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POLITEHNICA University of Bucharest

Faculty of Engineering in Foreign Languages

Business Administration and Engineering in Industry

Industrial Marketing Project

Customer analysis of California Car Scents air fresheners
on the Romanian market

Dr. Ing. Cristian POPESCU

U Andrei


Table of Contents


Product description California Car Scents.....................................................2


Targeted market..................................................................................................5



Targeted customers and their decisions........................................................6


Unique Selling Proposition.................................................................................8






1. Product description California Car Scents

Car Scents is the range of automotive spill proof air
fresheners produced in the USA by California Scents. The company
was founded in 1993 in Southern California and started by producing
and selling air fresheners packed in aluminium canisters, similar to
the ones used for packing fish cans, suitable for home, office or in
the car.
In the beginning, the company produced only one type of air
freshener which was available in six scents. Along with the increased
popularity of their products, the company extended their range and
now, they have four main divisions: Household, Automotive, Pet and
The Car Scents are automotive air fresheners consisting of Figure 1 California Car Scents
three scent pads made of organic recyclable fiber which are infused
with fragrance oil (Figure 2) and are packed in aluminum cans as you can see in Figure 1. The
black plastic cap acts as an air diffuser which gives the user the possibility to adjust the
intensity of the scent.

Figure 2 Oil infused scent pads [2]

Since the big cities have the tendency to get more and more crowded with people
spending more time in their cars, this involves an increase in the drivers and passengers need
for comfort in the vehicles they are using.
The need for comfort does not only refer to the
interior space or the ergonomics of the seats, but also the air
quality and scent in the vehicle has become a need and also a
demand for most of the drivers, leading to the development
of a whole market of automotive air fresheners. They come
in different forms regarding to packaging, usage, source of
the fragrance and, state (solid, liquid or gas) and in a large
variety of scents.

Figure 3 Variety of Scents [2]

California Scents offers a variety of 32 fragrances of

their Car Scents range of products, from fruity scents to
new car scent or even bubble gum. Figure 3 shows only a
part of the product range.


On the Romanian market, the absolute leader is the Ambi Pur Car air freshener, with a
market share of 84.8% (in 2009), according to this article, and the products offered by
California Scents struggle to increase their share, competing with the market leader, with the
Wunder-Baum hanging scented little trees and with other liquid or gel air fresheners or even
promotional ones from gas stations.
The competitive advantages of the Car Scents products can be summarised as:

Spill-proof, meaning that no oil or other liquids may be spilled because they are
infused in the fiber pads;
Scent that lasts up to 60 days (I am a frequent user of these products and I can confirm
this affirmation);
Wide variety of fragrances in order to satisfy a broad range of customer demands and
They are packed in aluminium cans that fit perfectly in the cup holders of every car,
and can be used discreetly, without needing to hang them from the rear-view mirror or
clip them on the air vents
The products are manufactured in the USA, with high quality standards;
Enviro Kleen Certified they contain 100% pure fragrance oil, the fibers that carry
these oils are biodegradable and the cans are made from recyclable aluminium;
The plastic lid has an adjustable opening, allowing users to control the intensity of the
scent, and also the life of the product.

From all the 32 varieties of Car Scents, one

of them is the bestseller on the Romanian market,
that being the Golden State Delight one (Figure
4). The fragrance of this product is very similar to
the flavour of the Turbo chewing gum which was
very popular in the early and mid-90s and which
are back on the market now. This resemblance
makes this product very popular among the
nostalgic 25-35 age segment of the buyers. I must
confess that I prefer this scent from the same

Figure 4 Golden State Delight [3]

The market leader, Ambi Pur Car, although its also a car air freshener it comes in a
different form. It is basically a bottle of fragranced oil with a diffuser that clips on to the air
vents of the interior of the vehicle. It is sold as a pack of device (clip-on support and diffuser)
+ reserve, or the reserves separately (similar to the Gillette model). Although Ambi Pur Car is
the market leader and the most popular product among the car air fresheners, its main
disadvantage is the price.
A starter pack of Ambi Pur Car (device and reserve) costs up to 40 RON (37.90
RON at Carrefour Hypermarket). Compared to that, a can of California Car Scents costs
almost 15 RON (13.99 RON at Auchan Hypermarket, 17.99 at eMAG and 15 RON at most of
the online dealers), making it cost 63.3% less than the market leader, both products being
comparable in terms of lifecycle, quality, and both can be considered premium products on
this market.

