The O Factor

By Christine Esposito , Associate Editor | January 21, 2013

Olfactory, that is. Performance is job one in household care, however the fragrance must hit the right note with consumers.

What is the smell of “clean” in 2013? The American consumer, for the most part, has a much more complex lifestyle—and palette—than she did 50 years ago, when Happi published its first issue. Back then, maybe it was smell of bleach, pine or lemon that connoted a clean home as father returned after a long day at work and mother was busy pouring him a drink after having just popped a meatloaf in the oven.

Today’s mom is more likely to have whipped up fajitas (via the stove or curbside takeout window) after a whirlwind day at the office and carpooling kids around after school to soccer and saxophone practice. She didn’t have time to clean the bathroom but maybe the fresh scent of her daily shower cleaning spray is lingering still. The convenience of that product helps keep her home tidy without too much time invested, and the scent, hopefully, reinforces the message that her home is clean.

There is “a halo of health and safety” which the right fragrance can deliver in household care, according to Pam Helms, chief innovation officer at Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, which has since its inception been focused on delivering great fragrances to its customers.

Basil is a long-standing scent for Mrs. Meyers Clean Day, while Honeysuckle is new. The latter, which had been a seasonal scent, is now part of the permanent rotation.
“Bringing exceptional fragrance experiences to cleaning is a foundation of our company. Why should consumers have any less of a lovely feeling than they do with their personal care products? Home is an extension of the consumer and a sensorial delight lingering around after words is powerful for them and visitors,” she told Happi in a phone interview.

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day has a wide range of fragrances to deliver on that promise. Its fragrance lineup includes basil, lavender and lemon verbena, as well as geranium, rosemary, parsley and bluebell, to name just a few. The firm also rolls out plenty of seasonal scents, like Iowa pine and orange clove, which customers want to purchase year-round.

“We get consumers writing in all year long asking for them,” but it is nice to have something to look forward to,” said Helms.

Still, Mrs. Meyer’s hasn’t always said no. In fact, one of its newest fragrances, honeysuckle, was initially a seasonal offering. The company received so much feedback on the scent, and since it “translated well year round,” honeysuckle, which features top notes of honeysuckle, pineapple and apple, earned a spot on Mrs. Meyer’s permanent roster.

Expanding the Collection
Household care marketers and fragrance houses are constantly looking for new scents to add to their collection. And while the American olfactory palette is more complex today, not every fragrance trend translates to home cleaning and household care.

“Some scent trends don’t work,” admitted Helms. For example, gourmand scents, which work well in a pure air care format, may not translate well into dish care, bathroom cleaner or fabric care.

“The popular gourmand fragrances incorporating edible notes of chocolate, vanilla and cotton candy do not seem to be the right experience for household laundry products as they are considered too heavy,” said well-known fragrance expert Sue Phillips. “Consumers equate household products with lighter scents and therefore heavier robust edible ingredients have not been as apparent in this category. It goes back to consumers wanting lighter scents to reflect cleanliness and freshness.”

“From a technical perspective, some fragrance types naturally work better in some products than others, but one must also take into account the context of usage of the product,” noted Jill Costa, director of fragrance R&D at Bell Flavors and Fragrances, Northbrook, IL. “For example, a lemon dish detergent smells fresh and clean coming out of the warm wash water but in candles this fresh and clean smell is often ‘hidden’ or not perceived to be as strong, just due to the technical nature of the product itself and its usage—however in either case the odor character may be appropriate for the product.”

But on the other hand, Costa said that while having a fresh aldehydic floral in a laundry detergent may connote fresh and clean, that same fragrance in a kitchen spray may “seem far too perfume-y and not exactly appropriate…The relevance of fragrance characters in the context of use is very important.”

New and Nose-worthy
Still, companies are pushing those boundaries.

“In 2012 we saw robust consumer demand for increasingly sophisticated, longer lasting and highly diffusive fragrances in nearly every category from household cleaners to laundry to air care. It used to be that everyone wanted traditional scents, but now consumers want a whole experience when they’re doing their laundry or washing their floors,” said Joe Lattarulo, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Robertet, Oakland, NJ.

“Companies that are trend setters are the ones who take a risk for their customers to try something new,” noted Jeena James, marketing coordinator at Bell Fragrances.

For example, Method’s seasonal collection for Holiday 2012 featured gourmand-inspired scents like gingerbread and sugared mint, and the company included the latter in its dish soap.

Method’s been “serious about cleaning, but irreverent in its approach to positioning, product names and brand voice,” said Lattarulo. “It allows the customer to enjoy himself, not only from a olfactory standpoint, but also from an eco-friendly approach. It demonstrates that cleaning can be fun, and not such a bore.”

Selena Wagstaff, marketing manager with UK-based CPL Aromas, pointed to new Fresh Infusions from Palmolive as another example of the growing sophistication in the mass market household care category.

New Palmolive Fresh Infusions Dish Liquid features naturally inspired fragrances.
Palmolive Fresh Infusions Dish Liquid blends “premium design with naturally inspired fragrances” to help enhance the overall look and feel of the kitchen, according to Colgate. The range, which is sold at Walmart and Target, comes in lime basil, lemon thyme, and ginger white tea.

“Brands know that one of the most important purchase drivers is the scent of a product, and in the endless quest to deliver newness, they are increasing the complexity of the fragrances in their portfolio,” said Lattarulo.

Wagstaff echoed that statement. “We have witnessed a trend for more sophisticated fragrances within the household market over the last few years. In the past, household fragrances have been quite simple and basic but now we see interesting fragrance combination and influences from the fine fragrance market trickling down into laundry, air care and even dish care,” she said.

According to Wagstaff , while laundry care products are typically very light and clean with musky notes, more complex, premium fragrance styles have been making their way into the space.

