IF THE EYES are the window to the soul, the nose might just be the pathway to a consumer's wallet. Few can resist a product that smells good. Consequently, the environmental fragrances market has progressed in leaps and bounds during the past decade. Consumers are looking for fragrances to create an ambiance and ultimately individualize their homes. Despite the continued success, however, home fragrance market-growth may be slowing.
According to Kalorama Information, a New York City-based market research firm, sales growth is projected to slow down in the coming years. The environmental fragrance sector includes potpourri, scented oils, scented candles, sachets, incenses, aromatherapy and pomanders. Although the market remains strong, annual sales growth is expected to dip from 15% in 1995 to 11% in 2004.
Last year, mass market environmental fragrance sales totalled $1.27 billion. Scented candles alone account for 75% of environmental fragrance dollars and 40-50% of home fragrance sales, according to Kalorama Information.
"We seem to be moving toward a more fragranced lifestyle," said Lynn Dornblaser, editorial director of Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD). She noted that most household products such as laundry detergents, fabric softeners, cleaners and polishes and insecticides are now available in a variety of scents. "More and more consumer products out there have some sort of fragrance to them. Perfumes too are getting more assertive," she said.
A major split, according to GNPD, exists in the environmental fragrance category: air care products which mask the offensive odor with a more pleasant scent and products that allegedly neutralize odors without imparting their own odor. Air care and household product fragrances tend to be either outdoors or fruit scents. Lemon is a particularly popular fruit-derived scent, according to Ms. Dornblaser.
Candles, though, appear to be the preferred way of creating ambiance in the home.
Blyth Inc., with 1999 sales of $1.1 billion, is one of the largest players in the upscale candle category. Company executives expect double-digit growth for next year, following a 25% net sales increase last year. Blyth's candle and potpourri brands include Colonial Candle of Cape Cod, Caroline Designs, PartyLite and Candle Corporation of America.
"Customers are attracted to this market for several reasons, both inner-and outer-directed," said Kimberli Beck, vice president of marketing, Endar, a subsidiary of Blyth, Inc. "Fragrance serves multiple purposes such as enhancing, enchanting, setting moods and/or masking odors; it may be an indulgent reward or a gift: for others. Today, candles have become a part of everyday life."
In the past year, Endar introduced several lines of highly fragranced candies, including Mom's Kitchen fragrances, Home Sentiments and Indulgences with scents such as chocolate cake, cinnamon rolls, blueberry pie, apple crisp, sugar cookie, lemon meringue, clarity, solitude and tranquility. Prices range from 99 cents for a votive candle to $17.95 for a filled glass column candle.
Several markets influence the creation of new home fragrance products, according to Ms. Beck. These include the textile, architectural, furniture and floral industries.
"Most importantly, we communicate with fragrance houses, a main avenue through which we determine the latest trends and interests in new fragrances," said Ms. Beck. "Inspiration for new scents is marketing driven, customer driven and consumer driven."
Smaller candle makers are also finding success in the market. Belae Brands, with sales of $75 million, is growing more than 10% a year, according to company executives. Growth is primarily due to product innovation. Belae Brands' major home fragrance brands include Picket Fence, Claire Burke and Waverly.
"We try to develop fragrances that evoke an emotional response from the consumer," said Carlton Hawkins, vice president marketing, Belae Brands Inc. home fragrance brands. "Fragrance is such a huge part of our memory and our life."
This spring, Belae Brands introduced wildflower glen and morning mist under the Claire Burke line. For fall, the Claire Burke line has introduced gingerbread creme and autumn leaves scents. The company also introduced The Sea in April 2000 as a new everyday line for Claire Burke. The line includes potpourri ($12), vapourri ($8.50), refresher oil ($6.50), candles $6-$30), linen sprays ($8.50) and gel fragrancers ($15).
"Environmental fragrances have the ability to decorate your home with fragrance and set a mood," explained Mr. Hawkins. "People are enjoying their houses even more today and love to feel the comfort and warmth of our products. It is a `Home as my Haven' trend, which is a totally different experience than the old problem-solution air fresheners."
Banking on Prestige
Intimate Brands Inc., the company behind Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works (BBW) and White Barn Candle Company, is also on the forefront of home fragrance creation. Already successful White Barn Candle Company, a spin-off of BBW, began operating independent stores last year. By year-end, the company expects to have 125 White Barn Candle Company stores, and within the next three years, plans to have a total of 275.
