Is Airless Right For Your Brand And Products?
By Douglas Kliska
Executive Vice President, TricorBraun
AIRLESS TECHNOLOGY Q&A
What if I told you there is a dispensing technology system that can extend the shelf life of products, including organic products, without negatively impacting the quality?
What if I told you this system allows for up to 99 percent evacuation of the product?
What if I told you that more and more companies are considering or are already using this technology successfully?
The answer to these questions is airless packaging technology. As a brand owner, you probably have a lot of questions about a process that is the future of beauty and personal care packaging. In this Q&A, we’ll address common questions surrounding airless packaging technology to help you determine if airless is right for your brand and products.
What is Driving Airless Technology’s Growth?
While airless technology applies to many markets, including food, health care, ethical pharmaceutical and home care, it’s most prevalent in beauty and personal care. This includes products like serums, products with organic ingredients, products that require customization (such as individualized color matches), as well as skin, sun and hair care products. It’s not surprising to understand why airless technology appeals to beauty and personal care brand owners: The atmospheric system used in an airless technology system means there is no air intake and no air contact with the product formula so the preservation benefits are extraordinary.
Consider this: The global market for airless packaging is expected to reach $7.5 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of approximately 6.7% over the next decade.¹
What’s driving this remarkable growth? Two main drivers: One - consumer preference. Two - brand owners’ essential need to ensure product integrity.
For instance, packaging is a fundamental part of health and beauty aids, and in a market where conveying a sense of luxury and perception of a high-end product is very important, airless meets this need – it can create a “wow effect” that many consumers seek, particularly with prestige or masstige brands.
Airless technology is environmentally friendly, with zero CFC emissions. For consumers focused on sustainability, the recyclable and lightweight airless packaging adds value.
The increased use of antioxidants, enzymes, proteins and peptides and botanical actives in beauty and personal care products is influencing airless technology’s popularity. New generation airless platforms are required for packaging so these products are protected; it’s a hygienic solution. Since there is no air entering the product, brands can protect their products against impurities without adding preservatives – something that was nearly impossible just a decade ago and in demand as brands continue to evolve product ingredients.
Full product evacuation is another big driver. Consumers spending big money on products, especially cosmetics, want to make sure they are capable of evacuating all of the product. They want to get their money’s worth for these high price point products and use the very last drop.
Ergonomic and convenience is key. With 360-degree multi-position dispensing, product can be dispensed in any direction, making it easy to use upright or inverted, with zero interruption of actuation. The 360-degree dispensing capability – particularly for fine mist and lotion dispensing – makes it quick and easy to use.
Consumers also prefer products that meet their safety criteria. The non-pressurized tamper-proof dispensing system delivers a product that is safe, free of contaminants and unaltered.
¹ Research and Markets.
What Types of Airless Technology Are Available?
There are three popular airless technology systems:
1. Bag in Bottle (plastic bottles or jars)
2. Piston System (plastic bottles)
3. Bag on Valve (aluminum cans or plastic bottles)
The bag in bottle system consists of a bottle with an inner bag and an airless pump. As the consumer activates the pump the bag collapses, without air entering the system. With this system, there is more freedom of choice in bottle size and shape. The bag can be colored so no dye for the product is needed. UV can also be added to the bottle.
A piston system is a pressure control system; when consumers press the pump, the piston raises up. Evacuation of product with a piston system is about 98 - 99 percent. Historically, this system has been very popular with luxury cosmetic brands. However, this system is less sustainable and limits the packaging shape.
With Bag on Valve (BOV) systems, the product is contained inside the bag and the propellant remains outside the bag, inside the can or bottle. BOVs work with aluminum cans and plastic bottles, but a very specific grade of plastic is required to withstand the pressure exerted onto the bottle. With a BOV system, products can be dispensed in any form, whether it’s a liquid, gel, cream or another highly viscous substance, and in any position. BOVs are environmentally friendly, and protect the product from contamination.
At TricorBraun, we work with numerous global suppliers that provide various solutions for each of these airless technology types, as well as others. Our intimate knowledge of this technology and our ability to source the materials globally, backed with our purchasing power, enables us to recommend what’s best for your product.
Why Do Companies Choose Airless?
Airless technology is attractive to brands for several reasons. AG Hair, maker of high quality professional hair products inspired by fashion and culture, says that the top benefits of airless technology are the ability to differentiate their products and convey luxury. Other benefits recognized by brands include:
- A clean dispense of product
- Full evacuation, no waste
- Ease of use
- A targeted, controlled, precise application
- No oxidation means increased shelf life, in some cases up to 15 percent more
- Portable, easy to carry
- A higher perceived quality that customers are willing to pay for, especially for products that demand a premium such as skin care and high end cosmetics
What Considerations Does Airless Present?
With some airless solutions, there are considerations before implementation. For example, there may be operational costs to consider; some airless systems can increase your product’s cost of goods because they require a change to the filling process. (Historically brand owners have shied away from airless technology due to overall costs.) At TricorBraun we leverage our global supply chain to introduce more cost effective options to help provide a greater balance between operational cost and package cost of good requirements; this enables brand owners to access the packaging their products need.
Longer lead times due to international sourcing and higher minimum order quantities are also important considerations. Ensuring you have an inventory program to meet fluctuations in demand is critical when it comes to taking advantage of procuring solutions overseas. We can help.
But not all airless technology solutions are created equal; some don’t perform as effectively as others and can be difficult to prime and pump. Aligning the viscosity of your product to the appropriate system is critical.
IS AIRLESS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Airless is a sophisticated yet intricate packaging process that provides brands with many benefits – benefits that will have an important impact on how beauty and personal care products are packaged in the years to come. For some beauty and personal care products, airless is not only ideal, but the “must have” solution for product preservation and ingredient stabilization. Feedback from brands and consumers indicate that airless technology is here to stay, and we expect demand for different types of airless solutions to continue to grow.
However, airless is not without considerations, so it’s important that you make your decision based on consultation with an experienced and knowledgeable partner.
At TricorBraun we supply millions of airless packaging components to fulfill the needs of the world’s leading brands, so we understand the technology and have seen the demand for airless play out in our work with clients. This experience provides us with the expertise to understand what type of airless options work best for specific products.
Whether you are still debating if airless is right for you, or if you made your decision to pursue airless but need a partner to help get you there – or maybe you already use airless but want to refresh your packaging, TricorBraun can help you navigate the many options available with stock, custom or combination solutions so your brand can win on the shelf.
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