The target market for candles can be sliced, diced and segmented in many, many different ways.
Some buy candles for special occasions, others for therapeutic reasons, yet others to help themselves de-stress or for decoration purposes or as gifts for friends.
If you’re in the candle-making or candle-selling business, it is imperative that you understand your customers’ motivations behind the purchase of each candle. If you don’t, you will simply be wasting your money, making and marketing candles that your target market will have no interest in buying.
In this article, we will study the target market for candles by analyzing it from the point of view of the different segments that make up this vast market.
Segmenting the Target Market for Candles
The target market for candles can be segmented using the following segmentation variables:
- Intended Use
- Types of Scents
- Types of Wax & Wicks
- Types of Containers
- Method of Production
- Consumer’s Age & Gender
- Price / Willingness to Pay
Most consumers will fall in more than one segment and so will have multiple variables driving their purchase decision.
Let’s look closely at each of the segments.
1. Candles based on Intended Use
Candles for Stress Relief
Many people just buy a candle because lighting a candle makes them feel good. Their interest is not in enjoying the scent or the light, but in the feeling that lighting a candle gives them.
In this scenario, the candle is often used as an aid in relaxation and stress relief. The target market for such candles includes people who are looking for an easy way to relax and de-stress, usually at the end of a long and tiring day.
The scents and colors used in these candles are often meant to evoke positive feelings and associations, such as happiness, peace, love, and relaxation.
Candlemakers who target this market segment are able to earn customer loyalty because they are addressing a need, a desire to find a quick and easy way to improve their mood and relax.
Candles for Aromatherapy
Candles have been around for centuries and have many uses. One use of candles that is becoming very popular is Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is the use of aromas or scents to promote health and well-being.
The target market which uses candles for aromatherapy are people who want to receive some health benefit like reducing stress, anxiety, headaches, etc.
Customers who fall in this segment almost always also fall in other market segments because to get Aromatherapy from candles, the candles need to be made in a certain way using certain types of products.
For instance, customers who purchase candles for Aromatherapy are also attracted to candles that are hand-poured as opposed to machine-made, made from soy wax as opposed to paraffin wax, and using natural scents as opposed to artificial ones.
Candles for Home decoration
Candles can be used to make a room look more inviting and cozy, or to create a specific mood, atmosphere, or ambiance. This is especially common around the holidays because holidays in the West – Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc – tend to fall in the colder months which also coincide with people wanting to light candles.
When Candles are used as decoration pieces, the vase used for the candle matters a lot. Vases themselves can be works of art and can be made from glass, stained glass, metal, ceramic, cement and wood.
When Candles are used to create an atmosphere or ambiance, the scent makes all the difference. Different scents evoke different emotions and different feelings. This strong correlation between scents and emotions is used by candlemakers to position candles as a product that helps deal with the emotional ups and downs throughout one’s day.
Candles as gifts
Candles are often seen as a symbol of relaxation and peace, health and well-being, which makes them perfect for gift-giving.
Given the variety of shapes, sizes, and scents that are available on the market, it becomes easy to find the right candle for anyone.
Candles are always a welcome addition to any home décor and can be an ideal gift when invited to a friend’s house for dinner.
Candlemakers often make candles targeting occasions like births, christenings and holidays. This is why candles work just as well on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Birthdays and Christmas.
It is also quite common for customers to buy candles for themselves. Candlemakers and marketers habitually promote candles as a way of “pampering yourself”. Candles as self-gifts tie in very closely with using candles for aromatherapy or for stress relief.
Candles for the dinner table
Lighting a candle at the dinner table can be a great way to set the mood and create a relaxing atmosphere. Since many people give candles as gifts, especially around the holidays, it’s customary to see candles on the dinner table, for instance at Christmas.
It’s also common to light candles for a romantic dinner. There is a reason these are called candle-lit dinners!
Marketers use this opportunity to create candles specifically to be lit at the dinner table. Often, these candles have lower quantities of scents so as not to overpower or interfere with the aromas and taste of the food at the table.
2. Candles based on types of Scents
Candles come in a wide range of scents like Eucalyptus, Lemongrass, Vanilla, Cinnamon, Jasmine, etc.
There are scents that help create a cozy ambiance. These include scents like Ginger, Cloves, and Vanilla.
Then there are scents that are evocative of spring, flowers and fruit – Jasmine, Lemon, Oranges, Chamomile, Grapefruit and Patchouli.
And finally, there are sweet scents like Fig, Honey and Lavender.