"White Barn Candle Company began as a sub-brand in Bath & Body Works-candles and home fragrances under the White Barn label, as a way to test the market potential for a separate business," Beth Pritchard, chairman and chief executive officer, Intimate Brands, explained in a statement. "And it worked."
White Barn Candle Company was one of Intimate Brands' initiatives to develop new business opportunities. Last year, BBW and White Barn generated home fragrance sales of nearly $185 million. According to Ms. Pritchard, sales will reach $275 million this year. Intimate Brands executives expect White Barn to fill a void for a unique home fragrance brand with strong positioning, consistent and continual innovation and unique selling ideas.
"We believe there can be a White Barn virtually anywhere there is a Bath & Body Works. With similar productivity, margin characteristics and potential sales growth, clearly it is a wonderful business," said Ms. Pritchard.
A Family Success
The No. 1 mass market candle maker, S.C. Johnson & Sons Inc., accounted for more than 43% of all mass market candle sales. The success was mostly due to its Glade brand, which also includes electric and non-electric air fresheners.
"From our days as a pioneer in aerosols to our breakthrough in water-based technology to revolutionizing the air care market, innovation drives our business success," said Therese Van Ryne, public relations coordinator, worldwide corporate public affairs, S.C. Johnson & Sons, Inc.
Though executives declined to discuss specifics, the company does project growth in the air care category for the coming year.
"The newest trends in environmental fragrances include aromatherapy along with floral, fruity and outdoor scents," said Ms. Van Ryne.
Some of the new candles introduced by S.C. Johnson during the past year include: lilac spring, waterfall, melon burst, honey suckle and pear. The candles typically retail for $2.49. S.C. Johnson's new air fresheners include rainshower, inspiring passion flower jasmine, mountain snow and melon burst. Prices range from 99 cents to $1.39.
For Every Body, Provo, UT, got its start as a bath and body product line, but it didn't take long for the company to expand into the candle category.
"Now the Home Baked candle line accounts for 60-70% of our sales," said Haley Warner, marketing director, For Every Body. "It has really taken over our bath and body line."
Recently, For Every Body introduced new gift sets and sizes such as a 16-oz. candle in glass. Additional scents are planned to launch in January.
"Our candles are a little different; candle companies today need to find a niche," said Ms. Warner. "For example in our Home Baked line, apple pie has apple chunks sticking out of it, strawberry cheesecake has wax strawberries, cinnamon roll has sprinkled wax cinnamon and sugar cookies has rainbow-colored sugar wax."
The most recent additions to the Home Baked candle line include pecan pie, carmel corn, cherry pie, carrot cake, strawberry cheesecake, key lime pie, banana bread and cappuccino.
"At candle trade shows, we basically see what we are doing--home-baked, smoothie-like and other twists on candles," said Ms. Warner.
When it comes time to develop new fragrance ideas, For Every Body takes a democratic approach. Owner Rebecca Lunceford invents new fragrances and introduces them to executives who vote on what stays. Ms. Lunceford focuses on what is not already available in the candle market. The results include innovative scents such as carrot cake and peanut butter cookie. Executives are also sure to stay with traditional favorites such as vanilla and sugar cookies.
Another popular favorite at For Every Body is the Layered candle line, which combines up to three colors and fragrances such as spiced apple, vanilla and tranquil nights in each candle.
"Everybody loves candles. They are really safe gifts, very giftable. They are perfect for teens, mothers, grandmothers and men. It is so universal. Everybody can use them for something," said Ms. Warner.
For Every Body is currently developing lotions and bath gels that mimic the fragrances of the candles, such as strawberry cheesecake. The company is always on the lookout for new ideas, especially from consumers.
Aroma Naturals Candles, an Irvine, CA-based candle company, is a crusader in promoting aromatherapy in candles, using only pure essential oils. Despite a variety of products available, candles are Aroma Naturals' best-selling products.
"Sales in that area (aromatherapy candles) have always been good and are now increasing dramatically," said Tina Rocca-Lundstrom, co-owner, Aroma Naturals Candles. "People who have tried and liked our products are now generating a re-order business. People enjoy the ambiance created by environmental fragrances," she added. "This stems from perfumeries that have gotten better and more creative. Aromatherapy too has had a strong influence on the industry, especially for people who want to create a mood or well-being in their environment."
