Candles have been growing in popularity since the first Egyptian dipped a reed core into animal fat and lit up the night back around 3000 BC. The industry has evolved dramatically since then, but the candle mystique still holds our imagination and our emotions to this day.
2022 is forecast to be a banner year for the candle industry. In 2021 sales in the US topped $3.14 billion, growing by some 20% over the previous year. Estimates see home fragrance sales growing by about $1.4 billion over the next 3 years.
So, what candle designs are fueling current trends? As I’m sure you know, candles come in a full spectrum of styles, colors, scents and sentiments.
According to the National Candle Association, container and jar candles are by far the most popular of all candles – garnering about 56% of all home fragrance sales. Behind jar candles are loose tapers, air fresheners, and flameless LED candles. Natural and Eco-friendly candles claim about 27% of all sales, evenly split with soy wax candles at 27% as well. Diffusers, warmers, and melters are at the bottom.
The most important factors to consumers are scent, color, cost and shape -- with the fragrance being the core deciding factor. In a recent study ¾’s of all regular candle consumers said that scent was “extremely important” in their purchasing decision.
While it’s estimated that there are more than 10,000 unique home fragrance blends in the USA alone, some research shows that candles that offer a floral or botanical scent are the most popular. Next are outdoorsy scents that conjure the beach or the forest into your home. Food scents such as vanilla, pumpkin or champagne are third.
But as it turns out, scent preferences may vary from state to state in the US. The Shane Company recently conducted a survey to reveal what scents perform the best throughout the country. Basing their findings on google search data, the company came up with the following results.
Most of the states in our country have a favorite scent that falls into one of nine main categories: pumpkin, vanilla, citrus, coconut, gardenia, lavender, lemon, rose and peppermint.
Pumpkin is the most popular scent (I wonder if they conducted this research in September or October?) Vanilla is second, and florals are third.
Arkansas, Washington D.C., Delaware, Maine, Mississippi, New Mexico, Rhode Island and West Virginia are pumpkin states.
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, South Carolina and Virginia are big on vanilla.
Florida, Massachusetts, Missouri, Tennessee and Washington like their citrus scents the best.
Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin have a preference for lavender, rose and gardenia candles.
Google searches and surveys alone are probably not conclusive when it comes to the true popularity of candle scents from brand to brand. Fragrance preferences tend to be “sentimental” and are usually influenced by past experiences and conjured memories.
And of course, fragrances are not all created equally – the quality of essential and fragrance oils used, and specific blends of top and bottom notes can make one floral smell like flowers, and another smell like plastic.
Keep in mind that the National Candle Association reports that 9 out of 10 candle consumers buy them to make their homes feel comfortable and cozy when designing scents. 1 in 5 shoppers say they use candles to decorate the outdoor living spaces of their homes as well.
While home fragrance is very popular year-round, the lion’s share of sales happen around the holidays – not a surprise. About 35% of all candle sales happen then.
The most common place to burn candles is in the living room – respondents to a recent survey said that they burned them there about 42% of the time, followed by 18% in the kitchen and 13% in the bedroom.