Time to air out the dirty laundry: The power of fragrance in homecare


1. VP of Research & Innovation, HCD Research
2. Manager of Behavior & Marketing Science, HCD Research


Fragrance is an important factor to consider in many homecare products. The smell of an air freshener or the scent folded into surface cleaner can drastically change the way a consumer perceives the product. For example, the right fragrance can make a functional product, like most homecare items, more sophisticated. The wide variety of unscented and scented candles shows how consumers will pay top dollar to bring the right aroma into their space. Evoking certain emotions with the right scent is an easy way to add value to the product; however, it is important to make sure the scent meets the right expectations. Context is a major consideration to ensure the appropriate scent is being used. Is this product seasonal? Who uses it? What time of day? Focusing on these types of questions to better connect with the consumer through fragrances helps elevate the brand, creating an opportunity for homecare companies to uncover the sweet smell of success.

Clorox Cleaning Disinfectant wipes “make cleaning easy” with “crisp lemon” and “fresh scent.” Febreze fabric refresher is marketed for freshening up fabrics that can’t, are hard to, or haven’t been washed. Glade air fresheners offer a “familiar feeling of clean comfort”. Fragrance is important in homecare. But what exactly is it doing?


Homecare products include anything that consumers use to maintain the interior of the home and can range from cleaning products to decorative products to various gadgets that simplify our lives. Subtle features of those products, such as fragrance in the disinfecting wipes, can be designed to not only elevate consumer satisfaction (liking the scent) or mood, but also act as a signal or cue about the home and the homeowner.


Our sense of smell is incredibly important, not only for our survival (sensing dangerous predators, leaking gas, or rotting food) but also our psychology and in influencing our behaviors. Research has shown that scent can help us recognize our relatives, choose our mates and even communicate to others to some degree (ex: ...