Fragrance is considered by all manufacturers of cleaning products to be an important factor for them – and it has become more important over the years – according to a new international survey.
Conducted by European Cleaning Journal (ECJ) and IFRA UK, the fragrance association for the United Kingdom, the survey questioned readers of ECJ from across Europe and also the aerosol manufacturers’ association, BAMA. Makers of cleaning products and air-care manufacturers were asked for their views on the importance of fragrance when creating goods.
For makers of air care products, the view was again that fragrance was an essential element with all those for whom this question was relevant again stating it was ‘very’ or ‘quite’ important to them. For these the majority – two thirds – said that both the strength and the character of the fragrance were equally important. The character of the fragrance was the most important factor however for just under a quarter of respondents.
In personal care, of course, fashion and other trends are crucial in guiding fragrance creation. The survey explored whether this was true of washroom, cleaning and air-care products too. The answer from those who responded to this question was mixed. All expressed strong awareness of current trends but over half of these respondents said that they were ‘not influenced’ and that wider trends did affect how their goods are fragranced.
Customer attitudes to fragrance is, by contrast, important but not always the key factor. Whereas for just over half of all respondents (55%) fragrance is very important and an aspect about which they care strongly, for the remainder of respondents (45%) it was reported that whilst customers mention fragrance this is less important than factors such as price. As one respondent said, however, “End-users will not purchase products without fragrance”.
Interestingly, fragrance has, for the majority, become more important over the last decade although some respondents noted no change over the past 10 years. One respondent commented: “This hasn’t changed for standard products but for ecological and health-related products, the fragrance element has got more restrictive for such applications”. Another respondent said: “An important change in the use of fragrances is related to the Ecolabel registration. We have several product ranges with Ecolabel and this limits the selection of fragrances to use in our formulation – not only in terms of what kind of fragrance but also how much to use. Customers’ fragrance requirement cannot always be satisfied”.
One company commented on the importance of fragrance for odour masking or re-odorising. Where products are used in health settings, the well-being of patients is important, along with hygiene and so the aroma-therapy benefits of essential oils are found to be important to this segment of the market.
One respondent said that whilst cleaning products had not, in his company’s opinion, changed much over a decade, the air freshener market has changed significantly. “The market has become seasonal with new fragrances introduced as ‘summer’ or ‘winter’ ranges”.
For those who sell products internationally, the responses were evenly split between those who purchase different fragrances to sell equivalent goods in different geographical areas. One example given was that a product sold in Spain has a different fragrance for Germany whilst in Nordic countries the fragrance must be less strong. Another pointed to the Middle East having different requirements with Oudh used for products there which is not the case for UK products. Others however, include the same fragrances everywhere.
One respondent said that user preferences were driven by fragrance trends in different geographical areas so that different fragrances are used in different countries or regions. It was also noted that “In recent years, chemical regulations have also driven the need for this geographical diversity, despite the competing trend of globalisation”.
He explained: “Both consumer and professional cleaning and air-care products would carry a ‘chemical’ smell without any fragrance being present. Masking that initial smell has always been important and from that initial position, product differentiation and preference based on fragrance character has always been critical”.
In summary, the picture which emerged is that fragrances play a crucial role as an influence in purchasing. “Fragrance is an important factor for the acceptance of a product, independent from the performance. Buying decisions are always influenced by the product performance and also by its fragrance,” said one respondent.
Lisa Hipgrave, director of IFRA UK, said: “Cleaning products and air-care are an important sector for perfumers and fragrance houses. Often, it is fragrance that is the invisible difference in buyers selecting products. Crucially fragrance plays a role in hygiene as it can reflect the ambience of the place in question and also encourage cleanliness – hand-wash, for instance, when pleasantly fragranced, encourages more enthusiastic use and therefore better hand hygiene amongst children. The starting point when considering fragrance is not the character or the scent but the need to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for the product in question. By using an IFRA UK member, manufacturers, distributors and end-users can be assured that the fragrance will be fit for the intended purpose”.