Purchase incidence of aromatherapy and scented household products rose sharply in 2003 to reach 49 percent, up from 42 percent of U.S. households in 2001. Consumers are turning away from candles as the primary delivery option for household scent toward other alternatives, such as potpourri, steamers, and sprays. By lighting fewer candles, they are expressing a desire for safer, more healthful alternatives for home fragrance. Concerns about indoor air pollution, open flames, burning petroleum-based waxes, and possible leaded wicks are becoming an important issue for consumers.

Because scents are so intimately tied to emotions, aromatherapy and other scented products enhance the atmosphere of the home with pleasant, emotionally evocative scents.

Industry Snapshot

The home-fragrance market, excluding candles, reached nearly $2 billion in retail sales in 2002, with over half of industry sales, or $1.1 billion, attributed to the category of home-fragrance diffusers (see Figure 8.2). Either battery-operated or electrically driven, diffusers give a measured release of fragrance at regular intervals. Room sprays totaled $393 million in retail sales, while potpourri reached $228 million. Manufacturer S.C. Johnson, a private company with sales estimated in excess of $5 billion, markets home-fragrance products under the Glade brand name and is the market share leader in the home-fragrance category. Home fragrances have also become an important brand extension category for the perfume and personal fragrance marketers. By adding home scents to their product lines, they deliver a 360-degree home and personal scenting experience to their customers.




% CHG '00-'02

Total Personal Consumption in millions








Room sprays








Specialty room




Specialty wardrobe




Source: Kline & Company; Euromonitor; Unity Marketing

Figure 8.2: Aromatherapy and Household Scents Industry Snapshot

Retail Overview

Now that aromatherapy products are bought by nearly half of all U.S. households, the category has moved beyond narrow specialty store distribution into the mass channels. In a recent Unity Marketing survey, the most popular stores where some 50 percent of shoppers bought aromatherapy products in the past year were discount department stores. Other retail outlets where at least one in five shoppers bought these products include traditional department stores (32 percent), other specialty stores, including candle and personal care specialty stores (29 percent), drug stores (25 percent), and grocery stores (21 percent). Note: these percentages don't add up to 100 percent due to shoppers visiting different types of stores throughout the year to buy these products.

Purchase Drivers

Consumers buy aromatherapy and scented household products for much the same reason they buy candles. While purchase incidence of candles is waning, consumers are turning to other, potentially less hazardous, more healthful ways of using scent to enhance one's mood. In describing her purchase of aromatherapy products, one woman told us: "I buy anything scented lilac. It's my favorite scent. I feel good when I walk into my house and it smells like lilac." Scents have powerful effects on consumers' emotions, and more manufacturers are looking at opportunities to enhance the appeal of their products through the addition of aromas.

Demographic Variables

Women lead in purchasing aromatherapy products, with 56 percent of women reporting a purchase, compared with 41 percent of men. This category has a strong youthful skew, with purchase incidence highest among the households aged 25 to 34. Purchase incidence is elevated for householders aged 18 to 24 and 35 to 54, and drops sharply at age 55. Ethnically neutral, white, black, and Hispanic households buy aromatherapy products at about the same rate.

There is little variation in the purchase incidence of aromatherapy in terms of household income. Household size and presence of children make a difference, with larger-sized households of two or more individuals and those with children purchasing more.

Key Demographics of Buyers of Aromatherapy and Scents.

  • This is a women-led category.

  • Income makes little difference in purchase incidence.

  • Incidence skews to households under age 35, but households to age 65 are fairly active.

  • Large households and those with children buy more.

Why People Buy Things They Don't Need. Understanding and Predicting Consumer Behavior
Why People Buy Things They Dont Need: Understanding and Predicting Consumer Behavior
ISBN: 0793186021
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 137

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