BY BRITTANY BROLLEY
While shopping malls are dying, Bath & Body Works stores are not only managing to stay afloat, but they’ve been experiencing exponential growth, according to Forbes. The company, which is owned by L Brands, was founded in 1990 and, by the early aughts, had likely become a favorite store of many. For years, we all walked around smelling of Warm Vanilla Sugar or Cucumber Melon or — who could forget — Sweet Pea. Ah, good times, good times.
While you may have since swapped out your body spray for a pricier perfume, Bath & Body Works continues to be, according to L Brands, “one of the world’s leading specialty retailers and home to America’s Favorite Fragrances.” If it’s been a while since you’ve stepped foot in your local Bath & Body Works, it might be time to pay the store a visit — at least for nostalgia’s sake. But, before you do, here are some things you should know.
The science behind the scents
If you were to get a whiff of your old faithful Bath & Body Works scent, you’d probably feel as if you were instantly transported back in time. Smells conjure up memories, Ken Heilman, a professor of neurology and health psychology at the University of Florida, confirmed when speaking to NBC News. He revealed, “When you smell things you remember your emotions…” As it happens, nostalgia is also part of what goes into making Bath & Body Works’ iconic fragrances. So, even if you never smelled a particular scent from the retailer, you might still get that warm, fuzzy feeling.
In an interview with HelloGiggles, Patricia Bilodeau, the vice president and senior perfumer of the Scent and Care Division North America who works with Bath & Body Works, said her love of music, cooking, and baking has provided inspiration for different fragrances. Bilodeau was actually one of the brains behind one of the retailer’s first scents, Twisted Peppermint. “To me, this scent captures the nostalgic spirit of the holidays and I think that’s what people love about it,” the expert reflected. And who wouldn’t want their very own bottle of nostalgia?
Welcome to Kate’s house
It’s strange, but, when you walk into Bath & Body Works, you’ll often feel like you’re at home despite being in a shopping mall. That’s not all due to the nostalgic scents, though. It’s how the store is designed. According to Forbes, Bath & Body Works products were first sold within Express, which was at one time owned by L Brands. When developing Bath & Body works stores, the company decided to change up the brand to create “a down-home style entity” and even came up with a fictional founder, “Kate.” And Kate is a big part of the retailer’s cozy feel.
“Each store is modeled like Kate’s house and customers are treated as her guests,” the publication reported. “Inside the store, an employee clad in a plaid apron greets the customer and explains the weekly promotional offers.” That’s why shopping at Bath & Body Works never quite feels like shopping. Not every store could pull off this vibe, of course, and many would have a hard time smelling as good.
Try their bestselling fragrance
In 2006, Bath & Body Works released a new fragrance: Japanese Cherry Blossom. And, before we knew it, it was as if the whole nation — or at least every mall in America — smelled of the stuff. Yes, we were hooked. In fact, there are plenty of people who are still hooked on the scent. The company told PopSugar in 2017 that Japanese Cherry Blossom is still their bestselling fragrance throughout the United States. Over 30 million iterations of the scent — be it hand soap, body cream, shower gel, sugar scrubs, room sprays, wax melts, or other products — are sold each and every year.
If you didn’t buy into the hype the first time around or you simply forgot what it smells like, the company’s site describes it as “an oh-so-fresh blend of Japanese cherry blossoms, crisp pears, mimosa petals [and] sweet sandalwood” with an additional key note of White Jasmine.
“Retired,” not gone
Japanese Cherry Blossom isn’t the only fragrance from the aughts to live on. In January 2019, Bath & Body Works brought back dozens of fragrances from the ’90s and 2000s, including Pink Cashmere and, yes, Twilight Woods. But 2019 isn’t the only year they’ve done this. Every year, the company brings back a variety of retired fragrances, according to a spokesperson for the brand.
“We love to give the assortment a seasonal twist and bring back some new surprises for our customers,” the spokesperson told NBC’s Today. Some of those surprises include customers’ “beloved fragrances.” As of June 2019, you could snatch up a bunch of retired favorites like Oahu Coconut Sunset, Love & Sunshine, Wild Honeysuckle, Mad About You, Juniper Breeze, and even Plumeria. There’s no telling how long these scents will be available — and there’s no way to tell if they’ll come again or not — so we won’t blame you if you feel compelled to, you know, buy them all.