Earth, Aroma Naturals' newest candle fragrance, combines ginger, patchouli, red cedar and clove in a sandstone color. Aroma Naturals also introduced Fruits Lumiere aromatherapy candles in January with the pure essences of fresh fruit.
Currently, Aroma Naturals also offers two citrus air fresheners, orange and lemon-lime essence.
"Our fresheners are a great alternative to synthetic bathroom sprays. They are non-toxic and you just need one spray because of their concentration," said Ms. Rocca-Lundstrom.
But Aroma Naturals does not take all the credit for the recent nontoxic air fresheners craze.
"Aveda really began the move away from synthetic air fresheners to natural aromatherapy products," explained Ms. Rocca-Lundstrom. "Many mass produced products don't contain natural oils but synthetic aromas. People who are attracted to aromatherapy tend to gravitate toward products that are better for the environment and better for the body."
The main problem with developing products that contain pure essential oils, however, is their high acidity.
"Essential oils eat through plastic, so we need to buy specific components to prevent this," explained Ms. Rocca-Lundstrom. "Also, other problems in the industry come from wicks being the wrong size for candles. It should all come down to quality control and quality manufacturing in small, hand-made batches."
In January, Aroma Naturals will expand its brand with a bath and body line which includes Everywhere room, linen and body sprays in addition to body lotions, bath gels, foaming milk bath, bath salts and salt/butter bath.
Aromatherapy, however, can also be distributed through sprays.
When it comes to aromatherapy, we've seen two U.S. products designed to be sprayed on pillows: sleep well mist for body and bed (Thymes Ltd., Minneapolis) and anti-stress pillow mist (Earth Therapeutics, Port Washington, NY)," said GNPD's Ms. Dornblaser. "Both are sprayed on the body or on the pillow to help induce a peaceful night's sleep."
Sleep well mist is sold in a glass-pump bottle. Both sleep well and antistress pillow mists contain herbal scents such as thyme, lavender (recognized for its sleep-inducing properties), sandalwood and cedar. A few aromatherapy products focus on energizing or revving the spirit up, but most seem to focus on relieving stress and inducing calm, she said.
"They're just the thing to enjoy on your pillow after a calming cup of herbal tea, a hot bath with soft music and your favorite jammies," said Ms. Dornblaser. "Perhaps it is a function of our hectic lifestyles," she suggested.
Air freshener sales are expected to increase only 0.9% in the next several years due to increased competition in the category, according to Kalorama Information. To remain successful, companies must update their line on a regular basis, according to industry experts.
"Constant fragrance introductions, and to a lesser extent new formats, help keep consumers coming back to the shelf," said Josh Shapiro, senior Wizard air fresheners brand manager, Reckitt Benckiser. "The sense of smell is such a powerful force that it is crucial to get a fragrance right before putting it on the market. Many people feel that scent is a reflection of themselves and their homes."
Wizard was the No. 2 brand in the mass market (behind Glade), last year. Wizard's sales rose less than 1% to $14.1 million according to Euromonitor International, Chicago.
Many household fragrances have crossed the line from being utilitarian cover-ups to atmosphere enhancers, according to Reckitt Benckiser executives. These fragrances both neutralize household odors and create ambience and feelings of calm and comfort.
During the past year, Wizard has introduced new candle and scented oil lines to its portfolio. Other Wizard products include Wizard aerosol spray, Stick-Ups small space air freshener and Love My Carpet rug and room deodorizer. New scents this year will include the upcoming bayberry pine and harvest spice scents for the holiday season.
Wizard Scented Oil is based on a European design. A warmer unit is plugged into an electrical outlet to heat a wick inside a fragrance bottle. The wick, in turn, heats the oil, carrying the fragrance through the room. The strength of the fragrance can be controlled using five adjustable fragrance-level settings.
"It works better than traditional air fresheners because of the combination of liquid and a small amount of heat," said Mr. Shapiro. "This provides a stronger and more consistent fragrance. Consumers can also adjust the level of fragrance depending on their personal preference and the size of the room."