Phillips—who was enlisted by P&G’s Downy to educate consumers about the power of a perfect fragrance—said she’s seeing household products makers combining spicy notes with citrus “to give a more complex and luxurious scent experience to clothing.”

Downy Infusions in new Honey Flower delivers a sheer floral bouquet of creamy jasmine, lily of the valley and sweet rose to laundry.
A prime example is new Downy Infusions, which offers new Honey Flower, a sheer floral bouquet of creamy jasmine, lily-of-the-valley and sweet rose. The Downy Infusions range, which also includes Lavender Serenity, Orchid Allure, Spice Blossom, Citrus Spice and Sage Jasmine scents can be used with Downy Unstopables wash scent booster to deliver a multi-layered scent experience that lasts longer than using either enhancer alone.

“Many of these complex ingredients are usually found in the fine fragrance arena. Finally! The opportunity to select some favorite ingredients to make your laundry smell wonderful,” Phillips told Happi.

To achieve this, P&G needed to marry the art of scent development with the technical aspects of fabric science.

“There is always a functional challenge in working at laundry scent—the scent needs to smell good but usually needs to linger on fabrics, hard surfaces or in the air to deliver the benefit at precisely the moment the consumer most appreciates it,” said Mark Haward, perfumer/section head P&G flavor and fragrance.
“There are certain blends of materials that perfumers can use which they know from experience or from technical models perform well against these technical challenges. There are also technologies available which help perfumes deposit and then release from fabrics which are widely used today—so delivering a great experience is really a fusion of art and science.”

A Scent of One’s Own
An experiential scent—in a dish wash or laundry aid—helps companies connect with consumers who are constantly looking for new ways to express their individuality.

“The idea of customization is an emerging trend due to the consumers wanting to reflect their own unique individuality and personality. It is happening in so many categories—custom t-shirts, tote bags and even in the household arena,” noted Phillips.

“Fragrance is unique to each person. Depending on the day, the situation and other influences people desire to change their fragrances based on moods,” saidJames of Bell. “Most don’t wear the fragrance they may wear to work to an event in the evening or on the weekend. In the same respect, most people tend to use different products that contain a different fragrance depending on the situation. Some may stick to a traditional fragrance with notes such as vanilla when their mother-in-law is due for a visit, but during a party with friends and cocktails they may switch things up and use a fragrance with notes highlighting ylang ylang and juniper berries.”

Incorporating a great scent that allows consumers to set—or get in—the right mood has become a must in the household care space.

“The fine fragrance and personal care categories have been highly influential on household fragrances for years, and we see that effect intensifying across all of the mainstream household brands,” said Lattarulo of Robertet. “Here in the US, the consumer expects to see exotic fragrance infusions in their fabric softeners, candles and all-purpose cleaners.”

According to Lattarulo, while traditional citrus and pine are still prominent in the household sector, today’s versions are more faceted, sophisticated and often constructed much more like a fine fragrance than in the past.

Along that same vein, Bell predicts when it comes to fragrance trends, putting a new spin on the tried and true will be big in 2013. (To read more about the top trends for 2013 as predicted by Bell, see the sidebar below.)

“We will always have traditional fragrance families defining the household fragrance trends, such as citrus and herbal, and now these are becoming more sophisticated with fragrance notes such as tangerine, mandarin and bergamot alongside interesting herbs and exotic flowers,” said Wagstaff of CPL.

The more unique accords will be selling points.

“As more consumers fall in love with these types of complex, unique fragrances, we will see key ingredient call outs such as pear and ginger,” said Lattarulo, noting the role the fragrance name can play.

“Just as fine fragrances incorporate texture into their names, like Donna Karan’s popular ‘Cashmere Mist,’ so are cleaners. Names conveying texture help win over shoppers and add a whiff of sophistication.”

In the end, the scent itself must connect with the household care consumer on an emotional level.
“Our strongest sense after sight is our sense of smell, which also triggers memories and emotions,” said Phillips.“By incorporating new, intriguing combinations of ingredients into household products, the consumer has better appreciation of scent and a greater positive experience.”
Scent Trends for 2013
Bell Flavors & Fragrances has complied its 2013 Top Flavor & Fragrance Trends. Here’s a look at what Bell’s perfumers have identified in fragrance arena:

The 1920s A trend inspired by the classic book and upcoming movie, “The Great Gatsby,” which is due out this year. Bell has taken note and followed suit as many in fashion are using this trend to capture the era and showcase their own take on it. According to Jeena James, marketing coordinator, Bell’s perfumers grabbed this era by its tailcoat and grasped inspiration from every possible avenue such as the flowers, cocktails, fashion and the colors of the time. Fragrances include Golden Mist, Lovers Tryst and Dusk to Dawn in-home air care and Ocean City Blue, Sassy Bellini and Ripple Falls in hair care.

Resort Retreat This trend allows people to focus on what is important, such as family, friends and a slow-paced life. The fragrances reflect the feeling one has when in that special corner of their home or relaxing on a weekend retreat. Fragrances include Quiet Moments, Housetop Haven and Plush Hideaway in home air care.

Outdated to Updated This trend studies long-standing traditions and tendencies as inspiration for the reinvention of traditional fragrances.

“To have a vision to modernize things that may be considered old is the tool and drive our perfumers took, taking things of the past that may be considered outdated and putting a twist of Bell and updating it to the potential we know and believe that it has,” said James. Fragrances include Pearadise, Sunrise and Coral Spice in hair care.

Past-Present-Future This celebrates days gone by, of being in the moment, and looking to the future to create fragrances that are continually changing. Fragrances include Brazilian Blue, Sizzle, Electric Lime, Frosted Palms, Midsummer Magic and Oooh, Ahhh in bath care.

More info: www.bellff.com