Features

Home Sweet Home Fragrance

September 3, 2008

Masking odor is a distant memory. Today’s environmental fragrance products eliminate pesky scents, transport people to exotic locations and look right at home doing so.

Chesapeake Bay Candle's new Signature collection is available in honey lemon creme.
Home Sweet Home Fragrance



Masking odor is a distant memory. Today’s environmental fragrance products eliminate pesky scents, transport people to exotic locations and look right at home doing so.


Christine Esposito
Associate Editor




When Jessica Orr, a 30-something stay-at-home mom in Cranford, NJ, went to her neighbor’s candle party, she was looking for two things: a few hours away from the kids and reed diffusers. With a cat and two toddlers, she found the flameless technology a safer way to scent her home.
    
Ms. Orr is a key customer in the home fragrance market: not only does she have a specific odor issue, she is open to new home scenting methods—a critical component in an environmental fragrance market that has moved far beyond the simple task of masking odor.
    
Today’s environmental fragrance products banish odor and kill bacteria with an amazing range of sophisticated scents. In addition, a keen eye for design has led to shelves full of candles, diffusers and other home fragrance products that match consumers’ sense of style as much as they appeal to their sense of smell. 
   
These factors are stoking the fires of competition in the home fragrance market, one in which household care companies, including S.C. Johnson, Reckitt Benckiser and P&G, vie against specialty home fragrance firms like Yankee Candle, direct sellers such as Blyth’s PartyLite and mass market specialty firms such as Chesapeake Bay Candle—not to mention a healthy dose of private label brands and niche players.
   
According to Little Falls, NJ-based market research firm Kline & Company, U.S. home fragrance sales rose 6% in 2007 to $3.4 billion at the manufacturer level and $5 billion at retail. Candles represent the largest category overall. However, during the past five years, there has been shifting preference in delivery systems. In 2002, candles accounted for more than half of the market. However, fragrance sprays and diffusers have been growing at much higher rates, pushing candle’s share below 50% last year according to Kline & Company’s most recent report on the U.S. home fragrance market.

Greater Sophistication



While consumer preference is fluid, the one constant in the environmental fragrance market is, well, fragrance. Scent remains paramount whether the delivery method is a candle, spray or plug-in device. What has changed, however, is the type of fragrances available. Today’s home scents are much more sophisticated—think notes of fig, tobacco and pomegranate—accords that at first glance would seem more at home in a flacon than in a Mason-style glass jar.
   
Christelle Jourdan, a product development and design and fragrance specialist with Chesapeake Bay Candle, often looks to fine fragrance to see which notes can be translated to the home category. However, she said there is some “trickle up.”  For example, gourmand accords that have been popular in the home marketplace are making their way into more fine fragrances. “Fine fragrance looks to us too,” she said.
   
While lighting a candle to make a home feel more “homey” seems second nature, that wasn’t always the case. According to Barbara Miller, a spokesperson for the National Candle Association in Washington, D.C., while 75-80% of all candles sold today in the U.S. are scented, in the early 1990s, the vast majority were unscented. 
   
Winter Evening is one of four new scents in the Febreze candle line.
According to Adrian Atterby, industry analyst for household care products with Euromonitor, the growth of more sophisticated scents reflects an attitude shift in the air care market. “Ten years ago, people were using air fresheners when unpleasant odors came up. Now they use air care products more to set the atmosphere,” he said from his office in London.
   
Alyce Nicholson-Sheehan, P&G’s consumer scent trends expert, told Happi that in terms of scent, the environmental fragrance market is becoming more emotional, evocative and exotic. 
 
She sees movement toward “emotionally charged” fragrances, which have the ability to soothe and make users feel more relaxed.  An example is lavender vanilla, a new scent in the Febreze line as well as in the new Swiffer wood care collection.

‘Tis the Season



Ms. Nicholson-Sheehan also noted the continued role of seasonal varieties in the home fragrance market.
       
“When you think about freshness in general, which Febreze stands for, it is a dynamic state. Doesn’t it make sense that your senses will rotate and relate to what you see in nature? They should mirror the season,” said Ms. Nicholson-Sheehan.
       
Playing to that trend are the newest scents in the successful Febreze Candle line—Autumn Spice & Crisp, Pumpkin Harvest & Fall, Winter Evening & Warmth and Fresh Evergreen & Snow. Like the other varieties in the line, the new scents offer 30-hour burn time and eliminate unpleasant odors. 
       
Method is bringing back a seasonal scent, Gingerbread Spice, which had been a customer favorite, according to Suzanne McCormick, director of fragrance development. In addition, the company’s 2008 Holiday air care collection will feature Toasted Hazelnut, Spiced Pear, Frosted Fir and Winterberry scents.
   
