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Starting Point: Wicks and Sprays Wax Candles in Home Fragrance Smackdown

Karen A. Newman

Candles have centuries of history in illuminating rooms and as focal points in religious ceremonies. But it was not until the mid-1980s, according to the National Candle Association, that the wicked wonders stepped out of the flickering shadows as home décor and instruments of home fragrance. Now with stiff competition coming from a growing variety of fragrance forms, it may be time to light a fire under candle innovation.

According to Kline & Company, room sprays enjoyed 18% growth during the past year, nearly three times that of the overall market. The firm sees new growth coming from “value-added technologies such as finer misting action, concentrated and longer-lasting fragrances, and odor-eliminating technologies.” Read more about the home fragrance market in our cover story, written by Karen Doskow, project manager, consumer products, Kline & Company.

I had a call from Jill Belasco in late September, as we were preparing this issue. Jill is president and CEO of the 14-year-old private label candle and home fragrance firm known, until recently, as Latitudes International. (Jill also contributed to the first two GCI Fragrance Business conferences, taking the podium in September to talk about staying successful in the face of change.) The company was purchased in December 2007, and just last month, the new, larger organization changed its name to Maesa, turning her operation into a global business. Jill tells me she will continue to lead the division now called Maesa Home.

In 2007, according to Jill, for the first time ever, candle sales fell below those of other home fragrance products. She watched the candle category boom and then begin to subside as consumers chose different home fragrance options. As plug-in and other devices, as well as diffusers, have become popular, Jill says, “the consumer’s gotten used to having things in her house that she doesn’t have to worry about.” New worries for air care manufacturers, however, have come in the form of VOC regulations. Jill has more to say on the subject in “In My Opinion.”

This issue moves quickly from mood-setting home fragrances to man’s best friend. GCI magazine assistant editor Leslie Benson tells how celebrity hair stylist John Masters combined his mastery of hair and skin care with his love of animals into a shampoo product aptly called DogPoo. His story is just one in the new breed of marketers applying lessons learned in people care to products for pets.

Finally, as we readied this issue for the printer’s press, global economic news crashed around us like breaking glass. Credit is tightening and exports are slowing for the four countries that have shown great promise in recent years as emerging economic heavyweights: Brazil, Russia, India and China, known as BRIC. Recent events put our feature, “BRIC: Promises and Caveats,” by Euromonitor’s Irina Barbalova, into an altered context.

Nevertheless, enjoy the issue. When you’ve finished, you can always wrestle your favorite canine companion into the tub for a pampering scrub. As always, I hope we’ve opened doors, turned on lights and shaken loose a few cobwebs to get you thinking in new ways.

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