The months leading up to the holidays have traditionally been “peak candle” season, when the desire to create a cozy atmosphere at home and find a quick and easy gift for friends and family have driven sales. But thanks to the rise of wellness and self-care culture, as well as the impact of Covid-19, candles have shifted to become a year-round must-have. In 2020, the global candle market size was valued at US$8.86 billion, but by 2021, following pandemic-related lockdowns and the
nd the shift to remote working in many parts of the world, it had grown dramatically to reach US$10.39 billion. Selfridges reportedly saw a 54 per cent increase in candle sales between March and August 2020, and Diptyque reportedly saw its candle and home fragrance sales triple during the pandemic. Market research firm Statista expects the global candle market to continue to grow at an annual compound growth rate of 2.88 per cent from 2023 to 2028. In light of this, here’s a closer look at the factors that have led to the rise of the candle market and what retailers – both those in the sector and outside of it – should keep in mind going forward. The rise of the candle industry When the pandemic hit, the beauty industry was hit in different ways. While the sale of colour cosmetic products, like lipstick and eyeshadow, went down in 2020, fragrance products, like perfume and candles, saw a major spike in sales. Linda Levy, president of The Fragrance Foundation, theorised that the rise in demand for scented products had a lot to do with the fact that losing a sense of smell was a noted side-effect of having Covid. “While people were possibly losing their sense of smell, to some extent on a temporary or permanent basis, the sense of smell really became an elevated sense in terms of its value to consumers,” she told Inside Retail. Levy also noted that while many consumers were stuck at home and stressed out, they sought out products that could provide a sense of escape. “What really changed in fragrance – and is continuing today – is that people look to fragrance in terms of its transportive effects. “When you were home during the pandemic and couldn’t see your grandmother or go on a vacation, the scent that your grandmother wore, or the scent of the Amalfi coast, were things that you wanted to smell to bring you somewhere else,” she said. “Even [as] the president of The Fragrance Foundation, I never even used to light one at home. Now it’s allowing for a very transformative and cozy feeling.” Mouth-watering candle collabs In addition to traditional fragrance houses and independently run businesses producing their own candles, several non-fragrance companies have joined the mix in recent years. In August 2022, American fast-food chain Chipotle released a limited-edition product to celebrate National Lemonade Day. Poking a bit of fun at customers who “accidentally” refilled their water cups with lemonade, the chain released a lemonade-scented candle in a vessel that resembles a branded water cup. The US$28 candle immediately sold out on Chipotle’s website, and quickly appeared on resale sites for at least three times the original selling price. Similarly, in May 2022, American fast-food chain Shake Shack partnered with Brooklyn-based luxury home fragrance brand Apotheke on a US$42 candle set, dubbed “Burger in the Park” and “Shake & Fries”. The set was meant to capture “that first bite of a ShackBurger in the fresh spring air of NYC’s Madison Square Park”, which is the home of Shake Shack’s original location. Like Chipotle, the set was an immediate sellout. In addition to these well-known food chains, other businesses have also leaned into the candle market. In the leadup to the release of the Barbie movie, toy manufacturer and entertainment company Mattel partnered with US-based fragrance company Homesick to release a US$44 candle inspired by Barbie and her dream house. Candles allow consumers to experience a brand on another sensory level and create a more in-depth shopping experience. Areas of growth within the candle market According to global research and consulting firm Verified Market Research, the leading players within the candle industry are Yankee Candles, Jo Malone, Village Candles, Nest, Slatkin & Co, Bath and Body Works, Malin + Goetz, Colonial Candle, and Diptyque. However, as consumers become more interested in discovering niche scents, smaller players within the candle industry, such as Harlem Candle Company, The New Savant, and Bonita Fierce Candles have been making their voices heard. According to research pulled by SkyQuest, a global market intelligence and growth consulting company, demand for custom and personalized scented candles, aromatherapy, non-toxic candles, and sustainable and eco-friendly candles is growing. One example of how fragrance brands are tapping into these key growth areas is by creating products with refillable packaging. Just this September, Diptyque launched the Les Mondes de Diptyque collection, the brand’s first line of refillable candles. They come in sleek glass vessels created by Italian designer Cristina Celestino.