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Fragrancing systems - a load of fresh air3rd of November 2014
What are the key fragrance trends today? Do we still require sweet, heavy air fresheners or are we beginning to prefer more subtle, fresher aromas? And if customers’ tastes are changing, how are air freshener companies adapting to their demands? Ann Laffeaty finds out.
They say that: “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and it is indeed universally accepted that we all have different ideas on what we find attractive to look at. In the same way we all have different tastes in music, food and clothing materials. So it should come as no surprise that we are just as diverse when it comes to our fifth sense – namely, smell.
This means that air freshener companies have a difficult task: they need to come up with commercial products that they can produce in bulk, while also catering to vastly different opinions on what smells good and what does not. And this task is made doubly difficult by the fact that people tend to like or dislike fragrances according to the associations they have for them, rather than focusing on the smell itself.
“An odour has no personal significance until it becomes connected to something that has a meaning for us,” confirms managing director and president of Vectair Systems Paul Wonnacott.
“From one’s initial encounter with a fragrance one will begin forming nerve connections that will link that smell with certain emotions. This may be why some fragrances are popular in individual cultures, perhaps because the smells are associated with people’s childhoods. For example, we have noticed particular fragrance trends with our Middle Eastern customers where strong, musky perfumes such as oudh are popular.”
However, Wonnacott adds fragrance trends tend to change over the years. “We have remarked a decrease in demand for floral fragrances and an increased preference for more tropical aromas, perhaps because these evoke memories of summer holidays by the sea.
“There has also been an increase in the luxury home market and fragrance choices seem to have followed this trend. As people lead busier lives, many have started seeking luxurious scents that tend to be associated with spas. Lavender is associated with relaxation, for example, and jasmine with sleep. The emphasis is on high quality, luxury scents that have a major impact rather than fragrances that simply blend into the surroundings.”
He says an increasing number of customers are concerned with the prospect of ‘fragrance fatigue’ - the temporary inability to distinguish a particular smell after prolonged exposure to it. To combat fragrance fatigue Vectair has developed a multi-phasing system called V-Air Solid.
“This combines and diffuses key fragrance notes that are subtly different while also having differing diffusion rates,” said Wonnacott. “This essentially means that the start fragrance turns into a different fragrance over time.”
According to brand manager for P+L Systems Lara Tarsuslugil, every customer has a different need in terms of preferences. “Our Classic fragrances have always been popular with washroom service companies which tend to prefer clean, sharp scents such as Lemon Fresh or Green Apple that create a fresh, hygienic environment,” she said. “However our recently-launched Limited Edition Tropical Fusion fragrances and our Precious and Concept ranges are a hit with customers who prefer complex fragrances offering a luxurious atmosphere.
“Over recent years we have seen a move towards customers recognising the importance of using a fragrance that is suitable for the area it is intended for. As a result they are now more likely to buy fragrances that meet their individual customers’ needs, rather than simply opting for a set selection they then provide as standard each month.”
She says P+L is constantly developing its fragrance offering. “We work closely with our customers to ensure we are always answering their requirements,” she said. “Our range includes various seasonal and limited edition fragrances. This allows customers the chance to offer something new and different all year round.”
She says fragrance preferences will always be subjective. “However the understanding of fragrance is something that has evolved over the years,” she adds. “Classic fragrances will always have their place in the market. But complex scents reminiscent of perfumes that offer a longer lasting fragrance have become increasingly popular.
“Customers are now associating scents with different environments and are picking their fragrance offerings accordingly. They have become a lot more selective and knowledgeable about fragrances, and they recognise the importance of creating the right atmosphere for their customers.”
She adds that every publicly-used environment needs to have a pleasant aroma. “A washroom fragrance is as important to our customers as a fragrance that goes into a front-of-house area. As our customer base grows and fragrance preferences change, it is important we keep up to date with these changes and that we evolve according to market trends and the needs of our customers.”
According to Tarsuslugil, an increasing number of P+L customers are attempting to distinguish themselves from their rivals by using complex, luxury fragrances that create a positive first impression.
“Whereas once customers would prefer a single note fragrance such as those from our Fruits and Flavours range, we have seen a shift in customers preferring to buy more layered, luxurious fragrances that develop throughout the day.”
Floral scents reminiscent of springtime remain the most popular fragrances in the Hagleitner range according to product manager Dr Georg Steiner. “This fragrance preference has remained constant for around five years,” he said. “We have a choice of eight different scents and our customers are very satisfied with them.
“They offer something for everyone and there is no requirement for us to constantly come up with new fragrances. Though we do think the industry will require an increasing number of light, pleasant fragrances in the future.”
Hyprom marketing and communications director Dorothée Cognault says her customers’ fragrance preferences depend entirely on the environments for which they are intended. Like P+L brand manager Lara Tarsuslugil she has remarked a clear division between washroom preferences and those in other areas.
“Simple, fruity or fresh fragrances have been the most popular choices in the washroom for some years, whereas designer fragrances are our best sellers for environments such as stores, conference centres and reception areas,” she said.
“In fact the growing demand for air control systems in places other than the washroom is a fairly new phenomenon. Newer markets include small businesses selling clothes, furniture or designer goods as well as larger companies seeing aromas for their meeting rooms, welcome desks and foyers.”
According to Cognault, tastes in all areas of the fragrance market have evolved over the years. “The classical, old-fashioned bouquet aroma that was mainly composed of rose and violet has been replaced with the more subtle ‘white flower bouquet’ scent,” she said.
“Meanwhile, customers are switching from traditional lemon and orange scents to the exotic Yuzu and elegant Neroli respectively, and aromas such as cotton flower and lemon grass are replacing lavender and mint. There are also more designer fragrances on the market made up with new notes such as leather and oudh. The market is generally becoming more creative.”
So how do manufacturers see the air care market evolving? Will the current demand for fresher, more sophisticated fragrances continue or will customers have other requirements of the industry?
Paul Wonnacott believes it will remain important to continually develop new fragrances and systems. “People change over time and consumables such as clothing and homeware go in and out of fashion,” he said. “Meanwhile, celebrities are continually re-inventing themselves to ensure their fans don’t become bored with them. The same applies to fragrances: what is important to consumers now may not be so in the future.”
Air care market growing
According to Wonnacott, business is growing in the air care market with an increase of nearly three per cent in liquid sales and four per cent in gel sales for the company over the past four years. And while fragrance trends are changing, today’s customers have other demands as well, he says.
“It seems that now more than ever, consumers and distributors are looking for products that push the boundaries of fragrance while also being extremely environmentally aware,” he said. “They want products that are truly green, but that also exceed safety requirements.”
Hyprom’s Dorothée Cognault feels the same way. “People are becoming increasingly concerned about the composition of fragrances and are looking for greener, more efficient solutions,” she said. “They are seeking to replace the traditional aerosol delivery with more efficient technologies that are harmless for the planet and for mankind.”
She says Hyprom anticipated this trend when coming up with its recently-launched air care product, BLO2. This concept uses nanotechnology to ‘blow’ fragrances into the atmosphere using no propellant gas. According to Cognault it is important to keep coming up with new products to engage today’s most discerning customers.
“All of us are surrounded every day by creative fragrances – not only in air fresheners but also in detergents, shower gels, shampoos and deodorants,” she said.
“The consumers who use these are also the professionals who buy our air control systems, and naturally they expect the same variety and choice. And in a more general sense, consumers have become used to an amazing choice and constant innovation in every aspect of their lives – particularly in terms of new technology, new smartphone upgrades etc. When it comes to fragrances, their expectations are the same.”