WHAT PEOPLE BUY: CANDLES AND CANDLE ACCESSORIES


Sixty-two percent of U.S. households purchased candles in 2003, down slightly from the 65 percent who purchased in 2001. That makes candles the second most widely purchased home product category, after stationery and greeting cards. With nearly two-thirds of American households buying candles in 2003, there is little new growth available in the market-place. The simple fact is the candle market has reached a plateau and further growth will be hard for marketers and retailers to come by easily.

Industry Snapshot

Since 2000, retail sales of candles have dropped 12.2 percent, while sales of candle accessory items, such as displays, candlesticks, decorative jar lids, and lighting and extinguishing accessories, have grown 44 percent (see Figure 8.6). Overall the sales of candles and candle accessories were about even in 2002 with sales in 2000.

 

2000

2002

% CHG '00-'02

Total Personal Consumption in millions

$2,836.0

$2,783.0

-1.9

Candles

2,313.5

2,031.6

-12.2

Accessories

522.5

751.4

43.8

Source: Unity Marketing


Figure 8.6: Candle and Accessories Industry Snapshot

Retail Overview

Some of the decline in retail sales of candles since 2000 has been due to the rapid expansion of candles beyond the specialty retailer channels, where higher prices are common, into the discount and mass merchant channels, which reward value pricing. Whereas seven years ago or so the premium brands of candles were almost exclusively distributed in specialty-retail and gift boutiques, today mass merchants, grocery, drug, and other mass-market outlets have reached a 40 percent share of market and become the single largest distribution channel for candles.

In terms of specialty retail, the brand leaders are Yankee Candle, Intimate Brand's White Barn Candle, and Blyth's Partylite and Colonial Candle of Cape Cod brands. Yankee Candle operates 250 specialty stores in mall locations and distributes its line through 14,000 specialty gift retailers. They also are distributed nationally through Bed Bath & Beyond and Linens 'n Things home stores. White Barn Candle has 130 dedicated specialty stores and is the candle house brand for the 1,600 stores of its corporate sister, Bath & Body Works. Partylite candles are exclusively distributed through 33,000 independent sales consultants who host parties and build excitement for the brand. Finally Blyth's Colonial Candle brand gives Yankee Candle a run for its money in the gift stores.

Purchase Drivers

Candles represent an indulgence item that gives consumers an emotional lift and only costs pocket change to buy—the perfect antidote for fending off the blues. As a consumer product, candles are unique. Burning a candle has a magical, transforming effect. One focus group respondent said: "Every woman looks beautiful in candlelight." Its flame mesmerizes, as this respondent describes: "I love to watch a candle burning. It's very relaxing to watch how they burn down." Its scent comforts and it sparks romance. Candles work on many different sensory levels to calm and refresh. A burning candle hearkens back to hearth and home. Candles are also a favorite gift item for holidays and throughout the year, as consumers seek gifts that will help them connect emotionally with loved ones and friends. One described the choice of candles as a perfect gift: "Everybody loves candles and you can get a really nice quality candle for $20 to $25, the price I like to spend on gifts."

Lighting a candle often signals a break from the ordinary and a time to relax. For some people, it is almost a ritual. A respondent explains that every time she sits down in her home office to work, she lights a candle: "I love candles and I always burn candles especially when I am working. When I light my candle on my desk, it means I am ready to work." Candles also support bathing and cleaning rituals, with a candlelit bath representing the ultimate in luxury. The fresh scent that candles impart in the home conveys cleanliness: "It reflects on your home, if it smells good. A burning candle gives a scent that tells how you keep your home and make it more enjoyable." For consumers, the role of scent in burning candles is very important, as three-fourths of all candles consumed are scented.

Yet there is a dark side to candles and that comes from the combustion of petroleum-based waxes. Indoor air pollution is becoming a concern, and while candles have a healthful glow, they can be a major source of indoor air pollutants, smoke, and dirt. I learned firsthand about the negative effects of over exuberant candle burning. Last year we had to repaint our living room as the soot from candles left tell-tale stains on the ceiling and walls. At our home now, candles are only an occasional indulgence.

Demographic Variables

Women are more likely to report candle purchases for their home, with 70 percent saying they or someone in their household bought a candle in the past year. However, with 53 percent of men reporting the same, this is hardly a female-only category. Despite their lower overall reported purchase, men represent a market for candles as they both purchase and influence the purchase of candles, especially when romance is on the agenda.

Candle purchase is higher among the more youthful consumers, aged 44 and younger. Purchase incidence declines with age with the lowest overall purchase incidence among those 65 years and above. Candles also appeal to all ethnic groups, with blacks and Hispanics buying candles at a slightly higher incidence than white households.

As household income rises, so does candle purchase incidence. The biggest jump in purchase incidence is found among the $35,000-to-$49,999 income range with 70 percent of these households reporting purchase. This elevated purchase incidence continues with rising income. Larger households buy more candles, with two-or-more-person households and those with children buying more candles than people living alone.

Key Demographics of Buyers of Candles.

  • This is a female-dominated category, with strong male participation.

  • There is a youthful skew in purchase incidence that falls after age 45.

  • Middle to the highest incomes, $35,000 or more, buy more.

  • All racial and ethnic groups purchase.

  • Households with children buy more.

  • Large households 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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