Consumer Survey Insights: Fragrance Preferences

Consumer Survey Insights: Fragrance Preferences

Consumers’ retreat into the home has affected scent preferences

During the last year, people have spent more time at home due to pandemic restrictions. This can be observed in the 28% of global consumers who prefer scents that are refreshing/revitalizing, because they desire to maintain their attention when working from home or they seek a boost of energy to seize the day. Moreover, people like their homes to smell clean, which can explain their preference for scents that smell clean and are comforting. With hand sanitizers being very common nowadays, consumers will be looking for fragrances that embrace cleanliness.

Consumers are concerned about their mental health or how they will carry on with their lives when they have had financial constraints or their loved ones have been impacted by the pandemic. As a result, 22% of consumers globally prefer scents that help them to relax to reduce distress and anxiety. For instance, consumers use fragrances with calming properties for their personal care such as those used in aromatherapy.

Floral scents are the most popular, with 30% of consumers globally preferring them for their personal care and household products. This is followed by fresh scents at 24%, fruity at 23%, and citrus at 22%. This explains the consumer interest in unprocessed products that offer natural ingredients or heightened freshness.

Global: overview across all categories

Consumer Survey Insights: Fragrance Preferences – Floral and revitalizing scents are the top favorites across all categories

Floral and fresh scents are preferred for personal and household care

Floral scents are preferred in all sub-categories for both personal and household care. Fresh fragrances are also popular because consumers are seeking effective ingredients and pure formulations that improve their personal health and wellbeing. As such, they may perceive products with fresh scents as having a positive impact on their health, as well as being “cleaner.”

Freshness has become a very important consumer trend during the last year. Consumers are more selective in what products they add to their carts and opt for those that make a great improvement in their daily lives.

Consumer Survey Insights: Fragrance Preferences – Home fragrances registers as one of the categories with the highest percentages across scent profiles, as consumers are most open to variability in this category

Hygiene and mental wellbeing as key considerations

43% of global consumers are interested in scents that help them to relax for home fragrances. They opt for products that improve their sense of wellbeing and make their home a comforting place to stay in.

As perfumes and deodorants are products that will be used for a long period of time, consumers opt for scents that are refreshing or revitalizing.

Consumers prefer household care and laundry products that smell clean as they are cautious about having a hygienic living environment.  They will likely select products that maintain a comforting hygienic smell. 

Consumer Survey Insights: Fragrance Preferences – Scents that improve the state of mind and encourage cleanliness are preferred

Reduce or avoid artificial ingredients in skincare and haircare

Floral, fresh, and fruity scents are the most popular in these categories, which is aligned with the fresh and natural consumer trend. Consumers are health-conscious and trying to live more healthily while paying attention to what they are consuming. Brands can align with this behavior by developing “natural” fragrance formulations that are floral, fresh, or fruity while providing transparency about the list of ingredients contained within their products.

Consumers scrutinize the ingredients included in their skincare and haircare products. Consequently, products that feature ”free-from” claims could be of interest to these consumers. Consumers who are interested in “free-from claims” may also seek skincare products that are free from artificial ingredients and that are unscented. For instance, this is reflected on the data, 33% of Japanese consumers find the unscented scent appealing in skincare. In haircare, the herbal scent is found very appealing by 31% of Indian consumers. 

Skincare  and haircare

Consumer Survey Insights: Fragrance Preferences – Consumers are interested in floral, fresh, and fruity fragrances, highlighting an opportunity for brands to align with the “fresh and natural” consumer trend

Bath and shower products should encourage self-care at home

The pandemic has caused people to spend most of their time at home. Therefore, bath time is something that can be used to relax or revitalize after a long day of working from home. Concern about mental wellbeing has increased as a result of this uncertain period, which creates in people the need to find a way to destress. Half of the global consumers are extremely concerned about their mental health. Consumers interested in scents that help them to relax find floral scents most appealing, and this sentiment rises among younger generations.

