Air fresheners - the sweet smell of success

1st of October 2021
Air fresheners - the sweet smell of success
Air fresheners - the sweet smell of success

Should an air freshener be capable of creating a sense of well-being and evoking nostalgic memories of times past? Or should it simply be able to mask bad odours? Ann Laffeaty asks manufacturers what makes an air freshener system successful.

The traditional reason for using an air freshener is to cover up bad smells. This is why they are particularly popular in washrooms, care homes and similar environments where malodours might occur.

But the air freshener industry is becoming more sophisticated all the time, and today’s fragrancing systems are increasingly being used to transmit subliminal messages. Some will aim to trigger happy memories in the mind of the recipient, while others will attempt to invigorate or promote an upbeat mood. And some fragrances are developed specifically to persuade people to part with their money.

So, what does a successful air fragrancing product look like today as far as manufacturers are concerned?

The answer is simple: air care systems should be able to fulfil the customer’s specific requirements according to Prodifa’s sales director Remi Peretti. “The two equally important customer needs are to enhance the ambiance of a building and to eliminate the perception of an annoying and unpleasant odour,” he said. “And in order to create a welcoming atmosphere it is imperative to combat any bad smells beforehand.”

He says a citrus fragrance based on essential oils is the ideal solution for removing odours from environments such as a busy washroom. “Citrus scents are naturally odour-destroying while also helping to create a pleasant olfactory atmosphere,” he said. “Sweet scents such as vanilla or caramel on the other hand – although both strong and long-lasting - may mix unpleasantly with malodours.”

According to Peretti, a successful air freshening system will evoke a sense of wellbeing in the customer or visitor, whether conscious or unconscious. “This will translate into a desire to stay for longer at a facility or to return at a later date, which will potentially lead to higher consumption in a restaurant or shop,” he said.

Immediate impact

Some aromas are designed to have a much more immediate impact on the customer’s urge to buy, he adds. “For example, the smell of a waffle in a shopping mall, a cinnamon bun on a market stall or the aroma of clean laundry in the washing machine section of a white goods store can all lead to sales,” he said.

“Another hallmark of a successful air freshening system is the ability to create an olfactory signature - one that enables the customer to instinctively identify a hotel chain, clothing brand or car dealership without even being aware of it.” Prodifa is constantly developing olfactory signatures for major brands, he says.

Olfactory marketing is key to any successful ambiance-enhancing system, according to Peretti. ”Businesses are at last beginning to understand the importance of this phenomenon,” he said.

He adds that the user’s specific needs are the main consideration when coming up with a successful dispensing system. “The choice of system will depend on the area to be treated or scented,” he said. “In order to fight recurrent odours over a long period of time, for example, it is imperative to choose an automatic diffusion system. Manual diffusion systems are only useful for eliminating bad smells on an occasional basis and are therefore unsuited to most professional customers.”

He claims that customers should always discuss their individual needs with the supplier. “Otherwise, uninformed users may simply opt for a device that doesn’t require them to check the instructions before each use or refill,” said Peretti.

Prodifa offers a range of fragrances plus a choice of three programming scales to suit customer needs. The company is also planning to expand its ecological range.

Vectair Systems ceo Peter Lipke agrees that a good air freshening system should cater for the needs of the client in question. “For example, a hotel might opt for a subtle fragrance that guests will connect with and that will quickly become imprinted in the customer’s subconscious mind, while retail shops and casinos are likely to prefer strong, identifiable fragrances that will encourage customers to spend more money,” he said. “One Las Vegas casino I heard about noted a 45 per cent rise in slot machine revenue after it had fragranced the gaming room with a pleasant ambient scent.

“Manufacturers should therefore ensure they have the expertise to recommend the right product to the client for the environment in question.”

Consistency key

He adds that a successful air fragrancing system need be neither complex nor expensive. “The easier a product is to use, the more likely venues will be to adopt it.”

Vectair’s Professional Passive Program comprises a range of recyclable products claimed to be low cost and easy to use. Based on sub-micron fragrance technology, the company’s V-Air SOLID Evolution air freshener is carbon neutral and recyclable and contains no batteries, liquids
or propellants.

According to Lipke, a successful fragrance delivery system should use cutting-edge technology to produce fragrance particles that are lighter and safer and that linger for longer.

