this fall, one in Nashua, NH and another in White Marsh, MD. Executives said they will be connected to existing Yankee Candle stores. The pilot Yankee Candle Home store, located at the company’s headquarters in Deerfield, MA, opened in June of 2002.

Glade’s PlugIns Scented Oil fan’s scent strength can be adjusted using a dial.

An Overture to Oils
As Yankee Candle executives noted, plug-in scents are becoming increasingly popular. Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Chicago, reported sales declined 2.7% in the supermarket sector, but industry experts insist the category remains an area of high growth.

In the mass market, SC Johnson’s Glade brand launched the Glade PlugIns Scented Oil fan, which offers long-lasting fragrance that circulates throughout an entire room. “The secret to this innovative new product lies in a built-in fan that actively disperses scented oil fragrances,” insisted Therese Van Ryne, public relations manager, global public affairs, SC Johnson, Racine, WI.

The fan has a dial with five fragrance intensity levels, providing control over scent strength. Also, the PlugIns Scented Oil fan does not block electrical outlet accessibility. The Glade PlugIns Scented Oil Fan primary unit, which includes both the warmer and a scented oil bottle, is available in a new fragrance Floral Escape, and popular fragrance Hawaiian Breeze.

Nine additional Glade PlugIns Scented Oil varieties can be used to refill the fan warmer.

“Consumer research indicates that people feel better and more comfortable in their homes when they’re clean and smell fresh,” explained Ms. Van Ryne. “With families spending more time together in their homes today, it’s natural that home fragrances have become more popular.”

SC has added several scents to the Johnson Glade PlugIns Scented Oil line: Apple Cinnamon, Butterfly Garden and Summer Berries. Also new are the Mango Splash and Orange fragrances under the Glade PlugIns warmers banner, which includes Glade PlugIns Extra Outlet, Double Strength, Night Light and Classic.

Glade’s Press ‘n Fresh concentrated sprays are now available in a refill form. The scents, which are released with a press of a finger, include Rainshower and Country Garden. Each refill package has a “Scratch-n-Sniff” feature to sample the fragrances.

Blyth Inc. will add a number of diffusers, based on its Bloomin’ Essences diffuser, under different brands next year, according to executives. The Colonial at Home arm of Blyth also launched liquid and dry potpourri forms to compliment its candles.

“Candles are still the most popular mode of delivery, but when people buy candles, they are often buying additional products of the same fragrance,” said John Lanman, vice president of marketing, North America, Blyth HomeScents.

Specialty retailer The Body Shop, Burlingame, CA, will release limited edition fragrance oils this fall, including old favorites Pumpkin Nectarine and Spicy Berry, as well as new Autumn Breeze and Apple Harvest. For the holidays, the company will introduce Cinnamon, Cranberry, Snow, Fig, Brandied Apple and Holiday Pine. Sold for $7 each, the oils are heated in the Body Shop’s Aroma Jar.

As it phases out its Wizard name in favor of Air Wick, Reckitt Benckiser released the Air Wick Click Spray Long Lasting Bathroom Freshener last year. According to IRI, Wizard Home air fresheners ranked No. 2 in the air fresheners category in supermarkets last year. This aerosol can stick on virtually any vertical, solid bathroom surface using a built-in hole or adhesive pad. Executives said it can be easily reapplied to surfaces up to three times and fragrance is released in one click. Starter units and refills are available in both Peony Rose, Sparkling Citrus and Fresh Waters scents.

Fragrance layering has become popular, as seen in PartyLite’s Creamy Cocoa candle.

Layering It On
Another noted trend in the home fragrance market is fragrance layering. SC Johnson’s new Glade 3 in 1 candles contain three layers of fragrance, which compliment one another and create unique scent blends as one layer burns into the next. Glade is the No. 1 candle marketer in supermarkets, with sales of $43.1 million for the year ended July 13, 2003, according to IRI.

“Consumers love to try different scents and to mix and match those scents,” explained SC Johnson’s Ms. Van Ryne.

The Glade 3 in 1 Evening at Home scent combines clean linen, scented bath salts and warm hearth; Berry Picking blends fresh strawberry, wild raspberry and midnight berry and Starlit Garden features a mixture of night blooming scents moonflower, lemon lily and jade orchid.

Also joining the fragrance layering trend is PartyLite with Creamy Cocoa. This candle has two colors, white and gray, imitating a cup of cocoa topped with sweet cream.

“There is an evolving trend for fragrance layering,” explained Mr. Rosenberger. “We take a couple of fragrances that go together nicely. People are also creating their own unique blends by burning two candles at once, such as Homespun Memories and Pear Pleasure.”

Getting a Handle on Candles
New entries into the candle market this year encompass both food-like aromas and scents designed to promote well-being. Blyth’s Colonial Candle division expanded its Sorbet collection with Apple Peach, Apricot Mango, Black Cherry and Kiwi Strawberry.

Primal Elements, Garden Grove, CA, has expanded its Mystic and Color Bowl candle collections. These collections use a patented paragel translucent gel and wax candle that radiate when lit, which is enhanced with glass bowls. For the fall and winter seasons, Bayberry and Candied Fruits will be available in more than 20 Mystic candle forms. Eleven additions were made to the Primal DeLights collection this autumn, such as Appletini, Fireside and Winterfall.

The vegetable wax-based Aromatic Candles are available in four new fragrances: Cinnamon Apples, Heart of Hearts, Holiday and After Dinner Mint. Primal Elements also expanded its aluminum Aromatic candles with several new fragrances, such as Bergamot Tea, Fig, Orange Crème, Red Currant and Paperwhite.