These are some of the natural scents that are found in candles. Then there are hundreds of artificial scents which are created in laboratories often by mixing different scents together.
3. Candles based on types of Wax & Wicks
Apart from the scent, the other key components of any candle are the wax and the wick.
Waxes are of three main types:
- Petroleum-derived wax
- Animal wax
- Plant wax
Petroleum-derived wax or paraffin Wax is artificial wax. Paraffin Wax is the most commonly used wax in candles. But because it is petroleum-derived, it turns off a lot of people who prefer natural wax.
The most common type of animal wax used to make candles is bee wax. While it is natural, animals are used in its production and so it turns off many people.
And this brings us to the last sub-segment in this market: Plant-based wax. The most common type of plant-based wax used to make candles is Soy wax. The use of Soy wax is growing as more and more people are shying away from products made with the exploitation of animals. This phenomenon is giving rise to a growing segment within the target market for candles. This is the market segment for Vegan Candles.
Wicks are made either from cotton or from wood. Wooden wicks create a larger fire and are typically used in candles with a wide surface. Such candles release more fragrance in less time than the traditional cotton wicks.
Cotton wick candles are more appealing to those who prefer smaller flames and do not like the smell of burning wood.
4. Candles based on types of Containers
When candles are used for decoration purposes, the containers are the real showpiece. Everyone from homeowners to business owners use candles as a form of interior decoration.
Some of the more popular types of containers for candles are:
- Jars: As the most popular type of candle containers, jars come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be made from different materials such as glass, ceramic or metal.
- Votives: These small candles are often used to create an ambiance in a room. Frosted glass is a common material used to make votives.
- Tapers: These candles are tall and thin, making them perfect for use in a candelabra.
- Pillar Candles: These candles are large and cylindrical. They come in many different colors and styles.
- Tealights: These small, round candles are great for accenting other candles or for giving-off small amounts of light.
- Floating Candles: These candles are designed to be floated in a bowl of water.
5. Methods of Candle Production
Broadly speaking there are two methods of candle production. And certain segments of the target market for candles will only buy candles made from one method or the other.
These methods are:
Machine-made candles are made at scale in large factories. These are typically made for the mass market and use cheaper materials. The end product is also cheaper and caters to the mass market. Many people who buy candles will not be willing to spend a lot of money on them. These customers will usually go for machine-made candles because they will fit their price range.
Hand-poured candles, on the other hand, are usually artisanal and use higher quality materials, and are highly labor-intensive. Such candles are usually expensive and cater to a segment of the market that prefers handmade, locally produced candles made from the highest quality of materials and labor.
6. Customer’s Age & Gender
The Target Market for Candles can be segmented based on both the age and the gender of the customer.
Both these segmentation variables impact the marketing of the products.
Candles for men tend to use darker, bolder colors for the packaging and are inclined to have more masculine scents – woody, pines, sandalwood, ginger and leather. The candle containers which appeal to men also tend to be more “solid” and made from metal, cement and wood.
Women tend to be more attracted to gentler designs and scents – vanilla, rose, geranium, lemons, clementines, etc. Women also prefer more designer vases made with frosted glass, ceramic and stained glass.
The customer’s age also plays a role in how candles are marketed. Younger adults are more comfortable purchasing candles online. Older adults prefer to touch and smell the candle in a store before making the purchase. So, by segmenting the market based on age, you can decide on the most appropriate distribution strategy for your candles.
7. Price / Customer’s Willingness to Pay
Finally, all of the above variations have an impact on price. And so, the target market for candles can definitely be segmented based on the customer’s willingness to pay.
Candles can range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars based on the materials used, the designs, the craftsmanship, the brand, and the occasion for which they are marketed.
In fact, candle makers can make excellent profits when they segment the market based on price because many customers are willing to pay good money for high-quality candles.
In short, there are segments of this market that are willing to buy candles at a broad range of prices (and quality levels).
The target market for candles is vast and complex. In theory, every adult is a potential customer or user of a candle.
The market for candles can be segmented based on the intended use, the types of scents, wax, wicks and containers used, the method of production, the target customer’s age and gender and finally the customer’s willingness to pay for what is a non-essential product.
Most customers of candles will have complex buying decision processes even though these decisions are made fairly quickly in a store. But it still isn’t possible to pigeon-hole most candle customers into a single segment. Consequently, customers will occupy more than one segment of the market, making it challenging to market to them but also providing candlemakers and marketers with different possibilities to reach the same customer in different ways.