Wax and Wane

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | August 31, 2012

When it comes to home fragrance, some categories are burning brighter than others.

Pillar candle or plug in? Spray or simmer? Consumers have plenty of choices when it comes to scenting their homes. But the preferred method of olfactory delivery is personal—and at times fleeting. Just a few years ago, for example, consumers were enamored with plug-in devices that offered easy, automated fragrance delivery. Today, much more hands-on “wax melts” are gaining ground. What’s fashionable in home fragrance can be just as changeable as, well, fashion itself.

Scented candles—the epicenter of the home fragrance market—posted 3.3% growth in 2011, according to data crunched by Kline & Company, which recently released its Home Fragrances: U.S. Market Analysis and Opportunities report.

With little innovation in the sector, candle growth was fueled by premium-priced SKUs available in specialty and department stores, as well as online websites like candlesoffmain.com and candleluxury.com, according to Kline, Parsippany, NJ.

Yet in mass, sales of candles dropped slightly. According to SymphonyIRI Group, Chicago, candle sales fell 1.81% to $631.9 million and units slumped 6.5% in FMDx outlets for the 52 weeks ended July 8. And sales of home air fresheners—which include plug-in type units—drooped 5.45% to $803.2 million and units were down nearly 7%.


Yankee Candle’s new Coconut Numerical Collection has a modern aesthetic.
Dollars and Scents
According to Kline, while diffusers and room sprays have been slowly gaining market share in recent years, the introduction of lower priced products resulted in the diffusers’ market posting a rare decline.
And it could have been worse, according to Kline. The market was buoyed by less expensive options such as Air Wick’s Flip & Fresh and Febreze’s Set & Refresh and aggressive advertising by the industry’s largest players.

But those ad dollars aren’t being spent at the same rate this year. Companies behind powerhouse air care brands like Airwick, Febreze and Glade have cut back on advertising placements. Specifically, Reckitt Benckiser decreased its media support for the third year in row, according Karen Doskow, industry manager, consumer products practice, Kline & Company.

According to Kline’s analysis, marketers’ attention has shifted slightly from products like diffusers to car-interior fresheners—and that may be behind the latter category’s recent sales surge.

For the 52 weeks ended July 8, sales of automobile air fresheners in FMDx outlets rose an impressive 33% to $58.2 million, according to SymphonyIRI Group. And while category leader Little Trees (manufactured by Watertown, NY-based Car-Freshener Corp) recorded a 12.16% gain in sales to just over $13 million, P&G’s new Febreze Car Vent Clips—which rolled out in early 2012—helped the brand quickly rise to the No.2 spot, tallying sales of $12.5 million.

I’m Melting…
While automobile air fresheners appear to be in high gear, there’s yet another fast growing sector: wax melts. It’s a category that’s far from new, but nonetheless seems to have captured homeowners’ attention in 2011 and 2012.

The groundswell behind wax melts is an interesting turn in the market, according to Doskow.

“A wax melt is the type of product that demands a high-involvement on behalf of the consumer, and products requiring additional effort tend to see a pattern of declining sales. This trend was seen in candles a few years ago when consumers switched to products such as plug-in or reed diffusers,” she said.

Scentsy’s Riga, is a new full-size warmer from this fast-growing home fragrance firm.
The hottest player in today’s wax melt space is Scentsy, which has achieved revenue growth in the high triple-digits each year since the company’s founding, and in July ranked No. 27 in Happi’s annual Top 50 Report. This Meridian, ID-based firm is currently constructing a new office tower and has hired more than 100 new employees since the beginning of the year.

Cory Pugh, chief marketing officer for Scentsy, points to quality and selection as primary drivers behind the company company’s expansion.

“We believe Scentsy’s fragrance quality and great selection set us apart from our competitors. Scentsy Bars hold more fragrance oil than most traditional candles, resulting in a superior scent throw,” he said.
According to Pugh, one Scentsy Bar can contain up to 80 fragrance notes, “delivering a fragrance experience that is unmatched. The quality and broad appeal of our fragrances, combined with the simplicity and ease of a Scentsy Warmer, create a successful user experience.”

