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Global Air Care

By: Briony Davies
Posted: December 5, 2006, from the December 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

According to Euromonitor International, the global air care market has been the most dynamic sector in the household care arena since 2001. Sales of household care products, excluding air care, have grown by 14% over the past five years, however, revenues from air care products alone have increased by nearly 30% over the same period—reaching $6.4 billion in 2005. This increased dynamism is being driven by consumers’ changing attitudes toward the home environment and a slew of new product developments.

Reign of the Big Three

Three players dominate global air care: SC Johnson, Reckitt Benckiser and Sara Lee Corp. The three control nearly 60% of the market, and each of these companies’ share of the market has remained stable since 2001—apart from Reckitt Benckiser, which saw a 4% jump in its share. This was as a result of the popularity of new products, such as Air Wick Mobil’ Air and Air Wick Freshmatic, launched during 2004 and 2005 respectively.

However, the makeup of the industry is likely to change as a result of P&G’s decision to enter the market in 2004 with its Febreze brand. Febreze was already a powerful brand within fabric fresheners, and P&G decided to extend its range into the air care arena, initially through the launch of a traditional spray. The range now has been extended to include plug-in devices. Spray fresheners are the largest subsegment globally, generating revenues of $1.8 billion in 2005. While the device has changed little over time, the range of fragrances available and how the spray interacts with odor have changed considerably. Air Wick Odourstop and SC Johnson’s Oust promote a new air treatment philosophy where the spray destroys the odor-causing bacteria instead of simply masking the smell. Although this new fragrance technology was initially only available in traditional sprays, new delivery systems now are becoming commonplace—notably, electric devices.

The Lion’s Share

Western Europe and North America dominate global air care sales; combined, they command a 71% market share. According to Euromonitor International, Western Europe was the largest region, generating $2.3 billion in 2005. This compares to $2.2 billion spent in North America. The largest subsegment in Western Europe is spray air fresheners, which represent nearly a third of the overall market. The sector has been boosted in recent years by the development of concentrated sprays that offer a longer-lasting fragrance than standard aerosols. Most manufacturers simply have extended existing spray brands into this format rather than create new brands, new odor busting sprays for example.

In North America, sprays account for approximately a fifth of total air care. This is considerably less than the revenue generated in Western Europe, which may reflect different attitudes across the two regions. In the U.S., the largest category is electric air fresheners, which commanded a 37% market share in 2005. This difference indicates that consumers in North America are more likely to want a permanent scent presence in their homes, while Western European consumers like the flexibility offered by spray fresheners. The launch of Air Wick Freshmatic in 2005 created a totally new area within sprays—automatic battery-operated sprays. These devices allow the user to select the interval at which the fragrance is released.