Since antiquity, fragrances have been used to refresh surroundings and mask unpleasant odors. The ancient Egyptians, one of the oldest civilization on our planet, used musks and other natural substances to scent their tombs. With technological and societal evolution, a large number of compounds, which include spices and floral extracts, have been discovered and developed in the last 2,000 years to impart pleasant aroma.
Nevertheless, it was only in 1948 that the original form of the air freshener that we use today was introduced. The product was developed by armed forces to dispense insecticides and constituted a pressurized spray with perfume, chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) propellant, and alcohol or other solvents in proportions of 1%, 75%, and 24%, respectively.
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With product development in the early 1950s, air fresheners were enhanced with actant chemicals, which actually neutralized offensive odors instead of merely masking them with fragrance. With consistent product development, aerosol-based air fresheners were popularly used owing to their performance and cost-effectiveness before they went off the shelves in the 1970s due to CFCs used in them being associated with depletion of the ozone layer.
Since the 1990s, with a dramatic increase in consumer preference for naturally sourced products, such as potpourri and candles containing a blend of herbs, dry spices, has dynamically boosted the market for air freshening products.
Chance Encounter Led to Development of Automotive Air Freshener in the U.S.
Some 60 years ago, in Watertown, New York, a complaint made by a milk truck driver to a local scientist, Julius Sämann, about the stench of spilled milk in the truck was a breakthrough in the invention of the first automotive air freshener. This set Sämann to work and in no time, with the use of exceptional fragrances on specialty paper, he invented the first air freshener specifically for automotives. The arbitrary design he chose for the freshener, an evergreen tree, is still used in Little Trees air fresheners.
Car Freshener Market in North America – an Overview
Since 2011, economic recovery in North America has led to increased consumer spending on discretionary products such as car fresheners. So much so that in North America, car fresheners have now become staples in passenger cars as well as commercial vehicles. Car air fresheners are available in the form of vent clips and sticks, paper-based, aerosols, gels/cans, and novelty automotive air fresheners.
Furthermore, in urban areas, high vehicle volume causes traffic snarls and congestion on a regular basis. This is the reason for the increasing amount of time spent in cars, which in turn necessitates the use of car air fresheners for pleasant odor in the noxious surrounding.
However, health concerns associated with chemical-based products and general shift in preference for naturally sourced products are driving demand for organic/natural fresheners in the U.S.
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In North America, widespread distribution channels such as departmental stores, supermarkets/hypermarkets, car wash stations, fuel stations, and automotive shops will lead to strong sales of car air fresheners.
Moreover, strategic placement of these products in retail outlets, combined with strategic advertisements, has given thrust to sales of leading brands remarkably.