So. Many. Fragrances.
If older scents aren’t your jam, there are a ridiculous amount of other fragrances from which to choose. On any given day, Bath & Body Works has between 300 and 400 unique scents in their stores, brand representatives confirmed to Bustle. The number of scents the retailer carries can even reach 500 during the holiday season. Bath & Body Works frequently rotates their fragrances, yes, but that’s not to say there are never any new scents. Au contraire.
About once per month, the retailer explained to PopSugar, Bath & Body Works releases a brand new fragrance collection, which includes products like hand soap and lotion. The company also launches about 200 unique scents every year.
In April 2019, for example, the brand launched a spring collection with the new scent Gingham. Firmenich master perfumer Honorine Blanc explained the scent in a press release: “Each fragrance I create for Bath & Body Works has a story and a strong identity — for Gingham, I wanted to capture a fragrance that connects with the consumer, connects with nature and is the happiest fragrance ever.” According to the retailer’s site, the scent combines “notes of blue freesia, sweet clementine, [and] soft violet petals.”
The “mastige” niche
Part of Bath & Body Works’ appeal is its price point. Sure, you could spend $105 on a 1.7-ounce bottle of Chanel No. 5. Alternatively, you could choose to purchase a larger 2.5-ounce bottle of Gingham Eau de Parfum from Bath & Body Works for $49.50.
Kosha Gada — a digital marketing expert and principal at A.T. Kearney, a global management and strategy consulting firm — explained it this way when speaking to Racked: “Their target is what we call the mastige segment.” She shared, “It’s not prestige and it’s not mass — it’s really about figuring out this niche of very American-centric shoppers that wants a notch above drugstore brands, but are still quite conscious.” And thankfully for Bath & Body Works, there aren’t many competitors in the “mastige” market, according to Gada.
Bath & Body Works also offers many inexpensive products, with some retailing as low as $3.50. Of course, this means many shoppers can afford to purchase more than one product at a time. Soyoung Kang, Bath & Body Works’ vice president of brand development, told the publication that many customers own “multiple fragrances” and use them as “a way to accessorize their style.”
Shop the big sales
Twice a year, Bath & Body Works runs a gigantic sale. According to the brand’s site, one sale begins “right after Christmas” and the other “kicks off during the summer months.” Unlike many store sales than run for a set amount of time, Bath & Body Works’ semi-annual sales end when the products are gone. The retailer promises savings up to 75 percent on pretty much everything in-store and online, including aromatherapy and body care products. Most of the items that go on sale during this time are indeed deeply discounted — usually by at least 50 percent.
For those who like to buy their body care products in bulk or like to give them away as gifts, these sales provide an opportunity to do so while saving a whole lot of money. Although the retailer offers other sales and deals throughout the rest of the year, the brand recommends getting “your best haul” during one of their two semi-annual sales.
Try their products in-store
If you’ve never tried Bath & Body Works products — or if it’s been some time since you have — you’re not obligated to buy the product before you get a chance to use it. The stores were actually set up with sampling in mind. And that doesn’t just apply to lotions and body sprays. The Bath & Body Works team confirmed to PopSugar that every store has a sink for their customers to use while sampling products. This means guests can even try out hand soaps, scrubs, shower gels, and plenty of other products before they make a commitment to buy.
But what happens if you sample and purchase a fragrance only to later realize you’re not into it anymore? That’s no biggie, according to the brand’s return policy. “We just want you to love it! Return anything, anytime for any reason. 100% Guaranteed,” Bath & Body Works’ site reveals.
A global reach
If you want to feel like you’re at home while on vacation, visiting the local Bath & Body Works may just be the way to do it. Although the brand got its start in the United States — its first store opened in Massachusetts and its headquarters is in Ohio, as noted by Racked — there are now locations all over the world.
Nearly two decades after opening stores in the U.S., Bath & Body Works extended its reach by opening six stores in Canada — three in Toronto and three in Ontario. Since then, the retailer has furthered its expansion across the globe. When speaking to PopSugar, Bath & Body Works confirmed store locations in Australia, United Arab Emirates, and Thailand — among others. According to Racked, there were over 1,600 locations in North America alone by 2014. As the company’s site confirms, Bath & Body Works can even be found in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Venezuela.
