Air fresheners - a matter of common scents

20th of September 2013
Air fresheners - a matter of common scents

Air freshener companies are constantly coming up with new fragrances to differentiate their products from that of the competition. But does the average customer actually want this level of choice, or do most tend to opt for citrus, lavender or one of the other more common scents? Ann Laffeaty finds out.

Aromas such as citrus, lavender and rose petals are perennial favourites among customers seeking a pleasant fragrance for their offices, stores or other facilities.

But air freshener companies are constantly bringing out new and increasingly exotic aromas. Fragrance offerings such as Rain, Linen, Autumn and Exotica are designed to evoke a particular season or mood rather than simply make a facility smell more pleasant. But how many customers actually opt for these unusual new fragrances when a simple lemon or floral aroma would potentially do the same job?

Brand manager at P and L Systems Francesca Hay says it is actually customer demand that prompts her company to continually come up with new fragrances. “We have seen a move towards more complex fragrances as customers seek to distinguish themselves from the competition and create the correct first impression,” she said.

According to Hay some customers are actively seeking fragrances that are both sophisticated and memorable, adding that P and L’s Precious range has been developed to fill this gap.

“One of our customers provides washroom services for a range of prestigious office buildings and to create the right first impression they use one of our Precious fragrances – either Ruby or Amber – as a signature scent,” said Hay.

She says the type of fragrance chosen by the customer depends very much on the facility. “One of our customers provides a chain of gyms with cleaning services and they choose to use Adrenalin - a very intense, masculine fragrance - in the male changing rooms,” she said.

“Sharp, clean fragrances such as Lemon Fresh, Green Apple and Fresh Linen are always popular with washroom service companies wishing to create a clean-smelling environment, while more complex fragrances are popular with customers looking to create a more luxurious atmosphere. “

Rather than consolidating a few core fragrance lines, P and L Systems is constantly evolving its range according to Hay. “Our customers like to be able to offer their customers something new to prevent olfactory fatigue, where people become so used to a scent that they no longer smell it,” she said.

According to Hay the fact that people’s reactions to a particular scent is subjective means every customer is different and many would be alienated if the company were to provide just a few key fragrances. “We work closely with our customers to understand their requirements and fulfil their needs,” she said. “We use a ‘fragrance map’ to plot aromas according to their main notes depending on whether these are sweet, fruity, floral or oriental. This helps our customers to select the right fragrances for their own customers.”

Managing director of Vectair Systems Paul Wonnacott says that although traditional, floral-based fragrances have always been popular, customers are increasingly opting for scents that trigger specific emotions.

“For example our Babyface fragrance which smells of fresh linen and baby powder conjures up memories of youth and babies,” he said. “Every year we look at fragrance trends - not only for washrooms but also for popular perfumes and even for fashion.”

He adds that the company seeks direct customer feedback to ascertain opinion on the types of air freshener fragrances they require. “For example, would they prefer a ‘new’ smell that is different to anything they have smelt before? Or would they rather it were based on something they can relate to and enjoy, such as cinnamon?” he said. “Their answers will typically depend on where they are from.”

Classic fragrances

He says ethnic origins have a major influence on fragrance choice. “Scientific evidence suggests that different ethnic groups perceive aromas differently because their genes follow a similar pattern,” says Wonnacott. “For example, people in Arabic states tend to prefer heavy, musky fragrances such as oudh while Europeans are more likely to prefer lighter, fruity fragrances.”

He says Vectair strives to determine which fragrances are likely to suit the majority and then produces a core range of between eight and 10 generic fragrances. “We then introduce different ranges of more quirky scents,” he said.

The company’s staple Airoma collection of fragrances are claimed to suit all preferences. “However in some instances a customer needs more than just a modern fragrance – they may need to provide a stronger, more intense burst in a facility such as a themed bar or hotel, or at a particular event for example.”

Conversely, head of product management at Hagleitner Dr Georg Steiner says that most of his company’s customers opt for the more standard citrus, floral and aquatic fragrances. “Classic scents tend to dominate our market,” he said. “In fact our air freshener range has remained the same for several years and we haven’t added anything.”

However, he concedes that more novel fragrances are sometimes required in upmarket environments such as exclusive hotels. “But there is not really a need for us to innovate in this area,” he said.

According to Steiner the company’s eight different fragrances can cover all of Hagleitner’s customer demands.

SCA offers just three aromas in its own air freshener range – Apple, Citrus and Floral. These cover most market requirements according to product and segment manager Charlotte Branwhite – though she admits that preferences vary from country to country. “Our fruity Citrus and Apple aromas are particularly popular in the UK, whereas our Floral scent is more in demand in other European markets.”

Hyprom’s marketing and communications manager Dorothée Cognault says fruity fragrances such as grapefruit, lemon, lime and orange are particular favourites with the company’s customers – and that most clients remain faithful to just three to five fragrances.

“Citrus, Lavender and Mint are probably the ‘must-haves’ in our market, though customers also appreciate the ‘nice-to-haves’,” she said. As a result, Hyprom offers more than 30 perfumes.

“People love the idea that they can change fragrances regularly,” said Cognault. “Thanks to our large range of fragrances we are able to change the fragrance at each service run or every season, and for our customers this is a real added value.” She says this is the main reason the company continues to innovate. “However, the real revolution will not be in new fragrances but dispenser technology.”

So is it the case a few common scents fill most – if not all – customer demands? The more classic aromas do indeed have their place according to P and L Systems’ Francesca Hay. “This is particularly true where customers are looking for a single-note scent that is easily recognised,” she said. “A lot of people associate citrus smells with cleanliness and will choose a scent such as Lemon Fresh for areas that need to reflect this.

“However, these fragrances do not dominate the market: in fact in recent times we have seen customers choosing more complex scents that evolve over time and that are more reminiscent of perfumes. These ‘layered’ scents offer a longer-lasting, more complex fragrance.”

Vectair Systems’ Paul Wonnacott also admits a few key favourites are perennial winners. “Fragrances go in and out of fashion like everything else and we are constantly looking at new and appealing fragrance options,” he said. “But we like to keep our key collection of fragrances which includes citrus and linen.”


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