Special Dispensation

10 September 2018

Dispensing technologies have continued to evolve to meet an increasingly demanding consumer that wants convenience, portability, no residue or waste and simple metered or targeted amounts delivered at push of a button. Dave Howell reports on how brands are using the latest technologies to meet these needs

The packaging form factors that adorn retailers’ shelves are all examples of a development path their brands have been travelling for decades. The dispensing mechanisms in use today are examples of how brands have reacted to changes in consumer lifestyles.


In the beauty sector in particular, convenient mess-free dispensing has become a critical component of the packaging form factors brands are now using. Packaging and the dispensing systems they use have also become brand differentiators especially within sectors that can be highly commoditised.


The changing lifestyles of consumers that are increasingly on the move has also lead to dispensing that supports these changes. Over recent years the shrinking size of aerosols is a good example of how packaging and dispensing mechanism have reacted to consumer change.


A good recent example can be seen from Comprehensive Cranium Care. The grooming range was created for the balding community. The C3 Head Wash is a multi-use cleanser for the scalp, face, and neck. Speaking to Packaging Today, founder, Adam Fitting explained how the brand chose its dispensing technology:


“Using Albea’s F2 foam pump gives us the ability to deliver our head wash product in a way that’s optimal for bald and shaved heads. By mechanically generating the foam, we’re maximizing surface area of our formula, thereby allowing customers to get an economical and maximally effective delivery of our product along with sensory and tactile benefits. It also allows us to mechanically induce foam without using foaming agents which can be persistent in the environment or cause irritation to the sensitive skin of the scalp and face.”


Specialist products like this will always seek to use packaging design and dispensing techniques to enhance their brands. At the other end of the spectrum, the mass-market is not forgetting that the dispensing mechanisms they choose are also important. The recent 25th anniversary of the Bathtime Buddies range from H&A illustrates this as the new pack includes and easy use pump dispenser.




Innovative dispensing


One of the key trends that brands are supporting is dual dispensing. The ability to mix two or more formulations together across the cosmetics and more recently food sectors offers brands the opportunity to create unique and personalised products.


The customisation of perfumes for instance is expanding thanks to the available multi-mix dispensing technologies that have become available. Redken (L’Oreal) have been using this technology for several years. Major growth is expected in this sector as more brands move to offer dual dispensing products. A current good example from another company is Double Serum by Clarins that uses one push-button to mix and then dispenses the product. Using a form factor from Aptar, the dispenser is easily handled by the consumer


Another area of growth that brands are embracing is dry product dispensing. From cosmetic powders to hair products, dispensing solutions from developers including Quadpack and Yonwoo are already being adopted by brands who are listening to their customers who want more convenient ways to dispense these products.


The new airless dispensing system from Silgan is another innovation that brands will be embracing. “Pearl Baby Bear delivers on our brand promise to provide our clients and their customers a better dispensing experience,” said David Keegan, director, Beauty and Personal Care Marketing, of Silgan Dispensing. “Our research shows that moms are looking for packaging that’s both functional and fun. Pearl Baby Bear brings together the emotional and functional benefits moms are after. The decorative cap captures baby’s attention, while the airless pump provides the safe, hygienic and effortless experience that’s a must-have for mothers.”


Beiersdorf and its Nivea brand have also recently updated some of their range of deodorants. Developed by Weener Plastics, the new form factors include a new twist-lock spray cap. The design speaks to the need of the product’s users for ease of use, which the new cap dispenser provides.


The changing demands of consumers are also pushing packaging designers and developers to offer not only novel and innovative form factors, but the hands-on use of these forms must also deliver convenience. Dispensing technologies have clearly developed to meet these needs for brands that can see they must transform to remain destination brands in their market sectors.




Brand options


When selecting packaging for a new product or to update or enhance an existing range, brands are increasingly looking for multi-functional approaches that offer their customers innovation. L’Oréal USA for instance have looked closely at the form factors they use for their Seed Phytonutrients brand, which consists of a bottle made from recycled paper.


Daniel Osborne, assistant vice president, Development, Americas, L’Oréal explained to Packaging Today: “As consumers push for natural and customized products, the challenge to deliver on the demands of the customer will push this sector. Our bottle consists of a paper structure that encompasses a plastic membrane.”


Osborne concluded: “This allows us to minimize the amount of plastic in our product while also enabling a great consumer use and product protection.  To allow this system to work, the dispensing pump was a critical component as a vacuum is needed to ensure the consumer could fully evacuate all of the formula since the package is not squeezable.”


The need to choose the right dispensing technology to use was echoed by Comprehensive Cranium Care’s Adam Fitting: “Matching brand and product with the right dispenser is crucially important. Brands, products and dispensers go hand-in-hand, from the design stages all the way through to customer experience. Innovative designs in the packaging space allow us to explore possibilities with our formulations and be innovative in the way we deliver products, as well as create a customer experience that aligns with our brand.”


Brands choose which dispensing technologies to use based on an equation that has radically changed over the last decade. Where functionality was the core driver, today dispensers need to offer much more. Reacting to changes in how consumers use their products based on their changing lifestyles, brands and their converting partners have continued to innovate.




One of the most important sectors for dispensing technologies is pharma. Products must perform but this doesn’t mean brands can’t innovate with new form factors. An example is the recent collaboration with Mundipharma and the London-based strategic consultancy Precipice Design to produce the new k-haler device.


To gain an insight into how dispending design has evolved, Packaging Today spoke with Miles Hawley, chief design officer, Precipice Design and began by asking what dispensing technologies has recently caught his eye?


“I was struck by Voltarol Gel with No Mess Applicator. It’s interesting as it has the double function of dispensing and applying. It’s a big USP for the brand with a huge ad campaign. But having purchased one, I’m not convinced it’s any more effective than using the traditional pack and using your fingers to apply. It’s a multi-step process to set up and still requires thorough cleaning after use.”


What are the key drivers behind dispenser technology at the moment?

“Ease of use has been the Holy Grail for brands, but this often just means easy-to-open. With products such as the k-haler inhaler, there are demonstrable and measurable user benefits. It’s not just dispensing, there is an increased hygiene factor and improved device handling due to the integrated cap which when pulled back automatically loads the next dose.”


Pumps, sprays and flip top dispensers are all commonplace today. What’s next in this sector? “Additional functionality will play an ever-greater part – it’s not enough just to dispense effectively. With k-haler the dosing mechanism of the dispenser forms part of the mouthpiece cover, so there is an ergonomic advantage for those with restricted manual abilities.”



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