The closest thing to smell-o-vision
Part of why Bath & Body Works is thriving while other brick-and-mortar stores owned by L Brands — like Victoria’s Secret — are failing is partly because the fragrance retailer doesn’t sell clothing. “Apparel is more difficult than ever,” Lee Peterson, executive vice president of thought leadership and marketing at WD Partners, explained to Retail Dive. Of course, that’s not the only reason the brand is doing well. He explained, saying, “It’s more that it’s not apparel, but it is also execution — they’ve got things down to a science.” He added, “But when it’s just bottles of stuff and not clothes, it’s not as complicated. It’s also the kind of thing you’ve got to smell it to check it out, so you’re less threatened by it online.”
Nevertheless, Forbes reported in 2019 that even Bath & Body Works’ revenue from online sales have been increasing. It may seem daunting to pick out a fragrance online, but Bath & Body Works combats that with their “Find A Fragrance” tool, where consumers can search through easily defined categories of scents — like citrus, fruit, and floral. And, apparently, it’s working.
A case of the Mondays
There are times when Bath & Body Works announces a new collection in advance, but, more often than not, they announce their new products on the same day they’re available for purchase. Nevertheless, Cia Arielle, a longtime Bath & Body Works customer, pretty much knows when to expect them. “Their launches are always on Mondays, unless they change something with corporate,” she told Racked back in 2014. Sure enough, that information still holds true today.
If you were to take a look back at some of the company’s launches — including the brand’s Gingham fragrance collection in April 2019, the 75-fragrances holiday release in October 2018, and even the Water collection in May 2018 — you’d notice that all just so happened to take place on a Monday. Plus, with Bath & Body Works’ confirmation to PopSugar that new products launch about once a month, well, we have a pretty good idea of when you should run out to the store to pick up the new goodies.
Don’t forget about the candles
Bath & Body Works isn’t just a home to, well, bath and body works. The retailer also sells candles. In fact, Bath & Body Works revealed in a press release that they produce candles in more fragrances than any other candle maker. That’s pretty amazing considering some may not even realize that Bath & Body Works is, indeed, a candle maker. The company has also been hosting an Annual Candle Day since 2013, with huge discounts on their 3-Wick candles — new and old.
“It is like a holiday. You can feel it in the air,” customer Joy McDowell told Bustle. “I got to my store right before it opened and there was another woman there who was waiting for them to lift the gate and she had a dozen donuts for the [sales associates] in one hand, and a stack of coupons and a list of what candles she wanted in the other. It was on.” Another candle fan, Serina Cota, told the publication she purchased 66 candles on the special day. McDowell explained, “The candle community is strong.”
The store isn’t just for women
In an interview with PopSugar in 2017, Bath & Body Works revealed that about 740,000 women visit a Bath & Body Works store each and every day. Needless to say, the retailer’s main audience is women. That’s not to say men don’t shop at the stores, though.
The brand actually has its own Men’s Body Care line with colognes, body washes, body lotions, body sprays, and — for the guys who don’t want a ton of products — the two-in-one Hair and Body Wash. According to the company’s site, “Bath & Body Works body care for men combines intoxicating fragrances with the world’s finest ingredients to offer a variety of formulas that conveniently fit into any routine.” Bath & Body Works also offers shaving creams that “produce a creamy, softening lather that protects all skin types while it cools and leaves skin with a refreshing fragrance.”
The retailer has a cult following
Despite your love for Bath & Body Works in the 2000s, you probably don’t hold a (3-Wick) candle to modern-day stans. Serina Cota, for example, told Bustle that she stops into her local Bath & Body Works once a week. By 2018, she’d amassed a Bath & Body Works collection of over 250 body care products and 180 candles.
Jodi Severinski, the founder of a Bath & Body Works fan account on Instagram and an employee at one of the brand’s Canadian locations, told Bustle, “We have quite a few regulars.” Of those regulars, some travel up to five hours to get to the store. “Some of them are [in] every month or so and they’ll stock up and buy a cart full of candles,” Severinski revealed. “We have a few people who will borrow a cart from Walmart and fill up about four or five candle crates when they do their trips. Each crate can hold six candles.” If you don’t own any Bath & Body Works products, it’s about time to see what the fuss is all about. Though, we’ll warn you: You may never look back.
SOURCE: THE LIST