When looking forward to the future of natural fragrance oils, we must look into the past where these oils played an integral role in fragrance history. Even more importantly, we must look to today and the current fragrance market so we can analyze and fully comprehend the mindset of consumers regarding natural and naturally derived oils and fragrances.
In exploring the inception of natural scent, one is transported back to the time of the ancient Egyptians who burned resins and woods to honor the gods during their religious ceremonies. The first perfume recipes were found on the walls of their temples and in the tombs of their people.
Apart from religious ceremonies, a growing interest in “perfuming” for personal use developed. The rich elites of Egyptian society, male and female alike, would adorn themselves with aromas like lily to denote their status. Similarly, the Persians took over the use of perfume as a sign of political status.
However, it wasn’t until the Greeks and Romans discovered perfume that it began to be viewed as a form of art and mass produced in consistent quality. Archaeologists recently uncovered a perfume factory from 2,000 BC, located in Cyprus, which seemed to have specialized in the production of scents like coriander, laurel, myrtle, lavender and rosemary. So began the spread of perfume across the globe.
In revisiting the rich and extensive history of fragrance, it is important to note that prior to the birth of modern perfumery in the late 1880s, all perfumes were made from natural materials.
Back to Nature
Today, as they did more than 1,500 years ago, consumers are turning to nature’s resources, placing increasingly more importance on natural “green” products.
The cyber-based climate of today has fueled consumers’ desire to unplug, simplify and reconnect with the “natural” world. Their primitive need to ground themselves has spurred the search for authenticity and reawakened their interest in a more natural way of living.
Furthermore, the grassroots movement and consumers’ rising consciousness about environmental issues, holistic health, earth preservation and animal welfare continue to motivate them to look for natural alternatives in fragrance, beauty products and household items.
It is often feeling, rather than fact, which influences consumer spending.
Ultimately, the consumers’ feelings about creating a healthier lifestyle has continued to drive the demand for products that exhibit organic, green and unrefined qualities.
Nature Takes Its Course
Consumers desire to simplify their lives and do something positive for their health and the health of their families is only expected to grow as life becomes progressively more complicated and challenging. However, while today’s consumers may be considered savvy shoppers, tomorrow’s consumers are sure to be even more educated and discerning with their purchasing power. In the years ahead, their expectations and demand for quality, honesty and transparency are destined to drive change in the natural fragrance oil market.
Natural fragrances, once reserved for the prestige and niche market, will continue to become more mainstream appearing in mass market stores and private label product lines.
Wal-Mart and Target have already taken the lead by rewarding brands and products that use natural and organic ingredients by giving them more shelf space. Last year, these eminent retailers led a summit on sustainable beauty, the first gathering of its kind.
Wal-Mart and Target revealed that they have each seen a strong bump in consumer demand for natural, organic and sustainably sourced soaps, shampoos, lotions, makeup and other beauty and personal care items. Target went on to say that approximately 97% of households buy some type of natural and/or organic product.
Force of Nature
As the shift towards healthier living takes hold and expands across a wide range of markets and populations, the appeal of “everything natural” is likely to flourish. To what degree this appeal will translate into successful “naturally” driven product lines and a subsequent increase in retailers’ bottom line will depend on how quickly, cost effectively and authentically the industry can utilize the natural fragrance oils and ingredients for their creations and thus, satisfy the evolving needs of its consumers.