There is no denying that the home fragrance market is a sizable one — according to the Global Scented Candles Market Research Report, the global scented candles market size is estimated to reach USD 4.22 billion and record a compound annual growth rate of 5.80% by the end of 2024.
And now, continuing the journey to revolutionize the industry, DTC fragrance brand Snif has expanded into the luxury home fragrance market with bang — the brand just launched their first collection of stylishly designed, vegan & cruelty free, hand-poured scented candles made with ingredients that are of the highest quality and toxin-free.
Known for their unique try-before-you-buy business model and exponential growth, Snif is on a mission to simplifying the fragrance-buying experience for consumers, and has quickly gathered a loyal cult following since its inception merely a year ago (learn more about Snif and its cofounders Bryan Edwards and Phil Riportella in the article here).
The new collection is comprised of 3 brand new, heavenly scents: Birds and the Breeze, Off the Grid, and Instant Karma, and the packaging and design continues the Snif signature style: sleek, effortlessly elegant, modern yet timeless silhouette in rich, earthy yet warm color palettes. And talk about attention to detail: the soy and vegetable wax blend even color-matches its chic vessel.
The real star of the new collection is actually the free samples intended for consumers to try before they buy: no expense was spared in the making of those miniature versions of the full size candles, and the 2oz tubs are so cute I’m pretty certain there will be customers buying the full set just so they get to keep the minis. I’d happily tote one around in the handbag just to bring my favorite scent with me everywhere I go.
Nonetheless for the young brand, it’s a bold move to expand so soon into a completely different, despite related, market. I couldn’t wait to speak to the cofounders again, who, just over 6 months ago, talked to me about their drive to build the most forward-thinking, modern brand that offers the best digital experience, and the challenges they faced during the pandemic.
Angela Lei: From fragrance to candles — it seems such a natural transition yet totally unexpected. Who came up with the idea and what inspired your new range?
Bryan Edwards & Phil Riportella (BE & PR): Scented candles have always been part of our roadmap at Snif. Our goal was to nail down what was in our opinion the hardest product first (fine-fragrance), and then branch into adjacent scented product categories once we successfully built a community of people who trust us and love our scents! Not only did we decide to move into candles due to our personal love for them, but also because it’s a natural transition due to our ability to take high quality fragrances and easily translate them into candle form. Our idea for candles is still inspired by our original business model which is to make shopping for scents online fun and simple through a try-before-you-buy experience. We see a lot of similarities in how our business model can disrupt candles as it did with fragrance, by sending customers full-size candles alongside a sample of each candle that someone can actually burn before deciding what they want to keep. Smelling cold wax doesn’t give you the full effect!
When developing the fragrances specifically for candles, we knew we wanted to think about the different situations in your life where you’d actually use it, while also encouraging people to switch up their scents based on their mood or atmosphere (similar to our fragrances). Off the Grid was designed for those looking to disconnect. Birds and the Breeze, a more coastal, airy scent, perfect for mornings. Instant Karma is a cozy, spicy, slightly darker scent that riffs off of good intentions coming to life.
We wanted our expansion into the home to be thoughtful and purposeful, and to create a scent for every mood/situation!
AL: From what I can see, even the mini candles are well designed and stylishly packaged — are you concerned about the potential cost if retention rate is not high enough?
BE & PR: We’ve had amazing success with our try-before-you-buy experience for fine fragrance, specifically seeing very high keep-rates across all collections, so we’re expecting similar results and tendencies with scented candles. In fact, we’re expecting the retention rate to increase significantly, due to the fact that candles are much more “gift-able” products, and slightly less personal of an item when compared to fine-fragrance. From a business model perspective, we’ve designed and built the product specifically for a try-before-you-buy experience, which means thinking through situations where people may return more than usual. We’re ready for any situation that comes our way!
However, from talking to our community, we’re expecting them to be more open to keeping a higher percentage of product. Fine fragrance is just so personal, so it is natural that it may take a customer a few times to figure out the right scent for them. With candles, we expect people to be more open about allowing a variety of scents in their home.
AL: How long did it take for you to complete the candle range, from packaging design to the composition of wax/cotton wicks to the final scents? What would you say was your biggest challenges in adding the brand new product range?
BE: We started scent and package design for candles back in November of 2020 — about a month after we launched the entire brand! It’s taken us about a year to perfect all elements and to complete the kind of testing for performance that our community has come to expect from us.
Looking back on our development process, I think the biggest challenge in launching a new category (or even just a new collection) is making sure that we design and create scents that will resonate with our community. It’s so important for us to gather feedback from our Scent Board and to complete the proper testing to ensure the product is where it needs to be. And that is a process that just takes time.
PR: We didn’t want to rush the process, because it was really important to us to create a quality product that is in line with our overall brand values. Similar to our fragrances, we wanted our formulas to have the highest-quality ingredients (these are really fine-fragrances in candle form), and we needed the product to be clean and non-toxic, which meant having no paraffin wax (we used a blend of soy and vegetable wax), pure cotton wicks, and they’re 100% made in the US.
Early feedback on all of the scents in the candle collection has been overwhelmingly positive, so we think the effort will pay off!
AL: Which is your favorite scent respectively and why?
BE: I love ALL the scents equally like they’re my children, but if I had to pick one, I’d pick Off the Grid. This was actually supposed to be a fine fragrance we wanted to release, but when we tested it in the wax, we knew we needed to make it a candle. It’s got all the complexities of a fine fragrance and is just so powerful. It really helps set the mood for you to disconnect and actually get off the grid.
PR: I couldn’t choose. I love all 3 of them equally, truly! I switch between all 3 depending on my mood and the vibe! Birds and the Breeze I love to burn in the morning. It’s super light and floral and airy with just the right amount of woods. Off The Grid is beautiful and ambery and creamy and super qualitative, and really perfect for any occasion. Instant Karma is such an amazing fall and winter candle, with these beautiful spice notes of cinnamon and cardamom — I love burning this candle at night, my friends can’t get enough of it.
AL: Now the world is slowly but surely getting back to the pre-pandemic speed, what would you say is the biggest difference for Snif as a brand and business (and for you as cofounder/co CEO) compared to when we first spoke over 6 months ago?
BE: Over the past 6 months, Snif has gone from “new kid on the block” to a force in fragrance and in beauty. In order for us to keep that momentum going, it has meant adding depth and complexity across our entire business whether that be new products or new team members or new vendors. The biggest difference for me is just the size and scale of the brand.
However, I can also tell you what hasn’t changed — our mission. We are constantly reminding ourselves of what our original goal was and is — to simplify the fragrance buying experience and making the benefits of fragrance more accessible to all. As we think about the next evolution of Snif, it will always be grounded by making amazing scents across all products, and providing the easiest and most elevated shopping experience for our community.
Snif’s new collection of luxury scented candles launches today, October 21, and you can now buy the much-anticipated range at www.snif.co.