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Fragrancing with Intent

Nancy Jeffries

Fragrance is an intimate communicator. Whether it’s the heady aroma of tropical flowers or a subtle abstraction, fragrances are evocative and powerful triggers. Perfumers have plumbed the depths of aromatic expression throughout the ages, and contemporary perfumers continue to experiment with both personal fragrances and home fragrances.

According to Euromonitor International, the air care category that includes candles, aerosol air fresheners, slow-release liquid wicks, electric air fresheners, gels and assorted instant release products, was valued at more than $6 billion in 2005, and is forecast to reach $7 billion in 2010. Refillable room deodorizers, innovative battery-operated products and evocative, aromatic candles have touched a nerve in the marketplace.

Whether it’s an electric air freshener, such as plug-in products from Glade and Air Wick, or traditional sprays, instantly fragrancing a room or environment is very popular. Some products such as concentrated sprays and instant-release products are designed to remove odors, while others provide slow-release fragrance to enhance environments. Whatever the purpose, the possibilities in home fragrances seem to be boundless.

Trends and Well-being

Manheimer Fragrances uses in-depth trend-tracking methods when predicting what future trends will drive fragrance direction. “Working 18–24 months out, our predictions of how lifestyle trends will translate into winning fragrances is consistently demonstrated with the foresight and accuracy our customers have come to rely on,” said Karen Solari, vice president of marketing, Manheimer Fragrances. Solari says the most influential lifestyle driver today is wellness. “The mindset toward maximizing our personal well-being is making its way into every aspect of daily living, and consumers are giving ever more consideration to the quality of their environment both inside and outside the home.”

In keeping with a current emphasis on the notion of well-being, Solari cites an important connection to nature, which is supported by the popularity of natural and organic fragrances. “We see the breadth of natural and organic home fragrances as supporting several distinct lifestyle directions,” she said. “A holistic/ayurvedic approach of life in harmony with nature would focus on such ingredients as ginger, cardamom or rosemary. A luxury/spa mood can be created by using essences associated with indulgence and pampering, such as jasmine, passionflower or sandalwood.” To appeal to the growing consumer base motivated by the value of emerging super foods, Solari sees ingredients such as goji berry, mangosteen and cacao as an exciting evolution of the natural and organic evolution.

“Looking ahead, a shift in marketing will focus on appealing to our emotional rather than rational realm, by engaging all our senses,” said Solari. “As this happens, an opulent and sensual mood will emerge in the home and fragrance will reflect a warm, nostalgic turn toward the use of heady, aphrodisiac ingredients (such as) violet and tuberose.”

Connections and Dimensions

In concert with creating designer fragrances for the home, designers of fine fragrance have long supported lines with ancillary products—including candles. However, Anvers by Ulrich Lang, a unique fragrance that began as a contemporary niche eau de toilette for men, recently transitioned into the home fragrance arena as an aromatic candle. The scent supports the trend toward fragrance complexity. Anvers’ fusion of spices, florals, woods and ambers supports its translation as an aromatic candle with a point of view.

In keeping with a trend toward evocative fragrances with personality, Alexandra Monet, a perfumer with drom Fragrances, shared insights that illustrate new interpretations of environmental scents. “Aerosols and electric air fresheners are leaders in the market right now.” said Monet. “But candles are the best to create an atmosphere and perfume a room overall.” Monet cited a number of fragrances that are currently quite strong in the marketplace. “Citrus fragrances lead the market in air scents, as they give an impression of freshness and cleanliness,” she said, while in the U.S. “Vanillic and gourmand fragrance combinations are also extremely popular, as they evoke a sense of comfort and warmth.” Monet noted that vanilla and edible notes may be combined in many ways—with pumpkin, spices, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and chocolate, for example. “Fruit combinations in the air scent market are very popular for similar reasons, as they are easy to relate to and have such a vast span for creativity,” added Monet. Popular fruits include berry combinations, apple, peach and exotic fruits blends. Floral notes, such as white flowers and lavender, remain a staple in the marketplace, but there is a surge of clean fragrances inspired by laundry care. Monet says this is especially evident in the U.S. market, where scents of clean linen, fresh air and water are proving to be quite successful.

Reaching individuals seeking to recreate scents that remind them of special times in their lives is the objective for Upper Canada Soap & Candle Makers, Ontario. According to Debbie Trollope, brand manager, the company recognized that scents and memories go hand-in-hand, and created a line called Moments, Scents Inspired by Life. The 18 fragrances, designed to be reminiscent of cherished moments, are made from a paraffin mottling wax.

Jimmy Belasco, founder of his eponymous line of fragranced candles, stresses his appreciation of a difference between waxes used for candles, and personally prefers utilizing soy wax. “I originally chose soy wax back in 1999 so that I could have a wax that did not fight or alter my fragrance blends,” said Belasco, who says paraffin wax, made from crude oil, has a petroleum odor.

