Consumers spend a lot of time in their cars, and they can be home to a whole host of smells. This is particularly true as the fragrances in our lives intermingle, and the smaller the space, the more likely the scents will clash.

As consumers spend more and more time in their cars, brands are recognising the opportunities for car fragrances. One concept on Kickstarter called Car Cologne uses fragrance notes frequently found in cologne and perfume with the idea that the car is an intimate place, and the sterile fragrances typically used in car fresheners need updating.

Indeed, if any space is appropriate for sophisticated, even evocative scents, it is the car. For example, the car culture in the US is often the place where relationships begin and first impressions are made. Few car air fresheners have moved in this direction, presenting white space for brands looking for points of difference.

An uncontested space

The notion of air fresheners crossing over to the personal fragrance space isn’t entirely new, but is certainly rare. In India, Passion Indulge launched a scented oil marketed for use both with oil diffusers and on skin as a personal fragrance. Additionally, although no longer on the market (possibly because the product was ahead of its time), the French brand Altearah Bio coordinated fragrances across its skincare, bath, air care and household product lines.

While there appears to be no such products geared for the car, these innovations at least show that some brands are now, or have in the past, considering the value of merging aircare with personal fragrance. Brands should look to the car for a more meaningful cross-category pairing.

Attracting new consumers to car aircare

Brands have an opportunity to further develop car fresheners to coordinate with personal fragrance as part of the same portfolio. This would allow the car to refresh drivers’ perfume and cologne throughout the day, and could be positioned as a convenience enhancement. For example, the salesperson who is constantly driving between client meetings would arrive with a fresh application of perfume/cologne applied by their car’s air vents.

Fine fragrance brands would then have a reason to partner with aircare companies to expand their products to the car. Even though car ownership is higher in the US than any other country, and despite the fact that Americans spend more time in their cars than the rest of the world, penetration of car air fresheners is far lower than products for the home. Blurring the lines between personal fragrance and car aircare would create a new usage occasion and prompt those who don’t buy car air fresheners to explore this smaller segment.

Global Beauty & Personal Care Analyst at Mintel, Jamie is responsible for developing insights across the skincare, soap, hygiene, household paper and aircare categories, and helping clients turn those insights into strategy. Prior to joining Mintel, Jamie spent 11 years as a Strategic Analyst with Kimberly-Clark’s Corporate Strategy and New Venture teams and as role as a Market Opportunity Consultant at Teltech.