The Power of Packaging

June 6, 2006

Manufacturers trust that visual effects and advances in innovation will make products stand out on retail shelves.

Berry-Tubed Products uses a metallic finish on personal care packaging to catch consumer attention.
The Power of Packaging

Manufacturers trust that visual effects and advances in innovation will make products stand out on retail shelves.

Ava Caridad
Associate Editor

Appearance and brand recognition are important, especially when a product is vying for consumer attention on a crowded shelf. The product itself may be fantastic, and the dispenser the most modern and convenient, but if the shopper doesn’t pick it up and look at it in the first place, the chances of getting it purchased are slim to none.

Unusual shapes and sizes, sparkling colors, notable dispensers and caps, as well as ergonomics and ease of use, all add to the allure of a package at point-of-purchase. Happi spoke to an array of packaging manufacturers to find out what was new in the world of packaging, and what the consumer wants.

Surface Beauty

Brand managers of household and personal care products know they only have a couple of seconds to lure the consumer with a product that stands out from the crowd and makes he or she want to purchase their particular brand over the competition.

Avon relies on Crown Risdon to give its eyeliner packaging that certain sparkle.
Explained Liza Beyer, inside sales/marketing at Lerman Container/Custom Bottle, Naugatuck, CT, “Many of our customers were asking for a new up-to-date decorating option. New this year, beyond our many custom molds, is hot stamping.  This attractive decorating feature makes packages pop!”

Crown Risdon, Watertown, CT, supplies the complete package for Avon’s “Sparkle ‘n’ Shine” eyeliner. The product contains ingredients featuring particles of suspended glitter that sparkle when applied. The eyeliner is fitted with a natural pony hair applicator and acetyl wand in an aluminum cap anodized in black, with the product in a molded clear plastic bottle showing the two different colors. The bottle’s decoration is hot-die stamped with high shine black foil.

The company also uses hydrographics, an innovative decorating technique (by Immersion Graphics Corp. under the trade mark, Final Finish), to add a natural, rich wood look to the cap on the new Tommy Bahama for Men fragrance from Gemini Cosmetics.

“We are always looking for new and exciting ways to make our customers’ products stand out,” said Jim Bigham, Crown Risdon director of sales and marketing for closures. “Hydrographics presents a different approach to cosmetics packaging decoration that will definitely draw the consumer’s attention to the product.”   

Hydrographics employs a liquid immersion procedure that gives the Tommy Bahama for Men’s cap a completely natural and realistic wood appearance. The wood pattern is printed on a film and floated atop a clear water surface in a custom-designed immersion tank.  A special chemical is used to dissolve the film, leaving just the image floating on the water’s surface. The Men’s Surlyn cap is then immersed in the tank. The cap takes on all the color and design elements of the original image, which uniformly clings to the cap’s surface, wrapping itself around every part and contour of the component.  After withdrawal from the tank, the cap is dried and given a protective lacquer coat.

ABA Packaging extended its Leah line of airless pumps; they now range from 7ml to 100ml.
According to Alex Piagnarelli, vice president of sales and marketing, M&H Plastics USA, Winchester, VA, M&H has recently introduced an in-mold frosting option on PVC and PETE bottles.

“This is a lower cost, more durable option to the conventional spray frosting that is done as a secondary procedure,” he said.

When asked what new concepts in stylization were introduced by Berry Tubed Products, Easthampton, MA, this year, Woody Wehr, sales and marketing executive, pointed to the company’s metallic finish tubes.

“Our metallic tubes were introduced as a high-style packaging approach to enhance upscale health and beauty products,” he explained.

In addition to expanding its line of heavy wall PETG jars up to 200ml, Portola Tech International, Woonsocket, RI, who also primarily works with polypropylene, ABS and surlyn, has initiated the process of thermally applied graphics as a replacement for silk screening, according to Dan Carter, senior vice president.

Plastics. There’s a Great Future in Plastics...

Or so we (and Dustin Hoffman) were told in The Graduate. Maybe his father’s friend was right. Plastics are a less expensive alternative to glass, and as technology becomes more and more sophisticated, so do the plastic containers.

“Lately consumers seem to be migrating toward unusual bottle shapes, said Howard Millstein, president of Ameri-Seal Inc. “They’ll typically pick them up and look at them, and studies say if a consumer picks a product up, the chances are higher that he will buy it.”

Valois’ Imagin sample sprayer helps marketers promote a fragrance through a variety of mediums.
Ms. Beyer agrees. “Lerman/Custom Container is always developing new bottle shapes, styles and colors, and using different resin grades to create different bottle textures. We are always looking for ways to change and expand our product line and our customers expect that,” she explained. “We primarily work with HDPE, and since we are an extrusion blow molder, this material works best in our machines. Although resin pricing is very volatile, HDPE seem to be the least expensive in the industry.”   

