Procter & Gamble's Febreze has smell of success

Febreze products.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: The recession has taught a lot of us what we can live without and what we can't. Air freshener, it appears, is in the second category. One specific brand, in fact.

Procter and Gamble said today that sales of Febreze have hit the billion-dollar mark, even as other household products are struggling. Marketplace's Janet Babin reports the housing market may stink, but when it comes to homes, they have to pass the smell test.


Janet Babin: No one really needs air freshener. So how did Procter and Gamble get Febreze to $1 billion in sales?

It sold itself as more than an air freshener, something that killed odors lurking in sofas and curtains, stuff that's expensive to actually clean.

Debra Kaye heads product innovation firm Lucule.

Debra Kaye: And then it came in as a non-aerosol. The product was the message, so they had the look of something new, and they had the smell and the cure to something new.

In all kinds of trendy scents. P&G's Lee Bansil says there are more than 2,000 Febreze products, like:

Lee Bansil: Hawaiian Aloha, Brazilian Carnival, New Zealand Springs.

Burt Flickinger with the Strategic Resource Group says Febreze sells especially well in Asia.

Burt Flinkinger: Products like Febreze smell like America; they smell clean.

And that can mask a lot of American dirtiness -- from stinky sneakers to a smokin' college dorm room -- literally!

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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