In the aromatherapeutic arena, Indigo Wild, Kansas City, MO, will launch several candles for the holidays. The Holiday Confetti fragrance, a mixture of peppermint, fir needle and sweet orange, will be available in Aroma mist, Zum Glow candle and bar soap. Also new is Frankincense and Myrrh, a deep, warm and woodsy treat that is sold in various forms such as the Zum Glow candle, incense, Aroma mist and gift set.

Other new candles include the Zum Tov, a blend of almond and orange, and Cinnamon Zum Glow.

Jars Galore
The containers in which candles are sold can also make a fashion statement in the home, which is largely related to the changing consumer attitude from “cocooning” to “hiving.”

“People are bringing families and friends into the home more with a buzz of activity,” said Blyth HomeScents’ Mr. Lanman. “The desire to have the home looking nice and situated is even greater. Home products and décor sales will benefit from that.”

Seventy-nine percent of candle consumers buy jar candles. To capitalize on that fact, Colonial at Home, a division of Blyth, recently introduced the Signature line housed in upscale jars with metal lids and embossed labels. Available in eight scents such as Cranberry, Lavender and Rainwater, the candle jars are available in 4.5- and 9.5-oz. sizes. The candles feature a blend of paraffin and soy wax and are sold through independent retailers.

Under the Simple Essence line, Blyth now offers a collection of fragrances in the signature oval glass jar. Three new fragrances this fall include Eucalyptus Clove, Waterlilly and Lemongrass. Executives insist these natural fragrances offer repose from the harried world.

“These nature-inspired colors and fragrance brings the basic beauty of the outdoors inside,” said Mr. Lanman. “There is a tremendous amount of anxiety out there and women are looking for comfort. Nature is a bridge to that.”

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Some candle manufacturers are appealing to environmentally-aware consumers. Nirvana Candles, Santa Cruz, CA, launched Nirvana Vase candles, premium essential oil- and vegetable wax-based candles that are housed in reuseable vases. Residual wax can be melted in the oven and poured out, and the two-toned vases become part of the household décor.

“In-keeping with our company mission, we wanted environmentally- and socially-conscious products,” said Nirvana Candles’ Mr. Balthasar. “Jar candles are a huge part of the market, but after you burn the candle, what do you do with the jar?”

The vases stand 4.75 inches tall and are available in yellow-red, red-green, green-blue, cobalt blue-orange and green-yellow. The Karmic Candle cubes are sold in a variety of colors and scents such as Mandarin (red-orange), Lemon Drop (pale yellow), Ginger (bright blue) and Bergamot and Rosemary (bright green). Nirvana candles are sold in retail stores and Whole Foods markets.

Bacteria Blues
In the home fragrance category, several new products were introduced in the past year to not only freshen homes, but to kill bacteria as well. SC Johnson has entered the newly coined “air sanitizing” category with Oust. Executives said Oust not only masks smells, but it kills 99.9% of odor-causing bacteria. Executives said the spray, which attaches to odor-causing bacteria in the air, fills a consumer void.

“Based on consumer need gaps, last December, we launched Oust Air Sanitizer, a product that does more than just cover up odors,” insisted Ms. Van Ryne of SC Johnson. “It kills bacteria, binds to their odor molecules and carries them away, removing unwanted smells from pets, dirty laundry, mold and the bathroom.”

The product is available in Floral, Outdoor and Citrus scents.

SC Johnson has also added a line of sprays under its Glade banner. Unlike other Glade sprays, executives said the new Glade Fragrant mist is packaged in a sleek and elegant glass bottle and is described as a high-quality “perfume for your home.” It not only adds a pleasant aroma to a room, but it also enhances the décor.

“There’s no need to hide the spray in a cabinet after use because the stylish glass bottle adds to the ambiance and décor of any room in your home,” Ms. Van Ryne asserted.
Glade Fragrant mist comes in house-warming Alpine Spice and Country Garden scents.

Dial has launched the new Renuzit Super Odor Neutralizer, a fine mist spray that freshens the air and eliminates odor that is both airborne and fabric-laden. Renuzit products rank No. 4 and No. 5 in the supermarket air freshener category, according to IRI. Executives said Renuzit Super Odor Neutralizer does not use propellants. It is available in three variants, Orchard Garden, Citrus and Herbal Blossoms.

Early in 2003, Reckitt Benckiser introduced Neutra Air, a similar product sold under the Lysol brand, according to Kline & Co.

“These new product variations blur the line between room sprays and household cleaning products, and we can probably expect to see more products with cleaning benefits and room-freshening scents,” said Lenka Contreras, group director of the consumer products practice, Kline & Co.

Heather’s Natural and Organic Cleaning Products, a division of Jason Natural Cosmetics based in Culver City, CA, recently launched a line of Magni-Fi-Scent room fragrances in several varieties: Citrus Fresh, Ocean Fresh, Fresh Forest and Fresh Orchard Blossom. Executives said they use pure, aromatherapeutic essential oils.

For cars or any space that needs a lift, Car-Freshener Corp., Watertown, NY, has launched a new line of plastic air fresheners under its Just Great banner. Radical Reptiles, available in two shapes, Gecko and Frog, feature fresh, clean scents.

The Spark of Creation
Though candle and diffuser sales slumped last year, executives insist the home fragrance sector remains strong and opportunistic.

“The candle category is still growing but not at the same massive rate as in the 1990s,” noted Blyth HomeScents’ Mr. Lanman. “With this plateauing of the trend, marketers are looking for innovative ways to spark new interest and ancillary categories to help grow business.”

Consumers are definitely focusing more on home decor these days and creating a warm and inviting atmosphere, as evidenced by the popularity of shows such as The Learning Channel’s “Trading Spaces,” home fragrance use and holiday decorating. The next big thing will depend on consumer lifestyle and product innovation.