Wizard Scented Oil is available in three new scents starting this month: crisp breeze, country berries, and white bouquet. Wizard Scented Oil also has a rotating plug to fit into both horizontal and vertical outlets, leaving the second outlet free. The starter kit includes a warmer unit and one bottle of scented oil ($2.99). Separate refills retail for $4.99.
"Before Scented Off, there was no effective way to keep the home smelling fresh all day, every day for many weeks. Sprays are for quick fixes; solids and gel plug-ins lose their scent before the product is gone and candles burn out quickly," said Melanie Sisson, associate brand manager, Wizard air fresheners. "It isn't always possible or practical to have a bouquet of fresh flowers or herbs on hand."
A major sales factor, inspirations for new scents, are as important as new fragrance delivery systems.
"Many fragrances that end up in air fresheners started as fine fragrances and trickled down to other products," noted Mr. Shapiro. "Other ideas come from high-end specialty or niche products that can work their way into more mass marketed products. Also, themes from nature or the home (cooking scents) are factored into these decisions. Another big trend is essential oils, which many believe has energizing or relaxing qualities."
Some new trends identified by fragrance developers include: sparkling citrus notes, ingredients from the garden (green tea, fig leaf and crisp vegetable notes), classic florals, single florals, fruity florals and spice and wood, said Mr. Shapiro.
Wizard introduced an air freshener in Mexico this year in a cedar and orange fragrance. This freshener, said to counter the effects of cigarette smoke, is available in aerosol, wick and liquid, candle and plug-in formats. Reckitt Benckiser also introduced Crysal'Air air wick to Belgium this year. Air wick is an air freshener gel packaged in a glass disk with a concentrated formula said to last four weeks in peach blossom, lavender and gardenia and raspberry blossom fragrances.
As the popularity of the market grows, environmental fragrances are becoming more complex.
"The most recent trend in terms of delivering fragrance has been in the gel candle arena," said Blyth's Ms. Beck. "Blyth has several other products in development, but details are considered proprietary information."
Penreco, a Houston, TX-based gel manufacturer, believes it takes more than the gels to make a candle special so it offers decorations such as color and glitter.
"One drawback to conventional candles is that the use of waxes necessitates that candles be opaque, thus limiting the ornamental use of candles with respect to embedded decorative features," said David Morrison, a senior research associate at Penreco.
Penreco has invented a way to show off embedded stars, glitter, sparkles and ribbons in candles through the company's patented Versagel C clear gel technology, a transparent gel particularly ideal for single or multi-colored jar candles. The composition uses a mixture of polymers in combination with hydrocarbon oils, preferably white mineral oil.
The Versagel C technology can create candles that are completely clear and colorless as well as candles that have deep color. The candles may have swirling colored layers. Bug repellent, colored flame additives and flame retardant can also be added to the gel.
Some of the newest air fresheners use electricity to delivery fragrance, such as Wizard' Scented Oil and White Barn Candle's Wallflowers wall plug home fragrance. Wallflower is 60-day fragrance oil diffuser plugged into an outlet to warm and release fragrance.
"I think BBW's Wallflowers is a great application of a new delivery system from Europe," said Belae Brand's Mr. Hawkins. "Not only is it effective but it is aesthetically pleasing. I think there will be more products using the old wick technology with new applications in the near future."
Other concepts include UK's Aromapod Aromatherapy line, which includes a range of mini-cassettes that can be slid open and inhaled. Scents are wakeup (rosemary, pine lemon and basil), breathdeep (eucalyptus, basil, niaouli and peppermint), chill out (rosewood, geranium bourbon and vanilla), in harmony (geranium bourbon oil) and wind down (lavender oil).
Laboratories Cruz Verde, Barcelona, offers soy-based candles, instead of parrifin wax, with essential oils such as lavender, bergamot and cinnamon.
But the biggest challenge to the industry is the creation of new scents that both attract the consumer and evoke a particular emotion.
From ancient Egyptian candles to simmering spices on the stove, an inherent attraction to the sense of smell has always existed. And as the market becomes more saturated with products, there has been a major push back to simplicity.
"Designer staples remain, but I think people are going more toward the bath and body and environmental fragrance markets right now with more homemade-type products," said Aroma Natural's Ms. Rocca-Lundstrom.
With these innovations, the market may not dip in sales, as some have projected, but instead continue to burn bright.