Bath & Body Works used to be the place you’d head to snag a Cucumber Melon body mist and some glitter body lotion. Now, though, the brand couples its nostalgia-inducing body care items with another product that’s quickly become a cultural cornerstone: its scented three-wick holiday candles.
This year, Bath & Body Works is launching its full line of Christmas candles Nov. 1, and it’s sure to incite a ruckus. The candles are so popular, they’ve inspired viral rants and hundreds of YouTube “haul” videos.
So what exactly makes B&BW candles so popular, and how are they made? To find out, we spoke with Chrissy Montera, executive vice-president of marketing, and Lisa de Perio, tech vice-president of candles. While they couldn’t spill all the wax, here’s a bit more insight into how your favorite candles are made.
According to both Montera and de Perio, there’s no single way a scent makes its way onto Bath & Body Works’ shelves. Instead, ideas are pulled from a multitude of places, including customers.
Montera explained that the brand takes its customer base—which ranges in age from 9 to 90—very seriously, particularly when it comes to discovering new scents. With such a wide array of products, this large demographic makes sense, but it’s also a lot of people to please. This is why the company turns to them for help.
“Each time we develop a new collection,” said Montera, “we try to find white spaces in our olfactive portfolio in order to fill every fragrance preference possible. We stay close to our customers to understand their needs and preferences, and test fragrances with them to ensure we’re delivering fragrances they will love.”
Of course, someone has to craft those fragrances before they go out to customers. Bath & Body Works has a collection of people who help form the first phases. Their in-house developers use their own lives as inspiration for new scents, including everything from their travels to their daily lives. Trends, however, also play a part in development.
“We work with some of the world’s most renowned fragrance houses and perfumers to create new fragrances,” said de Perio. “These creative and innovative groups come together to translate the top global trends that are emerging and help bring them to life.”
So once Bath & Body Works has its seasonal scents finalized, what happens next? Well, according to both Montera and de Perio, the journey from scent to candle involves multiple departments coming together, including production and marketing.
A global team of designers help create some of the brand’s iconic holiday marketing—like this year’s adorable illustrated tree farms and luxe geometric shapes. Like the creative teams who create the scents, those in marketing pull from wider trends already found on the market.
“It takes a village to create one candle,” said de Perio. “Dozens of cross-functional people across merchandising, packaging design, and fragrance development, come together to create a finished candle all the way from the initial sketch design.”
Once the marketing has been created, though, each candle must then undergo rigorous testing to ensure it meets Bath & Body Works’ standards.
“Our candles are tested by world-renowned, independent, accredited consumer product testing labs,” said de Perio. “If a product doesn’t meet our stringent safety and quality evaluations, we don’t sell it.”
If you’ve ever had a three-wick candle from Bath & Body Works, you probably already know why they stand apart. As a dedicated fan, I can name several: the even burn, room-filling scents, and regular sales prices. But maybe that’s just me.
De Perio got down to the nitty-gritty of why Bath & Body Works’ candles are different (in addition to that intense testing process).
“We have amazing room-filling fragrances,” said de Perio, “in a patented soy wax blend with natural essential oils and quality, lead-free wicks.”
For Montera, it’s the sheer breadth of styles and scents that make the brand’s candles different from the others on the market. B&BW makes a candle for everyone at any point in their life, from decorating a first apartment or filling a home office with scent, to gifting one of the signature item.
And we’d have to agree—the versatility of Bath & Body Works candle collection is in a class all its own.
Whether you already have a stash of Bath & Body Works candles or you need a refresh for the holidays, you now have a bit more insight on what goes into making these iconic goods. From customer input to rigorous quality testing, it’s no easy feat to make your home smell like Christmas, but Bath & Body Works does it so well.