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Do Candle Colors Trump Fragrance?

Posted: August 28, 2008, from the March 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

There are two sides to every story, as the adage goes, and the old saw apparently applies to why people choose the candles they do. Which comes first, the color or the fragrance? Should a company’s strategy be to draw a line in the sand on the side of one or the other, finding a niche and filling a specific need, or is a more comprehensive solution combining color and fragrance the way to go? Some answers to these questions may surprise you.

Color Over Scent

“Women buy candles first for color. A candle is a decorative accessory,” said Tommy Dionisio, CEO and founder of BleuBay, the Scottsville, Texas, candle maker. This comes from a manufacturer whose specialty is authentic aromatherapy. His mind is made up on color versus fragrance, and his line incorporates both. The color supports the ideas behind authentic aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy products, explained Dioniso, correspond to one of four emotions: relaxing, meditative, uplifting and sensual. Each of these relates to a season of life and a season of the year. This seasonal connection suggests candle colors for the BleuBay collection. Sensuality, for example, corresponds with winter, said Dionisio, therefore suggesting a darker palette. The BleuBay Enchant selection offers warm, sensual aromas and colors including Lilac Ash and Dubonnet Red. Uplifting, the springtime of aromatherapy, finds interpretation in BleuBay’s Revive line with colors that are “more awake and alive,” said Dionisio.

Mood and Decor

The Zinnia Company makes an aromatherapy candle collection with essential oils and a soy wax blend to aid in aroma retention. Its aromatherapy candle collection contains no dyes or pigments. On the flip side, Zinnia offers an unscented collection, paraffin-free pillars made with palm wax, available in five colors designed to coordinate with mood and décor.

The National Candle Association hedges its bet on this debate. At its Web site, www.candles.org, the group states, “Although candle color is the second most important factor (after fragrance) for influencing consumer purchasing decisions, color and fragrance are closely linked.” According to the organization, “Research has shown that consumers expect the color of a scented candle to mirror their psychological perception of the fragrance.” The new hues for each season reflect what’s happening in fashion and home interiors.