Starters-How Caldrea Knows the Consumer Nose-October 2011

Starters-How Caldrea Knows the Consumer Nose-October 2011

Turning fashion and fertile soil into fragrance.

“We read a lot of magazines, we spend a lot of time in stores,” says Pam Helms, chief innovation offi cer and head of product development for Minneapolis-based Caldrea. Caldrea and its Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day brand have become household names selling dish soaps, spray cleaners, hand soaps, and lotions. But “looking to fi ne fragrances . . . there’s always some interesting things happening in those fragrances that can be translated to our types of products,” Helms says.
 
Mandarin Vetiver, a scent introduced this year, was an example of “taking inspiration from a fashion icon, Tom Ford,” she says. Ford’s Grey Vetiver eau de parfum “is a little too upscale to translate directly to a cleaning scent,” but by pairing it with citrus—which has a lot of “heritage” in cleaning products—“I think we came up with something really nice.”
 
Last summer, Helms’ seven-person R&D group turned its attention to gardening. “There’s a big trend in gardening and people having their own home gardens,” says Helms. For 2012, “the two new scents that we’re launching in both of our lines have this leafy, green aspect to them.
 
“The color green is happening a lot in accessory pieces and fashion right now,” she adds, “so it will be just the perfect time when we launch our fragrances in January to have this green color.”
 
People buy Caldrea for the “multisensory experience,” says Kevin Rutherford, the company’s president and CEO. They might pick a Caldrea product off the shelf for the plantbased ingredients or the nontraditional package design, “but after you use it, you’re usually hooked from the scent as well,” he says. In data from Nielsen Homescan and SPINS, a market research firm in the naturalproducts industry, Rutherford says that for the past year Caldrea has been topping its competitors—Seventh Generation, Method, Ecover—in measures of repeat sales.
 
In Helms’ lab, a glass-walled fishbowl on the sixth floor of the Ford Center downtown, white geraniums, piney rosemary, and a cluster of potted basil, lavender, and honeysuckle give color to a center island. Jars of citrus fruit stand on another counter, next to store-bought bottles of soy, olive, and almond oils. But the universe of inspiration for Caldrea’s scents is much bigger.

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