In fact, when it comes to the scents consumers want in their household products, they can vary from room to room and task to task. For example, Kathy F., a young suburban mom with four kids in Cranford, NJ, opts for Seventh Generation’s fragrance-free for laundry and dishes, but loves a scented Thieves hand soap in the kitchen. Phyllis H., an empty nester across town associates the smell of ammonia and bleach (of course, not together!) with cleaning, while her neighbor Melissa D. swaps her Mrs. Meyer’s products in and out with the season.
Today’s cleaning product manufacturers are serving a population that’s growing more diverse, adventurous and open to new scents. And while there are general categories in which most household cleaning fragrances fall, citrus, pine, floral, for example, nuances matter and variations on those themes help brands differentiate themselves. But what might work for an upscale cleaning brand sold online may not be as successful for that supermarket stalwart. The key is aligning current olfactory trends to a brand’s ethos and the customer’s comfort level. The end game is a great scent that can enhance the experience and help elevate often-mundane housekeeping tasks, like washing dishes by hand.
Scrub Daddy, a sponge brand that shot to fame after its 2012 appearance on Shark Tank, takes that to heart. This past summer, the company teamed up with a fitting partner in a licensing deal covering cleaning products. Scrub Daddy and Nickelodeon collaborated on a SpongeBob SquarePants Scrub Daddy that channels the iconic animated series right down to a “Pineapple Under-the-Sea” scent that is reminiscent of SpongeBob’s pineapple home in Bikini Bottom.
The new SKU, which debuted last spring, smells like piña colada and was wildly successfully and sold out quickly on QVC. That, however, left no inventory for other retailers, explained founder and CEO Aaron Krause. According Krause, his Folcroft, PA-based company works with a single factory in Germany which manufactures a proprietary material called FlexTexture foam that makes Scrub Daddy products unmatched in the cleaning category. Scrub Daddy cuts the specialty shapes, packages and ships from the US. When Happi spoke with Krause last month, Scrub Daddy SpongeBob stock was moving into brick and mortar retailers like Kroger and HEB.
According to Krause, one of the unique attributes of the proprietary material is that it never retains odor.
“They rinse clean,” Krause said, noting that the material remains clear of foul odors for up to two months.
Even with that benefit over traditional sponges, Krause said he wondered if Scrub Daddy could be “even better if smelled good.” To that end, he developed and rolled out his first fragranced SKU—a lemon-scented Scrub Daddy—in 2013. The scent, he said, is “locked” into the structure of the material during the manufacturing process.
There are more scented products to come. Next month, look out for Scrub Daddy, Scrub Mommy and Scour Daddy products with scents that correspond to their respective color—think orange, lemon and lime—as well as scented Scrub Daisy (designed for special cleaning tasks like washing reusable water bottles) and Scrub Daddy Power Flower, a sister product it sells via HSN.
“The category has been mundane, boring and utilitarian for too long. Our goal is to make it fun, cute and useful,” Krause said.
Other like-minded entrepreneurs take just as much interest in developing their household cleaning products. Take Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer, the founders of Beekman 1802, who recently rolled out Happy Place cleaning products. In the same vein as their other products, the duo followed the same formulation philosophy when it came to cleaning products, namely using botanical-based ingredients and goat milk. Available online since August, some of the most popular products in the home care range are Happy Place Multi Surface Wipes, Happy Place Sweet Grass Goat Milk Laundry Soap and Happy Place Essential Oil. The full line also includes glass, floor and upholstery cleaners, tub and tile cleaner, stain sticks, dryer balls and a waterless dog wash.
“It took us over two years to perfect the line. We knew we wanted to use natural ingredients, but that the market was full of ‘natural ingredient’ cleaning lines. So, what was going to make us different? Staying true to the brand and including goat milk soap, which makes all the difference,” noted the duo in a statement.
As for Happy Place fragrances, Ridge and Kilmer opted for “Pure” scent, noting that unscented is consistently their brand’s most popular scent. In addition, they chose Sweet Grass, which they described as the “subtle scent of a summer breeze through an open window.”
Earth Friendly Products, the company behind Ecos Laundry Detergent and other environmentally friendly cleaning products, last year added new products, including a new suite of room sprays made with signature essential oil blends. According to the Cypress, CA-based company, EcosBreeze Room Sprays are “scent-inspired” propellant-free fragrances in Magnolia & Lily (Fun), Honeydew (Bold), Parsley (Bright), Bamboo & Lemon (True) and Lavender Vanilla (Chill). The brand also rolled out EcosBreeze Fabric & Carpet Odor Eliminator in signature scents of Lavender Vanilla, Magnolia & Lily, and Lemongrass.
A leader in home care with its workhorse Suavitel and Fabuloso brands, Colgate-Palmolive has long recognized the time and effort it takes to maintain a home. In fact, according to the CPG giant, the average American spends more than 11 hours every week on housework. New Suavitel and Fabuloso products have been designed to simplify those routines by delivering multiple benefits and great fragrance, too, according to the company.
Suavitel Complete, which provides advanced softening, long-lasting color protection and fewer wrinkles, comes in two scent options: Field Flowers and Morning Sun. Colgate contends Fabuloso Complete delivers an even deeper clean for most home surfaces with the “uplifting fragrance that people expect from Fabuloso.” This new formulation comes in Floral Burst and Cool Mist scents.
The launch pad at Procter & Gamble’s high-profile Febreze has been active, too. Last year saw the introduction of Febreze Blood Orange & Spritz, and two new scents under the Febreze One umbrella—Lemongrass & Ginger and Peppermint & Rosemary, which are available across its candle, fabric refresher and wax melts formats.
“Febreze with OdorClear is our toughest and most effective odor cleaning product ever. As such, Febreze with OdorClear technology seeks out and cleans away odors for good—then leaves behind a long-lasting light, fresh scent. We are continually resetting the bar to ensure we are bringing consumers the best odor-elimination product on the market,” noted Mandy Ciccarella, P&G communications manager.
While the P&G brand adds new variants, consumers have favorites, with Febreze Meadows & Rain, Febreze Linen & Sky and Febreze Gain Original Scent and Febreze Hawaiian Aloha among them, according to Ciccarella.
Febreze is also on the move, literally, with Febreze One Car. An Aqua scent was added 2018, and this year look for Old Spice and Platinum Ice scent options as P&G’s iconic male grooming brand expands into a new area.
Whether it is at home doing chores or in the car stuck in traffic, places where consumers spend too much of their valuable time, brands are using scent to help make the experience a bit more bearable.