“This was important to me because I was creating highly designed candle fragrances,” said Belasco, whose first company, er’go (of which he is no longer a part), utilized the soy waxes he described. Belasco says he uses only two ingredients: soybeans and a small amount of vegetable oil. “Soy means a cleaner burning wax for your environment,” he said. “You have a choice, you can have a vegetable product producing fumes or you can have a petroleum product. The choice is clear to me.

“I don’t believe we fully understand what ‘fragrancing with intent,’ can do, but I feel that it is the same with any product or service. Your intent will be felt by those who receive it,” Belasco says.

Once he made his choice, Belasco, utilizing essential oils, set out to create candle fragrances that added dimensions beyond the one, two and three note blends prevalent in the market. “I wanted to create fragrances that were more layered and dimensional, like designer parfum for the skin,” he said, indicating that most of his fragrances will have up to 100 or more notes. “Even when we cover a simple fruit fragrance, there is more than one dimension to the actual fruit.” Citing a strawberry, which is not in his line, he explained, “There is the tart, the sweet, the green, the earthy, bitter and more that goes into the actual taste and smell.”

Belasco’s layered scents for the home include Mango and Cream, Blackberry Currant, Thai Ginger Citrus and Absinthe, and he cites his new fragrance, Sexe, for its complexity and dimension. The fragrance blends amber, myrrh, plumeria and sandalwood, and was first designed with the idea of use on the skin. “Our olfactory sense is the one sense that is directly linked to the emotional center of the brain, which is why a whiff of a fragrance can immediately bring back a rush of emotions,” said Belasco. He believes that candles are vehicles for spirituality as well—citing the mind, body, spirit connection. Therefore, Belasco is concentrating on creating candles as “designer fragrances for the environment.” His goal is to fragrance the home—not decorate it. “This is why I do not add color to the wax or decoration to the glass, only my signature adorns each of my candles,” said Belasco.

Flavors and Fragrance

Evidence of a new take on the gourmand trend is alive and well in the form of freshly brewed teas, now translated into candles designed for tea time conversation and conviviality. New beverage candles from er’go include Green Tea, Mint Tea and Chai. The aromas are designed to sweeten the environment and calm the body and mind. The company’s Winter Collection includes Cinnamon Bark, English Pecan, Hearth and Orchard Spice, and the Solo Collection features candles available in a range of olfactory variations based on black currants. Other scents in the collection include Star Jasmine, Cantaloupe and Lily of the Valley.

“For candles, new fragrances of food-inspired scents and interesting spins on the most popular fragrances, such as vanilla combinations or exotic fruits such as quince that aren’t quite mainstream yet, are becoming more popular,” said Trollope. “Other fragrance trends in the food-inspired category include cassis, spiced chestnut, frosted cranberries, spiced pear, caramel apple, biscotti, tea and honey, gingerbread maple and spiced cocoa.”

New trends in air care, according to Trollope, stem from delivery systems. Reed diffusers, drawer liners, scented stones and crystals—anything to layer favorite scents—are gaining popularity throughout the home. Room sprays and plug-ins, on the other hand, are utilized to deliver strong bursts of scent. Trollope notes that Upper Canada Soap & Candle will be extending its Moments line, in part, through the addition of new delivery systems—including reed diffusers.

“By increasing the number and types of products that consumers can use concurrently, the market drives incremental purchases and accelerates repurchases,” said Trollope, citing a study by Global New Product Databas that shows additional product purchases as consumers move toward more home entertaining and stay-at-home habits. Delivery, fragrance and ingredient distinctions continue to create interesting points of difference in the home fragrance industry.

Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

Essential oils are utilized in concentrated form to fragrance BleuBay Aromatherapy Candles. Using food-grade wax, pure cotton wicks and essential oils from such plant sources as rosewood, bergamot, lavender and vanilla, BleuBay Candles are designed to impart aromatherapeutic effects. They come in votive packs, pillars, glass goblets and travel companions, and, according to company founder and CEO Tommy Dionisio, “There is no limit to where candles and aromas can take you.”

Whether it’s relaxation or meditation, Dionisio says the candles are completely mood-sensitive. The name itself, which his wife is responsible for, evokes a place where all is right, where oils elicit memories and there’s a peaceful body of water to complete the mood. “That’s where BleuBay is,” say Dionisio.

The handcrafted candles are said to deliver a clean, soot-free experience, and come in 16 different aromas. Because essential oils are highly volatile plant extracts, they evaporate quickly and don’t clog the wick. According to Dionisio, the candles can transform an environment and provide healing aromas designed to invoke a desired mood and combat depression and stress. The Zinnia Company also offers aromatherapeutic benefits with its candles. The hand-poured aromatherapy collection is made with essential oils and a soy wax blend to aid in aroma retention and long, clean burn. The candles contain no dyes or pigments.

There’s also an unscented collection from Zinnia, available in paraffin-free pillars made with 100% palm wax in five colors. All are designed to coordinate with mood and décor, and are various pillar sizes and burn times.

The options for scenting a room or environment are far-reaching, and the desired results are attainable, even in the midst of the busiest cities in the world.

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