Home Fragrances Luxe Treatment
Packaging for home fragrances conveys an upscale look—with minimal logos, innovative containers, and more attention placed on design—in hopes that consumers will want to prominently display the items at home.
The “Joy” reed diffuser by Archipelago Botanicals is adorned with silver decoration and a red tie for the holidays.
Home fragrances are being launched more often by beauty and personal care brands—and candles are especially popular. Many beauty companies will now include a candle as part of a new fragrance launch.
Candles accounted for 40% of the total home fragrance market in 2011, according to Kline & Company. The candle category grew at a 3.3% rate in 2011, as the recovery from 2008’s downturn continued.
“Candles are an affordable luxury,” says Ron Harl, president, Alene Candles LLC, a full-service contract manufacturer based in Milford, NH. “The entire home fragrance market is strong. Consumers turn to certain products, such as candles or reed diffusers, to dress up their homes in tough economies.” And the trend has benefited Alene. Harl says Alene’s business has been improving over the past several years, and the company opened a multi-million dollar facility in New Albany, OH, last July. The manufacturer works with many beauty and personal care brands, including Limited Brands, Estée Lauder, Crabtree & Evelyn, Coty, Williams-Sonoma and L’Oréal.
Yankee Candle also has a positive outlook on the market. “During tougher economies, people tend to spend more time at home entertaining family and friends instead of going out. Our candles are perfect for this situation because they add to the decor, and they create a warm and welcoming home,” says Hope Margala Klein, executive vice president, brand, design and innovation, Yankee Candle.
The future forecast is bright, according to Kline & Company. Candle sales are expected to increase at a CAGR of 3.0% during the 2011-2016 forecast period, with new product activity expected to be “moderately high.”
In terms of packaging, giving candles—or any home fragrance item—a more “luxe” look has been a trend, and with good reason. “The category’s growth rate was fueled by premium-priced candles sold at specialty and department stores, as well as websites such as candleluxury.com,” says Karen Doskow, industry manager, consumer products practice, Kline & Company. The company’s research shows that the luxury segment accounted for the majority of the sales increase, with near 5% growth, while the mass segment increase was minimal.
“Glass vessels in sleek shapes, contemporary ceramic holders, and decorative tins dominated new product launches in 2011, in both luxury and mass segments,” says Doskow.
These are trends that seem to have continued in 2012, as these recent launches demonstrate.
A candle’s package has to serve a dual purpose—inspire a purchase, while also being a stylish object that the consumer will want to display.
Yankee Candle is a market leader in the candle category. The brand relies on a prominent label to help sell the product at the point-of-purchase; the label is typically decorated with a vibrantly colored fragrance image.
“Making sure the customer clearly understands our fragrances is very important to us. The combination of the color of the candle, the image on the label, and the name of the candle all work together to clearly describe the scent,” says Klein. She describes this design and marketing strategy as giving the consumer a “true to label” experience.
However, even Yankee Candle has recently been inspired by the current “luxe” trend for candles, which translates to a more minimalist look for packaging. The brand launched its Pure Radiance collection in its retail store locations this year, and its packaging is a definite departure from its typical aesthetic.
Candles, in colors inspired by home and decor trends, are in clear, tapered cylinders. There’s no decoration on the container, except for a small, screened logo. There is a label on the lid with fragrance imagery, to provide fragrance recognition. Klein says, “This collection was designed to appeal to consumers that are attracted to a more contemporary style.”
Pure Radiance candles also contain a new patent-pending cotton wick, called Lumiwick. It emits a wide, flat flame, which contributes to this collection’s modern look. The new Pure Radiance holiday collection features its Crackling Lumiwick, which is designed to be reminiscent of a crackling wood fire as it burns.
Ceramic candleholders are a trend noted by Kline & Company, and experts agree. “I’ve been seeing a lot of interest in ceramic containers in novelty shapes,” says Alene’s Harl. “We have a team that spots trends, and sources new packaging, and presents it to our customers,” he adds. “This year, ceramic owl-shaped containers were hugely popular for us,” he adds.
Joya’s new co-branded collaboration with fashion designer Hervé Leger features a candle in a handmade, reusable porcelain ceramic holder.
Joya also uses unique containers, including ceramic porcelain. In fact, company owner Frederick Bouchardy likes porcelain so much that he opened a slip casting ceramic studio within his facility. Joya is a niche luxury candle brand, which also has a co-branding manufacturing business, similar to private label.
“We have a partnership with ceramic artist, Sarah Cihat,” says Bouchardy. “We were making soap dishes, candles and diffusers, all in ceramic containers, and we weren’t happy with the quality we were finding from abroad. So when we decided to work with porcelain, it made sense to open our own studio,” he explains.
Joya’s most recent launch was a collaboration with the Paris fashion house, Hervé L. Leroux. Bouchardy met the designer, Hervé Leger, at his boutique, and was inspired by his creativity and passion for design.
“I wanted to create a rough interpretation of his style—something that looked sculptural and handmade, with a New York edge,” explains Bouchardy.
The resulting candle’s matte black porcelain container is loosely reminiscent of the designer’s iconic draped dresses—complete with a bias-cut top edge. “I like the idea that it isn’t just packaging—it is an item that can be reused, which is better than thinking about recycling.”
Supporting local suppliers, near Joya Studio in Brooklyn, NY, is important to Bouchardy. “All our folding cartons and liners are from Ares packaging, which is a few blocks away from our studio—for me, it’s so important to source locally.”
