Masking odor is a distant memory. Today’s environmental fragrance
products eliminate pesky scents, transport people to
exotic locations and look right at home doing so.
WHEN JESSICA ORR, a 30-something stay-at-home mom in Cranford, NJ, went to her
neighbor’s candle party, she was looking for
two things: a few hours away from the kids
and reed diffusers. With a cat and two toddlers, she found the flameless technology a
safer way to scent her home.
Ms. Orr is a key customer in the home fragrance market: not only does she have a spe-
cific odor issue, she is open to new home scenting methods—
a critical component in an environmental fragrance market
that has moved far beyond the simple task of masking odor.
Today’s environmental fragrance products banish odor and
kill bacteria with an amazing range of sophisticated scents.
In addition, a keen eye for design has led to shelves full of
candles, diffusers and other home fragrance products that
match consumers’ sense of style as much
as they appeal to their sense of smell.
These factors are stoking the fires of
competition in the home fragrance market, one in which household care companies, including S.C. Johnson, Reckitt
Benckiser and P&G, vie against specialty
home fragrance firms
like Yankee Candle, direct sellers such as Blyth’s PartyLite
and mass market specialty firms such as Chesapeake Bay
Candle—not to mention a healthy dose of private label
brands and niche players.
According to Little Falls, NJ-based market research firm
Kline & Company, U.S. home fragrance sales rose 6% in
2007 to $3.4 billion at the manufacturer level and $5 billion
at retail. Candles represent the largest category overall.
However, during the past five years, there has been shifting
preference in delivery systems. In 2002, candles accounted
for more than half of the market. However, fragrance
sprays and diffusers have been growing at much higher
rates, pushing candle’s share below 50% last year according
to Kline & Company’s most recent report on the U.S. home
While consumer preference is fluid, the one constant in
the environmental fragrance market is, well, fragrance. Scent remains paramount
whether the delivery method is a candle,
spray or plug-in device. What has
changed, however, is the type of fragrances available. Today’s home scents
are much more sophisticated—think
notes of fig, tobacco and pomegranate—
accords that at first glance would seem
more at home in a flacon than in