The Booming Business of Scented Candles

Scented candles have become an extremely popular home fragrance product, supporting a thriving industry. With diverse options and affordable prices, scented candles appeal to a wide consumer base. Retail sales of candles reached $3.14 billion in the United States in 2021. The growth has led to more manufacturers and suppliers entering the market. Competition is fierce to meet demand and capture market share.

The popularity of scented candles stems from their versatility. They can set a mood, provide relaxation, or make a house smell inviting. Flavor profiles include floral, fruity, spicy, earthy and more. Candles come in different shapes and sizes, from tumblers to pillars. This variety caters to diverse preferences. Retail stores prominently display candles to draw interest. Their relatively low cost makes them an easy impulse purchase.

Mass retail chains drive much of the scented candle business. Top sellers include Bath & Body Works, Yankee Candle, and Chesapeake Bay Candle. Their candles range from $10-30. Budget brands like Glade and Airwick compete under $10. Higher-end brands position themselves as more exclusive and command prices over $50. Despite the proliferation of brands, quality and ingredients can vary widely at different price points.

Most major candle brands outsource manufacturing to third party suppliers. These suppliers compete aggressively on pricing since they lack consumer brand recognition. Many suppliers are located overseas taking advantage of lower labor costs. Top supplier countries include Vietnam, India, and Mexico. However, some brands now market their products as locally or domestically made to justify higher prices.

Raw ingredients represent the largest input cost for suppliers. Popular wax options include paraffin, soy, and beeswax. Pure paraffin remains the preferred choice for its lower cost and high quality burn. However, natural waxes like soy and beeswax appeal to ecologically-conscious consumers. Essential oils and chemical fragrances are also a major input cost. Additional materials include wicks, jars, and packaging. Managing margins depends on efficient procurement and economies of scale.

The growth of e-commerce has been a major driver expanding the candle market. Online shopping makes browsing and comparing the vast selection of candle brands and scents much easier. Dedicated candle retail websites like CandleScience cater to hobbyists. Large marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart feature candles in their home décor categories. This availability online, beyond brick-and-mortar retail, has unlocked growth.

Looking forward, the future seems bright for the scented candle industry. Demand shows no signs of slowing even against economic uncertainty. Suppliers continue ramping up production capacity and innovation. Larger brands aim to maintain dominance through marketing spending and consumer loyalty. There remains plenty of room for smaller niche candle makers to thrive. Scented candles have become a staple item that consumers now consider a necessity rather than a discretionary purchase. The candle-burning public only seems to grow over time. Both major brands and suppliers stand ready to fuel our obsession.