Despite being mostly homebound, the pandemic saw more people than ever reaching out for a spritz of their favorite fragrances.
According to market research firm NPD Group, fragrances (personal care) rose a record-breaking 45% in Q1 of 2021.  They became “a means to lift our spirits”, as having a familiar scent helped people escape to a simpler time, the research found.
This quickly gave rise to another interesting phenomenon. The need to escape or enhance one’s mood began to spill over to the household care segment too.
Household Care as Self Care
Major brands like Clorox focused their marketing message on not just the cleaning prowess of their products but their scent. For example, the Clorox Scentiva line featured products like Tuscan Lavender and Jasmine Multi-Purpose Cleaner and Pacific Breeze and Coconut Toilet Cleaner which were designed to whisk customers away to their perfect holiday destination.
In fact, in March 2021, Clorox appointed actor Billy Porter to help drive home this message: “The whole point of the partnership that I’m doing with Clorox Scentiva is to help the world re-imagine their cleaning routine as a means of self-care, as opposed to it being a chore. I didn’t even know what self-care meant until recently.” 
Indeed, there has been a change in perception when it comes to cleaning. A 2021 study by the American Cleaning Institute found that 57% of Americans saw cleaning as an “act of caring for yourself and others” while only 30% saw cleaning as a chore. 
The Rise of Functional Fragrance
More than just a means to escape and improve one’s overall mood, more and more companies are incorporating functional fragrances into their products i.e., fragrances that deliver a specific benefit to the user’s mental well-being.
Luxury home cleaning brand The Laundress strategically used sleep-promoting ingredients like chamomile and sandalwood in its Deep Relax Signature Detergent, “ideal for laundering linens, bedding, and loungewear to help create a tranquil space.” 
Meanwhile, its Support Breathe Dish Soap, featuring ingredients like eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree essential oils, is meant to energize users as they take on household chores.
Mainstream brands like P&G’s Gain are also hopping on the bandwagon. The Gain with Essential Oils laundry detergent line uses essential oils to deliver specific effects, from alertness (orange and grapefruit) to calmness (lavender and chamomile).
Our Most-Requested Scents
Indeed, even at OnScent, our labs have seen an uptick in the use of scents to promote mental well-being.
OnScent senior evaluator Monica Kozlowski spills the beans on some of the most-requested scents by mood:
Top Scents by Mood
- Happy: Citruses such as Orange and Grapefruit; and juicy fruits such as Peaches, Pears, and Pineapples
- Relaxing/Sleep-Promoting: Ylang Ylang, Chamomile, Lavender, and Vanilla
- Invigorating: Sea notes such as Ocean and Ginger; and herbal notes such as Mint
Meanwhile, OnScent evaluation manager Betty Valdivia shares some of the most-requested scents by product category:
Top Scents for Hard Surface Cleaners and Laundry Care
- Fresh, clean scents such as Marine, Ozonic, and Linen
- Floral, fruity, herbal scents such as Lavender, Sage, Rosemary, and Tropical Fruits
- Citrus or fruity scents such as Orange, Grapefruit, and Melon
Top Scents for Air Care
- Woody, floral scents such as Rosewood and Lavender Wood
- Fresh aquatic, green scents such as River Bamboo and Sea Spray Driftwood
- Fruity, florals, and citrus notes such as Island Paradise and Jeweled Mango
Although the world is headed towards endemicity, the pandemic has taught us the importance of taking care of our mental health—a lesson that will stay with us for many years to come. As such, household care products that make self-care a priority and incorporate functional fragrances are not only relevant today, but will also remain so tomorrow.
 Hartmans, Avery, “Fragrances became an affordable luxury during the pandemic, leading to the biggest boom in sales in years: ‘I have never, ever seen anything like this’”, Business Insider, https://www.businessinsider.com/fragrance-sales-increasing-during-pandemic-explained-2021-6
 Brown, D’Shonda, “Billy Porter Talks Self-Care and Decluttering Your Mind”, Essence, https://www.essence.com/health-and-wellness/billy-porter-talks-self-care-and-decluttering-your-mind/
 “2021 Fall Cleaning Survey Stats”, American Cleaning Institute, https://www.cleaninginstitute.org/newsroom/releases/2021/2021-fall-cleaning-survey-stats
 Eden, Stuart, “Interview: The Laundress and Aromatherapy Associates Bring Wellness to Cleaning Products”, Perfumer & Flavorist, https://www.perfumerflavorist.com/fragrance/home-care/article/21857381/interview-the-laundress-and-aromatherapy-associates-bring-wellness-to-cleaning-products