Despite the fact that it is way cheaper than the market leader, it costs three times as
much as another notable competitor product range which is the Wunder-Baum trees that are
usually hanged by the rear view mirror. The scented trees cost almost 5 RON (4.99 RON at
eMAG) and this being said, the price of the California Car Scents can be both an advantage or
disadvantage depending on what other products they are compared with. As a conclusion of
this first part you can see a SWOT analysis of the Car Scents product range.


Spill proof no liquids may

spill in the car
Aluminum package that
fits every cup-holder of
every car
Long-lasting up to 60
days or even more
Adjustable intensity of the
scent Wide variety of
fragrances (32)
Environmental friendly
Enviro Kleen Certified
Made in USA
Costs 63.3% less than the
market leader


High popularity in online

forums and communities of
auto enthusiasts;
(expositions, tuning shows,
Products should be displayed
in places frequented by car
enthusiasts (car washes, parts
and accessories shops, auto
service units s.o.) and at paypoints of the big retailers as
they can be easy targets for


expensive, compared to
most of the competitors;
Some people may be not
buying, being used with
hanging fresheners;
Currently not so widely
exposed in popular places
such as hypermarkets, gas
stations a.o


The avalanche of low

priced (1-3 RON) and poor
quality products available
almost everywhere;
People who prefer to buy
the products mentioned
above without considering
quality and time-lasting

2. Targeted market
In this second chapter, I will describe the targeted market for the product analysed,
along with the segmentation variables taken to account and the market segments considered.
It is needless to say that it addresses the final consumer, being a business-to-consumer (B2C)
product. However, if we take the case of rent-a-car or taxi companies that use this product, it
can also be considered a business-to-business product, but this project will concentrate of the
business-to-consumer approach.



As Philip Kotler states in his book, Principles of Marketing 15th Edition, market
segmentation involves dividing a market into smaller segments of buyers with distinct needs,
characteristics or behaviours that might require separate marketing strategies or mixes. This
process is important because it gives the companies a framework to start from in order to
reach their future customers more efficiently and more appropriate to their needs, wants,
resources, buying behaviours and patterns and other variables.[1]

Figure 5 Major segmentation variables for consumer markets [1]

As Figure 5 shows, the first variable I will consider will be the geographic one. Since
the product can classified as premium considering its price segment, from the geographical
and location point of view, our targeted customers live in urban or suburban areas, in
developed or developing countries with moderate or warm climate. The climate aspect is
quite important because, for example in a northern area with constantly cold climate, an air
freshener based on vaporization of scented oils is absolutely useless.
From the demographic point of view, the customers can have any age as long as they
are legal to own and drive an automobile; can be either men or women and should have an
average or higher income. Although gender should not be a segmentation criteria for
marketing of products like the one analysed, some of the scents in the fragrance range can be
more appealing to one of the two genders (e.g. the Golden State Delight has a scent similar to
the Turbo chewing gum, which were part the childhoods of most of men between 25-35). If
we consider each one of the variety of scents available individually, then the demographic
segmentation may have different variables with different values, and in a real scenario that
would be more efficient, but since this project has an educational purpose, I will consider a
single segmentation process for the whole range of scents available.

The psychographic segmentation variables that we can take into account are social
class and personality. The potential buyers of our products are people from middle class who
are passionate about their vehicles and give importance to using good quality products when it
comes to maintaining and accessorizing their cars. Also, most of these people consider that
the vehicle they drive should be a reflection of their personality and social status. For
example, we all have friends or acquaintances that always keep their cars clean and with
service always according to the schedule; they most probably use or will use California Car
Scents to keep the air in their cars fresh and fragranced.
From the behavioral point of view, the Car Scents products have benefits that make
them appeal to a wide range of customer segments. For the practical and pragmatic users,
they can be easily deposited in the vehicle, and do not contain liquids that may spill and
damage the dashboard or the seats. They offer a wide range of possible scents to suit different
tastes (they even have some licensed scents similar to designer fragrances from brands like
Gucci, Christian Dior or Hugo Boss, in order to satisfy even the most sophisticated buyers).
They are probably the most eco-friendly products in their market, having a recyclable package
and biodegradable fibres infused with organic oil, so they appeal to people who are very
interested in the environmental impact of the products they decide to buy and use. Also there
are buyers who relate the quality of the products with the country or region they are produced
(e.g. there is a segment of buyers that consider products made in China are poor quality) and
based on the fact that the products are manufactured in the USA, this segment will also have
its buyers.


