Following a year of respectable performance in 2019 with 4.2% sales gains, the U.S. home fragrances market is poised to end the year with flat growth, which is considered an outstanding result in these uncertain times.
Home scent products, notably candles, have become a category of comfort and escapism for housebound consumers in 2020, moving from a desirable purchase to a quarantine essential. Despite a significant number of non-essential store closures in March and April—more than 15,000 brick-and-mortar locations selling home fragrances shuttered doors for a few months during the onset of the pandemic—strong demand for home fragrance products during COVID-19 are predicted to prevent declines in this market in 2020. This is because marketers have been able to shift gears quickly and respond with positive initiatives:
- Luxury and specialty brands are prioritizing digital. Store closures of non-essential retail have forced luxury and specialty players to lean on e-commerce and digital platforms. Lafco introduced a digital program to support its local retailer partners that were forced to shutter doors. Meanwhile, newcomer Cancelled Plans, which launched in 2019 and sells through its own e-commerce platform, has gained traction with its brand name that appeals to consumers in quarantine. The brand’s most recent launch was a candle called “I Miss High Fives.”
- The market has seen new entrants amid the pandemic. Several new brands have entered the market during COVID-19, and niche indie players have gained momentum, benefiting from the positive traction that candles have seen this year. Sephora introduced a line of candles under its private-label line, Sephora Collection, and Elle West, a new brand based in Los Angeles, launched online in June.
- New categories are on the horizon. Brands that cross categories, like Bath & Body Works, are seeing traction with their ancillary items like hand sanitizers and body lotions. This continues to be a theme in the market, as NEST recently debuted its kitchen collection, featuring all-purpose cleaners and dish soaps. Meanwhile, several newcomers to the market are slated to enter personal care and body care categories by the end of the year.
While the forecast is stable for candles and other home scent products, uncertainty still exists as the rising number of coronavirus cases in the United States could result in re-closures of non-essential retailers in the short term. To learn more about key trends and dynamics that shaped the market in 2019 and what’s ahead for the remainder of 2020 and 2021 as home fragrance marketers navigate the current retail environment, please refer to our annual Home Fragrances USA report. Our recently published Home Fragrances: U.S. Market Brief includes an outlook section taking into consideration the impact of COVID while exploring key topics such as total industry size and growth, market drivers, category and channel sales breakdown, and data points for leading and emerging brands.