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Automotive Air Freshener Market Update

Febreze and Little Trees dominate at mass, but new players are entering the category. Circana data reveals brands making the fastest gains.

According to industry estimates, the used car market in the US is on pace to finish the year on par or slightly above the 36.2 million cars sold in 2022, as reported by Cox Automotive.

As these vehicles roll out with a new face behind the wheel, there’s an opportunity for home fragrance brands to cash in. An air freshener can help a previously owned car smell like new—or maybe vanilla musk, ocean breeze, eucalyptus or any scent instead of the previous owner! 

Stoner's Little Joe air freshener.
Today, car air fresheners are likely to be used to elevate one’s experience as much as mask odor. As such, fragrances are much more dynamic. There’s a wider range of sophisticated and lifestyle-oriented products available to today’s vehicle owners. 

The market is dominated by two well-known names—Procter & Gamble’s Febreze and the iconic Little Trees brand. Together, they account for nearly 65% of segment sales.

But there are smaller players moving at rapid speeds. Energizer, Axe, Funkaway and Stoner Automobile were standouts in terms of growth, posting impressive triple-digit gains in both revenue and units, according to recent data from Circana (see below).

New Competition in Car Air Fresheners

What’s more, newer brands are moving into the category, offering subscription models and high-tech products.

Scentbird, for example, launched Car Scent Club—a subscription model created in collaboration with Drift, which it acquired Q4 of 2022. Drift, which offers car air fresheners in three formats—wood, stone or metal—debuted in 2016 as an alternative to what founders Ryan Baylis and Christian Thrapp considered to be a sea of tacky options in the category. Drift offers scents like Amber (notes of fresh rain, amber and lavender), Teak (teakwood, musk and pepper) and Grove (citrus, mountain greens and vanilla), to name just a few.

ScentAir, a fast-growing home fragrance company based in Charlotte, NC, entered the car category, too. Earlier this year, the privately held player added seven new auto scents: Golden Bamboo, White Tea & Thyme, Santal & Red Cedar, Asian Garden, Patchouli Blanc, Green Clover & Aloe and Eucalyptus Mint.

“There's nothing better than enjoying your signature fragrance no matter where you are,” said ScentAir's Director of Global Marketing Evin Ellis. “We're making it easy for ScentAir fans to enjoy the simple pleasure of a consistent fragrance experience. We knew that auto fragrance…were the perfect next steps for our line because they fill areas of customer need. Our customers have been asking for on-the-go fragrance options and easy, instant solutions.”

Philips OlfaPure 7300
Smart fragrance company Pura, Salt Lake City, UT, also touts a new car fragrance diffuser. The company says the compact and sleek smart device has magnetic capabilities so users can mount the device anywhere in their vehicle. It also features motion detection that powers on when movement is sensed and powers off when no movement is detected. The device is also Bluetooth-enabled and comes with interchangeable fragrances. Scent options range from Coastal Palm (ocean mist, plumeri and driftwood) to Fairway Morning (morning dew, sandalwood and fresh-cut grass).

More recentely, Lumileds, a leading lighting solutions company, introduced the Philips OlfaPure 7300, an app-controlled car aroma diffuser that it says allows drivers and passengers to relax, stay alert, reduce motion sickness or refresh the air inside their vehicle by choosing from a broad selection of French-designed fragrances.

Lumileds says the Philips OlfaPure 7300 employs an advanced spatial algorithm to control the aroma diffusion to avoid nose blindness.  There are 10 different aromas to improve the driving experience, including three functional scents and seven mood scents. The functional scents include: Odor Removal, Motion Sickness and Anti-V, which is said to neutralize microbes. The mood scents include Black Cherry, Jasmin, Citrus Garden, Lavender, Orchard, Solarium and Ocean Bliss.

Market Data for Car Air Fresheners

Below is a detailed look at automobile air fresheners market in total US multi outlets (with c-store (grocery, drug, mass market, convenience, military and select club and dollar retailers) for the 52 weeks ended July 16, 2023, according to Circana.

(% Chg. YA)

Dollar Share
(% Chg. YA).
(% Chg. YA)
per Unit
(% Chg. YA)
Automobile Air Fresheners $586,373,737 (1.4%)   157,449,867 (-7.4%) $3.72 (9.5%)  
Febreze $219,738,238 (2.1%) 37.47 (0.25) 38,236,818 (-8.3%) $5.75 (11.3%) Procter & Gamble
Little Trees $218,524,792 (4.9%) 37.27 (1.22) 82,696,383 (-3.3%) $2.64 (8.4%) Car Freshener Corp.
Refresh $31,366,391 (-16.9%) 5.35 (-1.18) 9,532,685 (-28.5%) 3.29 (16.2%) Energizer Holdings
Yankee Candle $28,206,673 (-6.9%) 4.81 (-0.43) 5,034,098 (-12.6%) $5.60  (6.5%) Yankee Candle Corp.
California Scents  $19,533,941 (-5.4%) 3.33 (-0.24) 6,456,763 (-11.5%) $3.03 (7.0%) Energizer Holdings
Energizer Axe $12,165,012 (139.3%) 2.07 (1.20) 2,698,554 (100.3%) $4.51  (19.5%) Energizer Holdings
Car Freshener $9,829,938 (1.5%) 1.68 (0.00) 3,165,016 (-6.9%) $3.11 (9.0%) Car Freshener Corp.
Armor All  $7,975,203 (-2.5%) 1.36 (-0.06) 1,301,182 (-17.3%) $6.13 (17.9%) The Armor All STP Prod. Co.  
Blunt Effects $7,140,467 (0.5%) 1.22 (-0.01) 1,636,703 (-1.8%) $4.36 (2.3%) Passion Dior
Meguiars $6,670,621 (-8.2%) 1.14 (-0.12) 833,329 (-22.2%) 8.00 (17.9%) Meguiars Inc.
Hopkins $2,910,112 (25.0%) 0.50 (0.09) 660,571 (25.1%) $4.41 (-0.1%) Hopkins Mfg Corp. 
Enviroscent  $2,747,048 (-28.8%) 0.47 (-0.20) 765,915 (-30.7%) $3.59 (2.8%) Enviroscent Inc. 
Woodwick $2,196,234 (30.0%) 0.37 (0.08) 247,810 (5.9%) $8.86 (22.8%) Smith Mountain
Ozium $1,914,063 (-4.1%) 0.33 (-0.02) 350,091 (-18.0%) $5.47 (16.9%) Niteo Pr
Private Label $1,757,633 (10.2%) 0.30 (0.02) 502,689 (16.3%) $3.50 (-5.3%)  
Citrus $1,691,505 (-29.9%) 0.29 (-0.13) 409,698 (-31.5%) $4.13 (2.4%) Beaumont Prods.
Chemical Guys $1,499,264 (56.2%) 0.26 (0.09) 138,802 (43.9%) $10.80 (8.5%) Chemical Guys
Funkaway $1,119,855 (414.9%) 0.19 (0.15) 168,521 (424.3%) $6.65 (-1.8%) B2Z Products
Glade $1,058,240 (-43.0%) 0.18 (-0.14) 285,444 (-47.4%) $3.71 (8.4%) SC Johnson
 Stoner $1,047,349 (168.7%) 0.18 (0.11) 279,086 (168.6%) $3.75 (0.0%) Stoner

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