Expanding on the concept that consumers like variety, earlier this year, Sara Lee and Henkel forged a partnership to bring a version of Sara Lee’s Ambi Pur 3Volution air freshener, a plug-in used by more than 12 million consumers across 18 countries, to the U.S. market. The Renuzit Tri Scents air freshener automatically rotates through three complementary fragrances every 45 minutes. Available fragrance choices include Seaside Breezes (Relaxing Waves, Beach Breezes and Ocean Oasis scents) and Morning Meadow (Waterfall Mist, After the Rain and Pure Breeze scents). Separate settings allow consumers to control the intensity of the fragrance delivery.

Candle, Take Me Away



Another trend traveling through the home fragrance market is destination scents. Candles and sprays feature a combination of accords that can transform, in an olfactory sense, the common center hall colonial to a tropical beach resort or chateau in Provence.
   
Take, for example, Chesapeake Bay Candle’s new Reflect & Escape collection, which hits shelves at Target this month. The collection of candles, reed diffusers and travel accessories features six complex, sophisticated multi-note scents inspired by the Chesapeake Bay design team’s journeys around the globe.  The company identified local agriculture practices and crafted fragrance combinations reflective of each destination’s heritage—resulting in what it calls “authentic fragrance pairings that invite consumers on a sensory journey” to several ports of call including Havana (earthy tobacco mixed with sandalwood and cedar), Casablanca (a blend of nutmeg and cinnamon rolled in crushed cloves), and Valencia, Spain (blood orange with a hint of quince and lime leaf).

Animal Instinct



In addition to setting a mood, companies are tackling specific odor issues, such as those that come when sharing a home with Fido and Fluffy. Is it a niche market? According to IBIS World Inc., a publisher of business intelligence research, 71.1 million U.S. households own a pet, and more than half of those households have more than one animal.
   
P&G is offering pet owners a wider array of tools to deodorize and freshen up their homes, having recently extended its pet odor eliminator technology to Febreze Candles and Febreze Noticeables. To mark the launch of the line, which also includes Febreze Fabric Refresher and Air Effects Pet Odor, Febreze has signed on as the first sponsor of Dogster.com’s Adoption Zone, furthering its partnership with the pet-focused website and its sister site, Catster.com. At both sites, visitors who join a special Febreze group will receive a limited edition Pet Pal Pack that includes a collapsible pet bowl, food scoop, food clip and Febreze Pet Odor Eliminator coupons.   
   
Church & Dwight is also going to the dogs. The company has added new Arm & Hammer Pet Fresh Fresh-ins—pouches packed with baking soda that are emptied into a vacuum bag or dust cup. The crystals inside each packet neutralize odors inside and outside the vacuum, eliminating unpleasant odors and leaving a fresh, clean scent. An added bonus: Fresh-ins eliminate static in the dust cup, making emptying and cleaning bagless vacuums an easier task.
   
In addition to new Pet Fresh Fresh-ins, Arm & Hammer has introduced new Pet Fresh vacuum bags and filters. This line, which is distributed by Electrolux Home Care Products, offers twice the odor fighting power of traditional Arm & Hammer bags, according to the company.

Lifestyle Choices



Also addressing a very specific odor—tobacco—is Vamoose Products. The Austin, TX company recently entered the consumer side of the market with new products and scented pump spray bottles for homeowner use. Vamoose, which had traditionally been used mainly in commercial settings, such as hotel chains and apartment complexes, can now be easily used in homes and cars, as well as on couches, leather goods, handbags and other items to remove the residual smells from cigarette, pipe and cigar smoke.     
   
What makes Vamoose powerful in the battle against tobacco odor is Novexium technology, which the company says molecularly combines with the tar and nicotine molecules deposited by smoking and converts them into inert matter. Once inert, the molecules are neutralized and lose their ability to emit odors. During the conversion process, a customized scent masks the molecular conversion and indicates that the conversion process is active.
   
Earlier this year, the company expanded distribution through an accord with HBI Tobacco International in which Vamoose products will be stocked at HBI’s Smokers Friendly’s stores, a cigarette and tobacco chain with more than 500 locations in the U.S.
   
Yankee Candle's new soy line.
Another lifestyle that’s factoring into home fragrance is the green movement. According to Ms. Miller of the National Candle Association, despite the fact that all candles burn in the same manner, consumers are gravitating to natural products, especially soy- and other vegetable-based candles as well as beeswax varieties (which, unfortunately for the air care market, can’t be scented).
   
