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On-Trend Scents

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | June 19, 2014

Fragrance plays a key role in a product’s success. Here’s what’s working and why when it comes to product perfumery.

Destination weddings? They’re pricey for all involved, but sure, why not? But destination detergents? Really? In an effort to stand out on an increasingly crowded shelves, marketers are paying close attention to product perfumery and the feelings that fragrances evoke in cash-carrying consumers, according to Mary Cantz, principal, strategic insights, IRI Worldwide. 
“These scents say take me where I’ve been, or where I aspire to go,” explained Cantz.
Cantz provided scentful insights during the Air Care Division session at the midyear meeting of the Consumer Specialty Products Association held in Chicago in May.
The folks at Reckitt Benckiser expect vacationers will head to US National Parks this summer. That’s why Air Wick has partnered with the National Park Foundation to create a collection of scents that includes Grand Canyon (with notes described as cactus flower and warm breeze), Denali (soft cotton grass and spring air), Hawai’i (exotic papaya and hibiscus flower), American Samoa (sweet coconut and island palms), Gulf Islands (white sands and seashores) and Virgin Islands (tropical plumeria and sweet honeysuckle).  SC Johnson took the same tack with limited edition Glade room freshener scents like Hawaiian Breeze, Aruba Wave and Bali Bloom. For those who have been there and done that, today’s fragrances promise to improve their wellbeing. Which explains why store shelves are stocked with SKUs such as Febreze Sleep Serenity.
Who’s buying all these new-fangled fragrances? Nearly everyone. According to IRI data, 8 of 10 Americans participate in the air care category, which represents 96 million households. African-Americans are engaged consumers, accounting for 15% of air care sales. Other big purchasers of air care scents including younger Baby Boomers and multiple pet owners.
But who’s missed the boat on home fragrance trends? Cantz said growth opportunities exist for marketers who target low-income groups, urban dwellers and older Baby Boomers.
And then there’s Millennials.
“They’re not into air care,” Cantz insisted. “They are cutting back purchases on non-edibles.”
She explained that although the unemployment rate is declining, the job market has not improved all that much for those born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. As a result, they are determined to reduce debt, spend frugally, shop in dollar stores …and they trust store brands, too.
“They don’t think private label is inferior,” Cantz told the audience.
In today’s complex retail environment that welcomes more than 300,000 new Universal Product Codes each year, fewer than 500 will reach sales of $10 million a year. She urged attendees to protect successful new products during the all-critical second year by adding new scents, expanding distribution and maintaining spending.
In this challenging environment, three key new product trends have emerged, according to Cantz:
            • Simplicity;
            • Wellness; and
            • Excitement.
One air care product that combines all three trends is Wall’s Funny Feet car freshener. Unilever teamed up with Airpure International to launch the product that’s based on the top-selling ice cream brand. The strawberry-scented air freshener is designed to awaken childhood memories of the novelty ice cream.
Millennials Are All That

Just when it seemed that there has never been a generation that thinks more of itself than Baby Boomers, along comes the Millennials, who, according to Marcella Lampone, global marketing manager, IFF, are the most self-absorbed and sleep-deprived generation of them all. It’s a group that grew up with YouTube and documents everything it does. As a result, Millennials tend to be overstimulated.
“This generation’s senses are on steroids,” Lampone explained.
How else can one explain the popularity of Everything, a perfume by Lernert & Sander that mixed all the scents introduced in 2012, nearly 1,400 of them, to create 1.5 liters of juice that sold out in hours. See:
For a group that wants, and already has, everything, IFF created Dot Com (, a new scent from Bond No. 9 that aimed at those in the digital village, who are comfortable, “shopping, clicking and cruising,” explained Lampone, who said the Dot Com juice starts out with fruity notes, but is constantly shifting.
Bond calls it a universal scent for men and women. It contains notes of bergamot, pineapple, juniper berry, apple, blackcurrant, cedarwood, patchouli, moss, musk and amber.
Successful products and fragrances in the future, according to Lampone, are those that can deliver the unexpected, such as chocolate with poprocks or Skittles Riddles, the colored candy that doesn’t taste like it looks.
It’s all for a generation that has come to expect the unexpected.

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