Targeted customers and their decisions

Starting from the segmentation process described above we now have information
about the people that may or will buy the products, people that should be appealed through
marketing tools and campaigns.
As for every other type of product, the customers certainly have expectations based on
their personality, tastes or even on previous experiences with other brands or types of products
from this market (car air fresheners).
Two aspects that I think are important when deciding among the variety of car air
fresheners available on the market are the price and the lasting of the products which can be
considered the customer perceived value. A simple comparison based on the information
printed on the packages of the products and on the prices presented in the first chapter shows
that California Car Scents products have the best cost-per-day (or price to lasting ratio)
compared to its main to competitors, Ambi Pur Car and Wunder Baum hanging trees.
Table 1 Comparison of the cost per day of using air fresheners

Ambi Pur Car

Wunder Baum trees

California Car Scents

Price [RON]
Lasts up to [days]








Another set of aspects that I, as a consumer find particularly important are the form of
packaging and the, lets say, modus operandi or how the product should be used and how it
affects or improves the comfort of driving. For example, the little trees (Wunder Baum) must
be hanged by the central rear-view mirror and in order to achieve the longest lasting of the
product you should keep the plastic wrapping and unveil the product gradually, which is
inconvenient and may affect the visibility of the driver. As for the other competitor (the Ambi
Pur), it contains a small bottle filled with a perfumed oil which, in case of spilling will destroy
the materials of the dashboard (it happened to me once and that was when I decided not to use
it anymore). Also consumers surely want that their air fresheners to work all the time, which
is hard to achieve with products that rely on the air flow from the air vents of the car in order
to spread their smell.

Figure 6 Consumer buying behaviors [1]

Figure 6 above shows four different types of buying behaviors, as found in Kotlers
book. The buying behaviour most appropriate to the products analysed is the Variety-seeking
buying behaviour which involves low involvement from the customer although he perceives
significant differences between brands.
What Figure 7 shows is the Belch model of consumers buying decision process which

Figure 7 Consumer buying decision model (Belch model) [1]

I will analyse in the context of the products considered in this project. The first stage is the
need or problem recognition, where the consumer discovers his previous air freshener ran out,
or that he has a bad smell in the car, or he sees the product displayed or advertised somewhere
and discover that he needs or wants it.
The Information search stage is the one where the consumer gets informed about
different products of the ones that he wants. This type of products, the air fresheners do not
need a complex information search process. People usually decide based on information
written on the package, or by references from friends and family (external) or based on their
previous experiences and purchases (internal)
The third stage is where the consumer evaluates the alternatives of brands available on
the market based on the information he has and finally makes the decision to purchase one of
Probably one of the most important stages in this process from the point of view of the
car air fresheners is the postpurchase behaviour. I can write entire pages about what needs the

products fulfil or how consumers perceive them, but in the end people try different brands and
types of air fresheners and when they find one that meet or exceed their expectations they will
become loyal to that particular brand, range or product and will eventually recommend it to
their acquaintances and this happens in the postpurchase behaviour stage of the Belch model.
Basically, as Kotler says, this stage is where the companies build profitable long-term
relationships with their customers. [1]
As a conclusion to this chapter, in order to succeed on the market of car air fresheners,
I can identify some fundamental success factors:

Convenient and comfortable to use package and form;

Long lasting scent that meets (ideally exceeds) customers expectations;
Wide variety of scents;
Convenient price (price to days ratio)

3. Unique Selling Proposition

After discovering the targeted segments of customers, a company must create a
Unique Selling Proposition, which has to differentiate the product from its customers.
Basically it should summarise the main benefits or the value that customers will receive when
buying that product, by positioning it on an attractive place in the customers perception of
brands. This is a powerful marketing instrument, especially for the consumer products that are
usually bought impulsively or without prior information research from the customer. The
selling or value proposition must state the products competitive advantages and differentiate it
from the competitors. [1]
From our products point of view, the main competitive advantages that we can use to
differentiate it from its competitors are:
o It is long lasting; => Longer
o It is spill proof and therefore clean and comfortable to use => Cleaner
o Its eco-friendliness is certified = > Greener
The three words written in italic should certainly be key words in the Unique Selling
Proposition of our product. Another characteristic that is a benefit to customers is the fact that
they come in a wide variety of fragrances and their names suggest more likely experiences or
places (especially from the USA) than fruits or flowers with similar scent. Some examples of
names include: Citrus Splash, Hawaiian Gardens, Golden State Delight, Desert Jasmine,
Gardenia Del Mar, Emerald Bay and so on.
The names of the fragrances also suggest natural sites and that backed up by the fact
that they are made with organic oils can lead to referring to nature in the value proposition. As
we all know, all the expensive designer fragrances and perfumes use natural oil extracts and in
most cases their names refer to nature (e.g. Bulgari Aqua, Kenzo Flower) and in my opinion
the value proposition can refer to the fact that the product, through its scent brings a bit of
nature in the interior of the customers vehicles. Therefore, based on the arguments stated in
this chapter, I consider that a good Unique Selling Proposition for the products analysed
would be:
California Car Scents: Brings nature in your car. Longer. Cleaner. Greener