Many companies are already answering the call for candles that use more renewable and recycled materials. Yankee Candle, for example, touts a collection of 100% soy candles sold under the Beanswax banner. The line—which is available in 10 fragrances and features 100% natural wick and no artificial colors or dyes—includes large and medium tumblers made of frosted green glass made from recycled materials with renewable wood lids. 

Form and Function



While scent is the main driver of sales, aesthetics matter too as candles and diffusers often play a key role in home décor.  According to Unity Marketing’s 2008 Gift and Decorative Accents report, candles are the most purchased product in home decorative accents. Data shows that 62% of those who purchased any furnishing or decorative accent in the past year bought candles and accessories.
   
With that in mind, designers are devoting considerable time to how their product will look in a home, whether it will be placed on a coffee table in the living room, near the sink in the bathroom or plugged in a kitchen outlet. From beautiful shapes to vivid colors and textures, consumers want home fragrance products that fit their olfactory taste and their design style. 
   
Fine design—of product and packaging—has been a critical component for Chesapeake Bay Candle, which is exemplified in its new Signature collection. Unveiled last month at the New York International Gift Fair in New York City, Chesapeake Bay said Signature is a way for Mei Xu, the owner and creator of the company, to “thank the ever-expanding circle of friends of the brand,” which was born 15 years ago in the basement of her Annapolis, MD home.
   
The Signature collection features stylish packaging with silhouettes of timeless blossoming trees with ombre shading and silver accents and extravagant ribbons that top off the natural theme of the packaging design. The candles are made from soy wax, feature 100% cotton, lead-free wicks, and are hand poured by skilled artisans. The eight fragrances of the Signature collection—which are comprised of all natural essential oils, span a range of profiles from citrus to gourmand to ozonic—include honey lemon creme, green bamboo jasmine, lily orange blossom, tonka bean fig, amber vanilla hazelnut, nutmeg cardamom seed, cedarwood sweet tobacco and sheer white musk.
   
The company also paid the same attention to detail when it came to its first foray into plug-in diffusers. Launched earlier this year, the ceramic device features graphic design that fits well with the line’s fashion-forward slant, according to Mareike Finck, assistant manager of public relations and marketing.
   
Method features several ways to fragrance the home—soy candles in crisp white holders, Aroma Pill plug-in diffusers, Aroma Ring gel diffusers and Aroma Sticks—all of which fit the company’s modus operandi of simple, clean design. 
   
“The design and fragrance play an equal and essential role in our home fragrance products. They truly represent the style and substance story that launched Method,” said Ms. McCormick.
   
Major household care companies are also improving the look of their candles and home fragrance sprays by jazzing up the packaging and adding new colors to create a more high-end look, which can also help at retail.
   
“When a consumer walks up to the shelf, she sees a myriad of choices. Color is a huge cue into the scent camp, and it helps relate the story,” said Ms. Nicholson-Sheehan of P&G. For example, for its new Winter Evening Febreze Candle, P&G opted for a deep blue color, which, according to Ms. Nicholson-Sheehan, will stop the eye of a consumer as she scans the candle selections in the air care aisle at the local supermarket.

Retail Choice


 
Shopping for environmental fragrance products has never been easier for today’s busy consumers. Candles, diffusers and sprays can be picked up nearly everywhere, from the dollar shop to department stores to a neighbor’s living room.
   
In mass especially, consumers are beset with choices—which may or may not be the best situation for some players in the market. For example, a woman shopping for scent and/or odor control heads to the household care aisle at the local box retailer, while another customer is browsing through candles and diffusers across the store in the home décor section—or another outlet entirely—where SCJ, P&G and other household care brands aren’t stocked.
   
“Are these companies missing a trick by not extending distribution to other markets away from supermarkets to home décor stores?” asked Mr. Atterby of Euromonitor.
   
Even with its modernist approach to design, Method is right at home among more traditional household care products.
   
“While the home décor section is a good fit with the brand offering, the air care aisle is an ideal location for Method to disrupt the category by offering high décor items with high-quality fragrances at an affordable price,” said Ms. McCormick.
   
While Yankee Candle executives know that home fashion has a role in the environmental fragrance market—evidenced by their purchase of Illuminations in July 2006—the company is squarely committed to its core brand position.         

“Fortunately for Yankee Candle, the key brand positioning is about delivering the best fragrance experience for customers,” said Rick Ruffolo, senior vice president of brand, marketing and innovation. “Unlike ‘fashion/designer’ brands which sell primarily based on their look or style, the Yankee Candle positioning is anchored in superior fragrance performance and is far less dependent on the ever-changing fashion trends. We like to say we sell candles you light, not candles that you dust.”
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