Demand for fragrances is flourishing in China when customers as diverse as sophisticated young Chinese consumers and high-end business retailers are increasingly buying many different kinds of products to brighten lives or attract customers.
That demand has also caused more foreign fragrance makers to increase investment in China.
ScentAir, the world's biggest scent-marketing firm in terms of business scale and global distribution networks, said it is confident that China has the largest long-term and short-term growth opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2015, ScentAir, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the United States, entered the China market, and its business in China had more than doubled a year before COVID-19 hit. Most of the growth came from hotels, including Marriott Hotel Group. Other major customers in China include car dealers and retailers whose business model requires lots of customer contact and service.
"Smell is the only sense directly connected to the brain's limbic system and deals with long-term memory, emotion and behavior. This is why we see more brands in China are adopting scent marketing as one of their key marketing strategies for customer engagement," said Chloe Hui, vice-president and general manager of the Asia-Pacific region for ScentAir.
The company said that in general, Chinese consumers prefer a light floral scent with sophisticated layers of flourishing flowers balanced with hints of citrus and wood. Fragrances with distinctive Chinese elements are also favored.
"Chinese people love their culture, traditions, food and things that are distinctively theirs. We can mix and match to create virtually any taste. For example, we created a Chinese collection with fragrances of oolong tea, green bamboo and other elements," Hui said.
The pandemic has also brought changes and created new opportunities. China's tourism sector now relies more on domestic than international travel. Meanwhile, the number of luxury hotel rooms in China is expected to grow to 658,248 in 2023 from 422,561 in 2018, according to Research and Markets, a large international market research company.
ScentAir said it plans to seek more business from shopping malls. China has 4,000 shopping centers, which is three times more than the figure in the US, and that number is expected to grow to 10,000 by 2025, said a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Also, because COVID-19 can affect people's ability to taste and smell, more research is being conducted on scents, according to a recent report by global fashion trend forecasting service provider WGSN.
Consumers are seeking fragrances and household cleaning products that are seen to improve home air quality.
Last year, the global household cleaning products market was valued at $218.9 billion. It is expected to hit $341.6 billion by 2030. Organic products have the highest potential for growth, as health-conscious consumers refocus their attention on issues such as ethical sourcing and the climate crisis, the WGSN report said.
Retailers should make sure ingredients are as natural and organic as possible when designing fragrances, diffusers and candles, explore materials that eliminate odors without the use of heavy fragrances and consider utilizing traditional materials such as beeswax and bamboo charcoal in new products, WGSN said.
Tamburins, a South Korean fragrance brand of Gentle Monster, itself a sunglasses and optical company, launched its first brick-and-mortar store in Shanghai in late September and its online flagship store on Tmall in October. The company said it plans to further expand its presence in China, as it is bullish on the growth potential of the fragrance market in the country.
At its flagship store in Shanghai, which occupies about 500 square meters, consumers get to experience a combination of fragrance and art. Shoppers can buy scented hand creams, multifunction fragrances, fragrances for homes and scented washing products, as well as scented candles.
Tamburins said it has seen steadily growing sales in China. Generation Z consumers－those born in the mid-to-late 1990s and the early 2000s－are among the primary consumers of fragrances as more young people pursue sophisticated and stylish lifestyles.
"Most of the online consumers of Tamburins are young females who live in first or second-tier cities. With the company's increasingly comprehensive rollout in China, we expect more types of new fragrance customers," Tamburins said.
"With ongoing consumption upgrades in China, fragrance serves as a niche market segment that has seen growth in recent years. Tamburins is fully confident in its future growth potential," the company said.
"Tamburins has insisted on independent research and development, and hopes to satisfy the constantly changing demand that has emerged from China's fragrance market."