4. Questionnaire
We at California Scents truly value our customers opinions and we struggle to constantly
A questionnaire
is a form
of marketing
to be more
is usually
improve our
products for your
Therefore we
would and
be grateful
if you
could itgive
us 5 minutes
used time
a quantitative
of research
in order to acquire primary data that may lead to
of your
to answerform
the following
customers insights. Those insights are information regarding to customers needs, wants and
the products
help would
in order to deliver higher
1. Which
of the
current age?
value, and
build more
[ ] 18-25
[ ] 25-35
[ ] 35-45
[ ]customer
45 and above
types ofinquestions
in in
such as: open
2. DoThere
you use
your vehicle
the one
ended, closed ended, multiple choice, scaled and others. Although the open ended questions
[ ] YES
[ ] NO
can provide deep information about each customers opinion, fixed answer questions have the
3. advantage
If you do,that
of products
do you prefer?
the responding
process and the analysis of the replies.
[ ] hangers
[ ] vent-clip [ ] canned
[ ] aerosols [ ] other type
4. How long would you like your air-freshenerthe
last?page) is an example that can be
used [to] find
the opinion
of the
air fresheners
users.[ I]should
days [ ] 14-30
[ ] 30-45
[ ] 45-60 days
over 60note
daysfrom the
5. For
that that
it is addressed
amount oftotime,
own (in
or drive
are youand
to pay?
are potential
[ ] >30
buyers of the products.
6. Using the scale below, grade the following characteristics of an air freshener in general,
The population taken into account for this survey will be the people from Bucharest
to your
who own oron
a car.
Although according
we should have
a clear
view of the size of the population,
1= unimportant, 2=less important, 3=fairly important, 4=important, 5=very important
for this case Long
it is quite
difficult to know, because Bucharest
[ is]a city of transit and there are a
lot of peoplePrice
here but are registered in other cities; [also] there are many cars (especially
company cars)
in Bucharest but which are driven
[ in] other cities where the company
form &based
runs its operations.
on the fact that there[are]almost 900000 cars registered in
Bucharest, we will consider that the number of cars driven[ in ]other cities compensates the
number of people
that live in Bucharest and are registered[ in other
cities and also have or
7. What brand of car air freshener do you usually buy?
drive cars. Therefore the population considered for this survey will be N=900.000 people.
[ ] Areon
[ ] California Scents
[ ] Wunder-Baum [ ] Other: ..
[ ]The
Purstep for
[ ] computing
Gas stationthe
brand)of error
sample[ size
be choosing
the margin
in the We
which basically shows how closely the answers received will be to the true value.
choose the most common value which is the e=5% margin of error, or confidence interval.
9. Have you ever used one of our products?
Further, a confidence level should be chosen, which shows how accurate the answers
[ ] YES
[ ] NO
will integrate into the chosen confidence interval. Again we will choose the most commonly
10. If
to theAnother
was YES,
the characteristics,
is 95%.
is thecould
which tells
how based
much variance
be accepted
usual isusing
on your should
with our
below? level
to a Z-number,
in our case
will be 4=satisfied,
1= unsatisfied,
5=the best Ive tried
Long lasting
[ ] Packaging, form & design
[ ]
Price range
[ ] Adjustable intensity
[ ]
Fragrance aroma
[ ] Other:
[ ]
11. Do you have any other comments or suggestions regarding our company, products or
formula above, the necessary sample size will be of 384 people.
Thank you!


5. Conclusions
The California Car Scents air fresheners are convenience products which possess a
wide set of competitive advantages in relation to their competitors on the Romanian market,
which we described in detail in the first chapter. Although the leader of this market is in its
maturity stage of the product life cycle, the products we analyse are somewhere between the
introduction stage and the growth one, as they were introduced relatively recent and they
market share is following a growing trend.
Based on the above statement, the product has a high potential of developing its status
on the market and further actions should be directed into advertising and raising the customer
awareness as high as possible. Another path that should be exploited would be the one of
automotive enthusiast as the product is quite popular among them.

[1] Philip Kotler, Gary Armstrong Principles of Marketing, 15th Edition Pearson
Education, 2014;
[2] California Scents Website -
[3] Survey Monkey Website -