Aroma products make inroads in homes, firms

Japan news October 2017

The Aroma Environmental Association of Japan, established in 2005, boasts 276 corporate members and 55,809 individual members. As reported by the Shukan Kinyobi dated 9 September, the annual market in 2015 for perfumes, which includes aromatic essences and additives for deodorisers and daily goods, came to ¥333.7bn, up 26% from the previous survey in 2011.

While aroma therapy products and services generate annual revenues of around ¥60.9bn, the market for goods that blend perfumes into products such as cosmetics, detergents and deodorisers is considerably larger, at ¥272.8bn.

Recent growth has been driven by the rapid increase in demand for “aroma cosmetics” and clothing detergent and softeners into which scent extracts have been blended. Another growth area has been aroma services, which in the past were contracted mainly by hotels. Now it’s become common for offices, medical facilities and other public places to utilise them as well, resulting in a 36% rise in such services since 2011.

An online survey for the Asahi Shimbun of 30 September found that 79% of the 1,718 respondents described themselves as being very or somewhat sensitive to odours. Meanwhile, a small majority (52%) said they habitually make use of home deodorisers. In descending order, they are put to use in the toilet (717), entrance hall (405), shoe rack (178), living room (167), car (138) and closet or chest of drawers (97). In addition to deodorisers, some also used charcoal, coffee grounds, floral sachets, incense and tea bags.

Others find the fragrances physically disagreeable. In the Asahi Shimbun survey, 197 individuals said the chemicals made them nauseous, while another 115 got headaches.

The Shukan Kinyobi noted that even fragrances made 100% from natural materials are typically blended in a density far stronger than exists in nature. A Kyoto woman in her forties had an unpleasant experience while visiting an exhibition, when she suddenly felt giddy and had to dash out of the building to get away from the aroma. “I couldn’t return after that”, she said.

Others have complained that scents may linger in their clothing and hair. The article also expressed the concern that this industry is essentially unregulated—including for imports—and that at present, the effects of prolonged exposure are unknown.