“Consistency is key, which means fragrance strength should be the same on day 10 as it is on day one,” he said. “Customers appreciate powerful large-space systems that can be programmed to suit their needs. But they are also looking for eco-friendly, battery-free options that are simple to use and install.

“The real key is to be able to provide both of these features without compromising on quality or fragrance efficacy.”

He claims the scope of the market has changed dramatically over recent years. “Organisations would historically choose to fragrance their washrooms to mask unpleasant smells,” he said. “Now it is common for companies to use air care systems in multiple areas both inside and outside the washroom for a range of reasons.

“Businesses are increasingly understanding the powerful ability of a scent to deeply connect with people’s emotions. It is no longer simply a matter of creating the perception of a clean and fresh washroom, it is now about the whole user ‘experience’.”

A successful air freshening system should not only remove bad odours – it should also address the root cause, says managing director of Denis Rawlins James White. “Air freshening is only half the story,” he said. “In order to be able to permanently eliminate bad odours it is crucial to kill off the bacteria that has caused them.

And this can only be achieved with the aid of air sterilisation. This can dramatically improve air quality and eliminate almost all airborne bacteria as well as removing bad odours.”

He claims Covid-19 has increased the public’s awareness of the role played by air sterilisation in eliminating airborne pathogens and bacteria. “Of course the more accessible a product, the better its uptake - but it isn’t difficult to introduce an air steriliser into a facility,” says White. “Most air sterilisers can be easily installed retrospectively in any environment including schools and universities, hotels, restaurants, pubs, offices, transport and healthcare facilities.”

An air freshener system can only be classed a success if it eliminates bad odours and creates a fresh and welcoming atmosphere according to Hagleitner washroom hygiene product manager Dominik Hadjiyski.

“Usability and sustainability are also key when it comes to any hygiene product or system,” he said.  “And an air fragrancing system should make people feel welcome and comfortable. Since smells trigger emotions and memories it is important that a fragrance does not go unnoticed while at the same time, it should not be overwhelming. It is all about creating a harmonious balance.”

Hagleitner’s XIBU AIRFRESH hybrid system, programmable via a smartphone, allows clients to choose whether their fragrance should be dispensed via a motion sensor; at fixed intervals or during specific opening hours. The company offers eight propellant-free fragrances including light summer variants, warm winter scents and upmarket white musk aromas for stores and clubs.

Emotional connection

However stores, clubs, hotels, offices and many other publicly-used facilities have all been closed for long periods during the past 18 months. And as they reopen, the need to create a pleasant ambient smell is unlikely to be at the top of their list of priorities. Or is it?

Vectair’s Peter Lipke believes we will see increasing demand for products that conjure up an impression of hygiene in future. “A fresh scent is imperative in creating an atmosphere that feels pleasant and clean,” he said.  “It is difficult to alter a person’s first impression of a facility, and at Vectair we fully understand the role a scent can play in the customer experience.

“Hospitality businesses are seeking to reassure their visitors about the safety of their premises, and the use of a fragrance can help to communicate to visitors that the facility has been thoroughly cleaned.”

Denis Rawlins’ James White believes air freshening needs to become a by-product of air sterilisation in future. “One of the benefits of air sterilisation is that is creates a fresher smell, but the real advantage is that it deals with the root cause of the problem and ensures the air around us is clean and safe,” he said

Prodifa’s Remi Peretti believes the fragrancing market has a bright future, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. “Smell is one of our most underestimated senses and often the most reactive one because a simple fragrance can totally change our mood in a second,” he said.

“I don’t think olfactory trends will change radically in future: cultural preferences will remain and our Mediterranean customers will continue to ask for warm, sweet scents while Nordic countries will choose fresh, light ones. However, I think there will be a growing awareness of the importance of sustainability – and we at Prodifa have been accelerating in that direction for some years.”

Hagleitner’s Dominik Hadjiyski believes the Covid-19 pandemic will have repercussions for the industry as a whole, however. “One thing is for sure: people’s awareness of hygiene has increased in response to the pandemic,” he said. “And of all the forms of hygiene, fragrance is one of the most subjective. So generally speaking I believe that those businesses aiming to provide their clients with an all-round impression of clean will attempt to appeal to all the senses – not only to sight and touch, but to smell as well.”


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