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Global Air Care

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

page 3 of 4

Japanese consumer behavior is similar to that displayed by consumers in Western Europe and North America. They demand much more than simply odor masking capabilities. Consumers are particularly interested in lifestyle aspects, such as outer appearance and odor-destroying features.

In Japan, gel fresheners are the most popular format, and sales rose by 16.5% in 2005, generating $213 million in revenue. Liquid fresheners proved to be the second most popular format. The leading brand is Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co Ltd’s Sawaday, which commands a 25% market share. Electric air fresheners were expected to be a big hit when first launched in Japan. However, they proved to be so unpopular that some manufacturers discontinued production within 24 months. In order to try and boost sales of electric devices, some manufacturers have released novel combination products. First made available in 2004, Hakugen Mezamashi’s Aromu product combines air care with an alarm clock. This gadget releases fragrance half an hour before the alarm time—reportedly, this helps the user to wake up feeling more relieved and relaxed.

Japanese consumers also are interested in limited edition products, and a number of manufacturers have focused on providing limited edition fragrances in an effort to boost market share. Kobayashi launched limited edition fragrances according to seasons, such as sakura during the spring and a snow fragrance during the winter. Apart from fragrances, Kobayashi also put extra effort into the packaging design of the limited editions.

Minor Markets See Growth

The dynamics in the minor regional markets of Eastern Europe, Latin America and Africa/Middle East differ largely from those of more developed regions. Disposable income levels are lower, and air care is considered less of a priority. The traditional spray freshener is the most prevalent device in all of these regions—with SC Johnson’s Glade and Reckitt Benckiser’s Air Wick continuing to be the most popular brands.

As economic conditions improve, the popularity of devices other than traditional sprays will grow. In Eastern Europe, for example, liquid air fresheners are becoming increasingly popular, with a staggering growth of 293% during the past three years—albeit from a low base. This growth has been facilitated by the introduction of Sara Lee’s Ambi-Pur brand in 2002 and the 2004 introduction of Glade liquid air fresheners.