For Fall, Scentsy’s newest Warmers include Castille and Riga, both of which are full-sized, and Tilia, a mid-size warmer, and it has rolled out six new fragrances—Caramel Pear Crisp, French Toast, Dulche de Leche, Frosted Ginger Cookie, Apple Press and Buckleberry.

“We’re especially proud of Apple Press and its fresh, bold and natural-smelling fragrance, which is challenging to deliver without the ‘plastic’ or ‘candied’ notes common in many competitive apple fragrances,” said Pugh.

Plus, the company is pushing ahead with unique offerings, like a singular fragrance note of the year, which for 2012 is Pink Pepper.

“When added to existing Scentsy fragrances, Pink Pepper adds depth and character while it stimulates the senses,” according to Pugh.

According to Kline’s Doskow, Scentsy’s success with wax melts should spur activity elsewhere.

“Marketers, in general, are always looking for the next new thing where they will be able to play and repeat,” she said, noting that Walmart offers a wax melt within its Better Homes & Garden’s brand of home goods products.

“It is clearly moving from one channel to another,” she said.

Colonial Candle is adding to its wax melt stable too, with new electric Simmer Snap Warmers. The warmers come in Colonial Candle’s signature oval shape and work with the company’s Simmer Snaps wax melts, which were redesigned to match the brand’s signature (and trademarked) oval shape.

“These are great for those who love candle fragrances, but can’t burn candles,” explained Beth Sturm, director of brand development at Colonial Candles.

But flame-wary consumers have another option. Earlier this year Energizer rolled out wax candles that deliver the visual and olfactory experience of a scented candle, but without the flame. Featuring advanced LED technology, Energizer Flameless Wax Candle Collections come in traditional size pillars, a broad range of colors and scents (Biscotti, Sweet Basil and Eucalyptus Mint are some) as well as votives—just like the real McCoy. The battery-operated candles use a 4-hour timer that automatically turns on every 24 hours.

Monitoring what consumers want—and may want next—is a must for environmental fragrance specialists. Everything from home décor to food to travel plays muse for the next big thing.

Currently, US consumers are still hungry for gourmand notes, according to experts Happi interviewed.
“We noticed a trend shaping in edible fragrances influenced by gourmet food and beverages,” said Sturm.

Colonial Candle’s new Fall fragrances include gourmand inspired scents.
Colonial Candle, which is part of MVP Group, has rolled out new gourmand influenced products for both Fall and Holiday 2012, including Autumn Spice Tea, Maple Butterscotch, Pumpkin Coconut Torte and Turbinado & Cream.

At Yankee Candle, which has always seen itself as the trendsetter in the premium space, the focus has been on creating limited edition ranges, the most recent of which is the Numerical Coconut Collection. It is said to bring together two growing trends—the popularity of coconut as a fragrance and a flavor as well as the iconic home decor trend of numbering—in one contemporary line.The collection features five fragrances in large tumblers as well as novelty filled canisters and coordinating accessories.

A limited edition strategy is proving fruitful, according to Hope Margala Klein, vice president brand and wholesale marketing, Yankee Candle.

“They encourage collectability,” she told Happi, noting that another limited edition line, Yankee Candle’s Man Candle collection, was a “resounding success…It generated a lot of buzz and some respectable sales.”

Home for the Holidays
Having proved a hit with customers, Margala Klein said Yankee Candle will bring the Man Candle range and its masculine themed scents such as cut wood (2x4) and grass (Riding Mower) back to stores in time for holiday. That’s a critical time of year for home fragrance—for candle markers and retailers as well as for consumers who look to home fragrance to create ambiance.

