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Brief Published: 19 Feb 2021

Subversive Scents Lighten Up the Candle Market

Flaming Crap

US lifestyle brand Goop’s sell-out candle This Smells Like My Vagina and subsequent This Smells Like My Orgasm introduced the concept of humorous and subversive scents to the mainstream. Inspired by their commercial potential, brands are thinking outside the box with unconventional, quirky and entertaining offerings. We highlight some standout examples.  

Homing in on humour, UK newcomer Flaming Crap made headlines with its timely candle The 2020 Scent, launched last November. It transforms poignant moments from the year into four layers of scent – including Joe Exotic (from Netflix’s Tiger King documentary) and banana bread. Joining its jokey sibling, The One Night Stand(le) was launched in January 2021, with notes of pizza, passion fruit martini, latex condom, and 3am taxi ride home.

US indie brand Uncle Terry Smells also launched in late 2020 with a leftfield candle range including French Breakfast (“more cigarettes and coffee than boulangerie”) and Not a Candle (which touts the tagline: “It smells the way it smells”).

Flaming Crap
Uncle Terry Smells

Fast food and delivery services are also using funny fragrances to engage with consumers in a cross-category way. UK company Deliveroo launched a range of comfort-food-scented candles exclusively in Hong Kong on Valentine’s Day 2020, which smelt like burgers, chicken nuggets, dry-stirred noodles and bacon.

McDonald’s similarly released a limited-edition range of candles in February 2020 which, when burned together, smelt like a Quarter Pounder burger. Sold as a set of six, scents included 100% fresh beef, ketchup and sesame seed bun, with the wax coloured to match the ingredients’ hues.  

Covid-19 lockdowns have boosted the consumer appetite for home fragrance – 85% of UK fragrance consumers have used scented candles at home in the past 12 months (NPD, 2020). This has heightened opportunities for exciting scent innovation with a commercial edge.

For more, see Monetising Home Fragrance, The Scented Home and Pandemic Perfumery.