Design does indeed seem to be a major concern for developers. According to Mr. Piagnarelli, M&H introduces approximately 50 new bottle designs each year, providing the U.S. market with a variety of innovative, European style packaging. M&H works with all available extrusion blow mold materials such as HDPE, COEX HDPE, PVC PETG and PP, and soon will also offer PETE ISB bottles from its manufacturing plant in England.

Amber glass bottles have been drug-store staples for centuries, but translating their simple beauty into a line of varied plastic containers for Innersense organic personal care products was a challenge for Clariant Masterbatches ColorWorks, McHenry, IL.

“Amber is a complex color requiring an exact balance of several deep organic tones,” said Carolyn Sedgwick, ColorWorks business manager, consumer packaging. “Hit it wrong and you end up with something like green pea soup or mashed turnip. And with the Innersense project there was an extra level of complexity, since we needed to use this color with several different packages from multiple vendors. We were dealing with materials ranging from clear transparent PET bottles to semi-opaque LDPE tubes and translucent PP caps. Each of these materials responds differently to color.”  

According to the company, Clariant  doesn’t use artificial colors in its products, so it needed to adjust the color for each of the containers to achieve a uniform look, regardless of whether the product on the inside was clear or opaque, dark or light.

Plastic is the primary ingredient in all of the squeeze tubes produced by Tubed Products, explained Mr. Wehr, as they are unbreakable, provide many decorating options and are highly cost effective for packaging.

Cover Girl Outlast Liquid Makeup utilizes dual-dispensing technology from O-I Specialty Closures.
ABA Packaging Corporation, Holbrook, NY, has expanded its PETG Dakota heavyweight jar line to include 150ml and 200ml. These complement the existing stock of 7ml, 15ml, 30ml and 50ml Dakota jars. Charles Marchese, vice president of marketing and sales added, “The line extensions are due to high demand for an upscale PETG, and we have decided to stock these jars in our warehouse for quick delivery.  

“ABA Packaging was built on glass packaging with a wide variety of closures and dispensing systems,” he continued. Over the past few years we have greatly expanded into the PETG and airless pump areas to satisfy the needs of our customers. We are also extending our Leah line of airless pumps, which now come in sizes from 7ml to 100ml. We are always looking at the trends and try to be as proactive as possible with new developments.”

According to Mr. Millstein of Ameri-Seal, some companies are starting to offer a corn-based material versus petroleum-based, however, there are still many problems and obstacles to overcome in that area.

Protecting Your Investment

Marketers focus on creating in-store strategies that deliver consumer appeal through clear plastic bottles that display the product inside. Though it makes for great shelf appeal, it also presents a challenge when products are packaged in clear plastic, and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light can degrade delicate colors and ingredients, creating a negative experience for the consumer and eroding potential sales.

According to Lavonna Buehrig, business market manager, polymers, Eastman Chemical Company, personal care product manufacturers have recently discovered that using UV-protected polyethylene terephthalate (PET) to create clear and color tinted bottles gives them the best of both worlds—clear packaging that also helps preserve brand integrity by protecting products from harmful UV rays.

Emsar’s child resistant sprayer uses a
special tab to help keep kids safe.
A recent Eastman study on personal care products has shown that popular colorants such as external D&C Violet #2, D&C Red #33 and FD&C Blue #1 begin to degrade after only a few hours of UV exposure.  However, products packaged in PET resins incorporating UV protection, such as Eastman’s Vitiva product, remained undamaged after more than 20 hours of exposure to sunlight. Results also concluded that UV-absorbing PET adequately combines sun protection with the clarity of PET, giving manufacturers the freedom to formulate ingredients and packaging in ways that cost effectively meet demand.   

Aside from mitigating the damaging effects of UV light on dyes, studies showed that advanced PET resin also protected delicate ingredients such as vitamin C and even certain lipid compounds, Ms. Buehrig explained. In short, PET with UV guard gives brand owners the freedom to formulate with ingredients that in the past may have been avoided due to UV sensitivity. Because it is part of the polymer chain itself, PET with a UV shield poses no threat of foreign substances migrating into products or leaching that negatively impacts product integrity.

UV-guarded PET offers all the familiar benefits of regular PET, including oxygen gas barrier, organoleptic properties and drop-impact strength while meeting Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and recycling guidelines, according to Ms. Buehrig’s report.

What’s on Top of Your Bottle?

Advancements in containers are wonderful, but without the proper closure or dispenser, all, quite literally, is lost.

According to the suppliers interviewed by Happi, delivery systems are evolving rapidly to not only dispense, but add bonus features as well.

Emsar, Inc., Stratford, CT, launched a child resistant sprayer that stays closed until an adult opens it. The pump cannot be twisted off of the bottle unless significant pressure is applied.  To prevent children from spraying the product, there is a unique tab on the back of the actuator that must be pushed in while the actuator is twisted to spray the product.  

“The child resistant pump was developed because we saw a need for this type of packaging,” explained Des McEttrick, global marketing director.