“Home fragrance continues to be a healthy market as consumers want to have products in their homes that evoke certain emotions and feelings,” said Sturm of Colonial Candle, which as this issue went to press was ready to cut the ribbon on a new flagship store in Charleston, SC. (For closer look at this new retail space, see “Reigniting The Fire” at www.happi.com.)

The nostalgic nature of the season is evident by sales of perennial favorites.

“For holiday, we always know our signature fragrance, Holiday Sparkle, will be a best seller.It’s one of our oldest, tried-and-true fragrances in the line and a fan favorite all year,” noted Sturm.

One new scent that Yankee Candle execs are keeping an eye on this Fall is peppermint bark, part of a trio of new gourmand inspired offerings for the holiday season. It joins Red Velvet and Pinecone and Lime, the latter of which Margala Klein described as a new twist on the venerable fir tree accord.

Other holiday rollouts from Yankee Candle include new SKUs in the company’s popular Favorite Things range—Brown Paper Packages, Whiskers on Kittens and Schnitzel with Noodles—and All That Glitters, a limited-edition collection of white candles with some bling (namely a bit of gold). The design is somewhat of a departure from the standard Yankee Candle look, but follows in lockstep with the brand’s greater emphasis on home décor.

Over at Scentsy, new holiday warmers include Tis the Season and Joy to the World and new fragrances include Buckleberry, Dulce De Leche, Frosted Ginger Cookie and Iced Pine.

From candle maker The Soi Company come several new seasonal themed scents too—Cashmere Woods, Crushed Velvet, Brushed Satin, Winter White and Sugar Plums. And like all Soi Company candles, the holiday SKUs do double duty: once the soy oil has melted, itcan be used as a naturalskin moisturizer, according to the company.

There are new holiday options in mass too. Febreze is rolling out new limited edition scents for holiday in Winter Magic & Glow and Holiday Bloom & Cheer. These two new offerings join Cranberries & Frost and Glistening Alpine scents, and are available across the wide range of Febreze products including candles, Set & Refresh, Noticeables and the fabric refresher.

At SC Johnson, holiday scents for Glade Holiday Plugins scented oils and warmers will be offered in Shimmering Spruce, Nutcracker Crunch, Apple Cinnamon and Frosted Cookies. These seasonal scents will also be offered in the Glade aerosol, according to the company.

Keepers of the Flame
The power of a great scent can trigger strong emotions, and ultimately that’s what draws fans to many environmental fragrance products in general.

And while in years past, consumers may have romanticized about the smell of mom’s sugar cookies baking in the oven—and bought a candle that threw a similar scent—could it be today’s younger homeowners wax poetic about the candle or reed diffuser itself just as much as the scent?

“This generation is the first to grow up with home fragrance in their home,” observed Margala Klein.
And even though homeowners have an extensive arsenal of environmental fragrance products at their disposal, one choice remains a favorite, according to the Yankee Candle executive.

“The truth is, she uses all forms to [fragrance her home]—but there is something about the candle that can’t be replaced,” Margala Klein said. “There is just something about the candle.”

Hanging AIR Fresheners GET IN THE “GAME”
• When it comes to hanging air fresheners, cool is hardly a word one would use to describe that iconic tiny tree or those cute cutouts that look like a candle Mom has in her kitchen. But Epic Scents, Danbury, CT, is out to make the car’s rearview mirror a bit more hip with Mega Man and Proto Man Scent Blasters, air fresheners with fragrances crafted to represent the characters for which they are named.

According to Jim Kavanaugh, project development, Epic Scent’s mission is to join the exciting graphics of the gaming industry with sophisticated fragrances.

“Combining our audience’s passion for gaming with their passion for fragrance offers them a new way to experience their favorite characters,” he said. “Gamers—myself included—love to collect and display merchandise on their computer desk, mantle, office, and throughout their home…We see a lot of expensive action figures, models, and other gaming merchandise on the market, but there is very little high quality, inexpensive, point of purchase merchandise that fans can purchase and be proud of.”

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