PF, which estimates the category's compound annual growth between 2003 and 2007 at 6.9%, forecasts 3% annual growth over the next five years, for total sales of $6 billion by 2012.
Whereas candles once dominated the category, home air fresheners have driven the growth over the past several years.
Mass outlets account for about 45% of the category's total sales, and mass-outlet sales data (excluding Wal-Mart) from IRI InfoScan Review and PF show air freshener sales jumping by nearly 40% to $151.4 million, last year--while mass-outlet candle sales totaled just $22.2 million.
Mass market-sold air freshener units grew by about 2% annually between 2003 and 2007, while candle units declined by about 4% annually. However, the average price of air fresheners rose to $2.64 from $2.07, and the average price of candles rose to $2.50, from $1.79.
Across all retail outlets, including specialty/gift stores and direct sales, PF estimates that air fresheners now command a 45% share--up from 36% in 2003--while candles' share has declined from 56% to 49%.
SC Johnson remains the overall home fragrance leader, and others dominating the market include Yankee Candle, Reckitt Benckiser, Blyth and Limited Brands. But P&G has been gaining share rapidly, thanks to its success with its higher-priced air freshener spin-offs of the Febreze fabric freshener brand.
Among sprays, IRI-reported mass sales for Febreze Air Effects, introduced in 2004, reached $70.6 million last year, eclipsing Oust's mass sales of $45.9 million, PF reports.
And among diffusers, mass retail sales for Febreze Noticeables grew by 40% to nearly $78 million last year, while #1 Glade PlugIns' mass sales declined 14% to $185 million.
Innovation--primarily in the air freshener segment--has propelled the growth of the overall market, says PF publisher Tatjana Meerman. "Consumers have fallen in love with technological gadget diffuser devices as well as the more passive reed diffusers," she points out.