Brad-Pak Enterprise’s neck finish for
bottles gives a controlled directional pour.
“We licensed the invention because we also see a trend, specifically for certain products, toward child resistancy and we see it as an added value.

Emsar’s 37MS fine mist sprayer is available with a high viscosity option, a 360 degree spray for easier all over body spray and a portable pump with locking door.  

“The child resistant closure allows us to offer yet another benefit in conjunction with the other options on the 37MS,” said Ms. McEttrick.    

The latest pump from Airspray International is the 2ml Symplicity, a new, smaller version of the 4ml Symplicity pump. Airspray is betting that the 2ml will be an even more popular size than the 4ml when it debuts at the end of this year.  

Also new from Airspay, slated to debut in early 2007, is the EZi Foamer. With the extraordinary success of foaming hand soaps, particularly popular with kids, Airspray realized the potential for developing a water resistant foamer with additional shower applications, such as body wash or shampoo. The patented technology of the EZi optimizes foam quality for the shower utilizing an open/close feature with a valve designed not to drip, even when open.  

“Airspray worked closely with customers to discover their wants and needs,” explained chief executive officer Robert Brands. “Hand held pumps are not ideal for the shower, so this new foamer is a lot easier and provides a higher output than existing foamers.”

Airspray International’s EZi Foamer was designed specifically for use in the shower or bath.
Sales of foamers continue to soar. According to Airspray, last year their foamer segment grew 40% in volume, largely due to hand soap but also in part because of new applications, such as dishwashing foam.

“Foam seems to be the future,” said Mr. Brands, who added that for both pumps and foamers, dual dispensers are a growing trend. While they present some filling challenges, he indicated there has been increased interest in developing formulas for both dual foamers and foam dispensers.

Procter & Gamble has jumped on the dual dispenser bandwagon with Cover Girl Outlast Liquid Makeup. The popular makeup is packaged in a dual-chamber 44ml bottle with custom-designed, dual-hinge closures created and produced by O-I Specialty Closures. The obelisk-shaped makeup container is designed to be stored standing on its closure end. According to company executives, initial consumer research indicates a preference for a dual-dispensing closure compared with traditional threaded closures.

Valois of America introduced a new flat spray sampling technology called Imagin, a sampler that offers several mediums of promoting a fragrance, including magazine insertion, cross promotion on designer clothing, CD or DVD insertion. It’s removable and can be used anywhere and at any time.

The Imagin sampler consists of two sub assemblies—a bag containing the actual fragrance and spray device, and the paperboard, which opens and expands the package to generate a spray as well as provide a large surface for decoration.

ClariantMasterbatches brings the old-time apothecary look to the 21st Century.
“The materials are attractive to marketers because they allow the consumer to experience the fragrance in its true environment,” said Edward J. Quinn, national director of sales, perfumery and cosmetics, Valois. “It’s removable from the magazine page and can be used where you want, when you want, with friends or family to share the fragrance experience.”

Also from Valois is the new Evocation cosmetic pump for the skin care market.

“The objective of Evocation was simple—keep it simple with a no nonsense design,” said Mr. Quinn. “One bottle design gives a more sleek and ‘feminine’ look while the other offers a more structured ‘masculine’ appearance. The performance of the pump offers a soft actuation utilizing our current Evolution pump engine, which is specifically designed for viscous products.”

The Cremosa pump is the result of a collaboration between DieterBakic Design and Pfeiffer, designed for the middle and high-end cosmetic industry. It comes in a smaller “gel-version” for facial products and a bigger “lotion-version” for bigger dose-volumes and bigger bottle-necks.  The shape of the haptic actuator makes for more comfortable and ergonomic handling. Both plastic and metal pumps are lockable. The lotion pump has a 24/410 closure and a dose volume of 0.28ml and 0.50ml. The gel pump has a 20/410 closure and a dose volume of 0.2ml.

The Deckless Flip-Loc is the latest closure from Berry-Tubed Products.
M&H Plastics USA introduced the X-Press closure (24/410 and 2" versions) which is a reciprocating closure that offers an alternative to the conventional disc top closures. Berry Tubed Products recently unveiled the Deckless Flip-Loc Dispens-R tubes that have an innovative, non-removable self dispensing closure.

Brad-Pak Enterprises patented a unique neck finish for bottles that gives a controlled directional pour.  According to company executives, the proprietary design offers a revolutionary dispensing system and it gives packages a new look to differentiate them from the competition. The dispensing system is designed for the personal care, cosmetics and nutraceuticals market.  

As more and more product launches crowd the personal care and household market, choices for consumers can be overwhelming and brand identity can be lost. Suppliers and marketers are attempting to make the choice quick and easy through eye-catching packaging, efficacious delivery and promises of product protection and ease-of-use. Will it work? Marketers seem to think so, as packaging design becomes more sophisticated in an attempt to attract shoppers and instill consumer confidence.