Negative Reviews for Scented Candles Rise Along with COVID-19 Cases

Could the angry reviewers be suffering from COVID-19-related loss of smell and simply not be aware?
Loukia Papadopoulos

COVID-19 has been correlated with and responsible for many things that need to be taken quite seriously including a struggling economy and job losses. On a funnier note, however, there is one strange COVID-19 correlation that can give us a much needed good laugh.


It seems that the negative reviews of Amazon's three best selling scented candles have increased along with COVID-19 cases. This correlation could of course be associated with the fact that the virus causes a loss of senses including smell.

This link was first noticed by affective and social psych/neuro student Kate Petrova who did more than just giggle at the fact; she straight up investigated it using mathematical analysis and graphs.

Petrova first downloaded a random subsample of U.S.-based customer reviews of the three most popular scented candles on Amazon. She found that between January 2017 and January 2020, the average rating stayed around 4.3/5.

However, between January and November 2020 (a time when COVID-19 cases were on the rise), there was a sharp drop in candle ratings. To investigate further, she plotted the reviews of the three most popular unscented candles on Amazon for comparison purposes.

She was then amazed by the difference. The unscented candle reviews seemed unaffected during the COVID-19 period.

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"Since the beginning of 2020, customer satisfaction with scented candles has been dropping at a much faster rate compared to unscented candles," wrote Petrova. She further expanded her sample to include the top five scented candles.

In the process, she discovered that: "since the beginning of this year, the proportion of reviews mentioning lack of scent grew from < 2% in January to close to 6% in November." What a find!

You can follow her whole process including graphs by clicking on her tweet and you will discover too why scented candles are "unexpected victims" of the current pandemic. How sad!

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