Consumers desire holistic wellbeing that involves products with a positive impact daily. Thus, they seek to enhance their mood. The floral scent is the most preferred as it can improve the bath and shower experience. Flowers such as lavender and ylang-ylang help people relax2 and are used in aromatherapy. They could therefore be used to recreate a spa experience with bath products.

Bath and shower

Consumer Survey Insights: Fragrance Preferences – Consumers desire to relax, and incorporate into their personal hygiene routine ingredients that allow them to destress and improve their wellbeing

Perfumes are chosen by consumers to feel refreshed and help them to define their identity

Consumers appreciate scents that improve their state of mind and make them feel more comfortable. They also seek refreshing scents that revitalize them and make them feel livelier, which is reflected by the data: 30% of global consumers choose refreshing scents, followed by 23% who choose comforting scents.

Asia and Australia are where most consumers choose floral, fresh, or fruity scents. Among female consumers the preferred scent is floral. Data shows 31% of global female consumers choose floral. In the case of male consumers, fresh scent is the most popular (23%), with the floral coming second (20%) and fruity third (18%). In addition, men are more likely than women to choose marine, spice, or leather scents, while the opposite is true for sweet fragrances.

Through perfume, consumers can express who they are and how they feel. The data shows that 28% of consumers globally spend a medium amount on perfumes, followed by 18% who buy high-end/premium versions.


Consumer Survey Insights: Fragrance Preferences – Brands should consider targeting Asia with fresh and floral perfume scents

Deodorants that leave a fresh aroma are appealing

Personal hygiene has become more important to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Seeking fresh aromas that bring a feeling of cleanliness for much longer is considered when purchasing a deodorant. The pandemic has fueled stress among the population and one of stress’s side effects is a sweat that smells worse than when exercising2. Therefore, consumers will pursue avoiding this unpleasant smell.

Most consumers prefer floral, fresh, and citrus scents for deodorants. Fresh scents are most preferred in North America while floral and citrus scents are preferred in Central and South America. Brands could have these regions in mind when introducing new deodorants that contain these scents.

Consumers might decide to try unscented deodorants due to the sensitivity of their skin. North American consumers are the most interested in unscented deodorants. The data also shows that 20% of Silent Generation consumers prefer an unscented deodorant, potentially to avoid any discomfort related to their skin when having contact with a particular scent.


Consumer Survey Insights: Fragrance Preferences – Consumers are more interested in floral, fresh, and citrus scents that leave a refreshed feeling to avoid unpleasant body odor

Wellness-centric fragrances

The negative impact on mental health caused by the pandemic is encouraging consumers to include products that improve their mood daily.

Brands should select ingredients and fragrances that bring a positive effect on consumers and help them to reduce stress and fatigue. For example, including innovative technologies to change the fragrance composition to positively impact consumers.

Driving sustainability

The coronavirus pandemic has encouraged people to focus on creating a better world. As a result, consumers are making more environmentally friendly, sustainable, and ethical purchases. They are shopping locally or from small businesses to reduce the environmental impact of their shopping habits.

Brands should include sustainable and ethical ingredients and fragrances in their portfolios to reduce the possibility of a negative environmental footprint.

unscented fragrances

Unscented fragrances

Many people have lost their sense of smell as a result of COVID-19, which is known as anosmia1. These consumers can recognize texture, but are not able to taste or smell a product. To address this, brands can include an accurate description of the product’s aroma or create products without fragrances.

In skincare, consumers are opting for unscented options because they have fragrance sensitivity or have been diagnosed with a fragrance allergy.

Fresh and natural ingredients

Fresh and natural ingredients

Consumers are proactively seeking products that contain “natural” and organic ingredients. The floral scent is preferred among consumers as it brings freshness and evokes raw materials. Brands should focus on botanical ingredients to add natural connotations.

Find inspiration from forest or marine environments to develop a collection that recreates the feeling of being near the sea or countryside. Develop products in small batches to demonstrate the freshness and effectiveness of natural fragrances.

Source: [1] The Guardian, December 2020; [2] GlobalData’s 2021 Q2 global consumer survey; Images from Unsplash and Pixabay

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