Tins are another trend, and they can be a very affordable option. “Metal is appealing as a quality material that can be used to differentiate a product. It offers a workable price value relationship,” says Virginia Price, CEO and founder, Planet Canit.
Aquiesse, a luxury brand sold at Sak’s Fifth Avenue, as well as in specialty boutiques, recently worked with Planet Canit to create a decorative tin for its new candle. “We needed to create a candle that could be sold at a lower price point, but it had to still fit in with our brand’s high-end look and design aesthetic,” says Mike Horn, founder, Aquiesse.
Planet Canit helped Horn create a one-of-a-kind tin with a 3D wave design. The logo-embossed lid opens, revealing a secondary compartment that holds custom designed matches. When placed underneath the body of the tin, the lid becomes a tray that protects furniture from heat.
“Many aspects of Mike’s design were challenging to execute, and it took nine months of technical design before we were even ready to make a sample,” says Price.
Matching Horn’s color specification was one challenge. “We created the tin using a special metal, which gave the deep brown color a glistening effect,” says Price. Another hurdle was making sure the inner lid for the match compartment was secure enough to remain in place during shipment. “It was also necessary for the inner cover to be consumer friendly, so it could be removed with ease. There were many, many little details to work out,” adds Price.
Planet Canit used a patented process to execute Horn’s wave pattern design. “While metal is flexible, it does have limitations. Our patented process allows for the integrity of the candle and the capability of the metal to be integrated, making it possible to create this pattern—because metal can easily tear, split, or buckle as it moves in irregular ways,” Price explains. “Our toolmaker’s expertise helped us achieve this—taking metal capability to the max to achieve Mike’s vision,” says Price.
Another challenge was the fact that ink has a tendency to lift when it comes in contact with the fragrance in a candle. “This would cause flaking and contamination with the wax,” says Price. For this reason, the inner lid couldn’t be printed, but it still needed directions for use. “We used multi-level embossing for the wording and design so that it became very defined and readable without the use of standard ink printing,” Price explains.
Horn was happy with his supplier choice. “Many other vendors simply take orders, and when a technical challenge arises, they don’t think twice about compromising on the design,” says Horn. “Virginia’s discerning approach to quality standards helped us to launch this product,” he says.
Decorating glass for a candleholder or reed diffuser can get much more complex than it does for a beauty package. Designs get especially detailed for holiday launches.
Archipelago Botanicals is a brand with sparkly silver candle jars and reed diffusers in its holiday collection this year. The deco sparkles, and it’s accented with a red tie. The packaging is designed to look festive, and appropriate to give as a present, according to the brand.
Suppliers say they often see lots of metallic colors this time of year. “We always do a lot of silver and gold sprays for the holidays,” says John Schofield, owner of ScreenTech/SprayeTech.
ScreenTech has decorating expertise specific to home fragrance packaging. The supplier counts contract manufacturers among its customers, but also works directly with brands including BBW and White Barn. One process it has been using for the past five years allows multiple colors to be indexed accurately. “This allows us to orient the glass and apply a multi-color decoration, because a candle holder typically lacks the indentation lug that a cosmetic package has, which helps with alignment,” he explains.
Another advantage ScreenTech offers is color-mixing expertise. “Most spray houses decorate packaging, but don’t do their own color blending. Another company mixes the color, and sends it to the decorator,” explains Schofield. “We do our own color matching in-house, which can be a major benefit because it creates efficiency, flexibility and tighter color control.”
ScreenTech’s customers will send the supplier a color target to match. “Since we’re in control of making the color, we can achieve tight variances from lot to lot, and run to run,” Schofield explains.
ScreenTech also owns a patented piece of equipment that dispenses up to a100th of a gram of color, and this offers many blending benefits. It allows for more accuracy due to the fact that there is little variation each time a new batch of color is mixed, no matter who is operating the machine,” Schofield explains.
Although many brands sell candles without boxes, they can be necessary to protect glass. The carton also provides ample space for decorating—to convey a brand’s mage, marketing message, or a visual representation of the candle’s scent. This is especially important if your candle is minimally decorated.
Origins is one of Alene’s many customers that doesn’t use a label, or any decoration on its candles—but the boxes have colorful patterns that are designed to attract attention on store shelves. Alene supplies the candle and packaging, turnkey for Origins. “The boxes were printed on post-consumer recycled stock,” says Karen Mainenti, creative director, Alene Candles.
There are also a few unique elements that can be useful to incorporate into a box’s design that are advantageous for marketing candles. The box made for Origins’ candles has an inner sleeve, which Mainenti calls a “slide and sniff” feature. The sleeve traps the fragrance inside the box. Sliding it to open will let a concentrated amount of fragrance escape.
Telescoping boxes are also a popular style for candles. “As you pull the top off, the consumer will get a nice whiff of scent,” says Harl. “Sometimes a brand will want to incorporate the ability to smell the candle’s scent right through the box,” he explains. “Tiny holes will be added to the top of the box, and inner liner,” he explains.
What if your candle is sold without a box, and you still want the consumer to be able to experience a strong scent when they hold up the candle to their nose?
“Any type of lid—metal or disposable plastic—will work. So long as there is a little headspace, where air will be trapped between the top of the candle and the lid,” says Harl. He adds, “When the consumer lifts up the lid to smell the candle, they’ll get a concentrated burst, enticing them to make a purchase. And that’s always the goal for us, as well as for our customers.”