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Home Fragrance Solutions—High-tech and Down-to-earth

By: Eric Albee
Posted: November 9, 2009, from the November 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

Slatkin & Co.’s Scentbug features a battery-powered fan that works to stream fragrance into the air. Drops of scent oil are added to the included pad. Consumers have control of the amount of fragrance used, and thus their fragrance experience and spend.

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Changes in material will not necessarily be easy. The change from traditional polymers to biopolymers requires a significant amount of compatibility testing, and would also, potentially, require new UL testing for some products. If the commitment is made to take this step, however, utilizing these new biopolymers would allow the opportunity to eliminate all or part of the dependence on many of the petroleum-based polymers that are currently utilized. And the sooner these new materials are more fully integrated and commercialized, the sooner the economics of these new materials will equalize with the petroleum-based polymers currently dominating the market. Additionally, current materials handling allows for an effective stream of postconsumer polymers. These postconsumer polymers can be handled with minimal challenge, often being handled with no change from the virgin resins currently used—though there may need to be a mentality shift on the side of design with the use of this postconsumer material. Focus may need to shift from simply making a product bright white, and opening design direction up to the use of materials that are not always 100% white in nature—typical of postconsumer materials streams.

The Electronics

Beyond materials selection allowing the creation of a green product, the evolution of computer chip programming and the ongoing cost reduction of these components makes it possible to integrate advanced components and programming into home air care devices, and is not as expensive as it sounds. The use of advanced electrical components and programming in these devices can allow for the control of electric air care devices on predetermined settings—established either by the manufacturer or by the consumer or through means such as motion or light. Glade, for example, has done and excellent job of integrating a motion sensor into its Sense & Spray Automatic Freshener “smart unit.” This is a very good step by a brand to integrate technologies such as motion sensors that have come down in cost.

Taking the implementation of electric component technologies a bit further, the integration of a timer circuit into a plug of an air freshener allows devices to turn on and off in a defined setting toward eliminating waste of electricity and fragrance components used in the devices. In fact, many plug-in devices with a constant on setting fragrance a space at all times rather than when the consumer is home to appreciate the fragrance.

Though these changes are good for the planet and good for consumers’ wallets, adding timer circuits is not necessarily the most advantageous way for a brand to make money on refills—yet, these approaches, acknowledging consumers’ need and desire for a product that considers both consumer resources and has less impact on global resources, does pay dividends in brand equity. Brands that focus on products that are both earth- and wallet-friendly will no doubt be a trend that grows. Slatkin & Co., for example, has acknowledged this consumer need for eco-responsibility and frugality while not sacrificing anything on performance in the creation the new Scentbug product (available through Bath & Body Works)—a non-heated air freshener based on a fan system that effectively delivers fragrance into the air. The device is designed to use available Slatkin & Co. home fragrance oils, allowing consumers to use as little or as much fragrance oil as they like and giving them control of both their fragrance experience and their spending.

Will consumers pay for these added features and products made from new green materials? Just try finding a Scentbug in Bath & Body Works. While researching this feature, four of five stores visited were sold out—though promised more were on the way—demonstrating a clear expression of consumer demand.