Right-Sizing Aerosol and Liquid Formulations for Travel-Size Products and Packaging

By Matt Levesque, Director of Operations, Precise Packaging LLC

The growth of small, sample sizes across the personal care, household and over-the-counter (OTC) markets is poised to continue as consumers have become more educated and vocal about their buying options. The rising popularity of these small-sized products is being driven by a perfect storm of customer wishes, with shoppers demanding the mobility, cost and convenience that travel and trial-size products bring.

A variety of products are popping up in travel and trial-sized packaging including everything from moisturizers and body sprays to high-growth products such as breath sprays, lens cleaners, dry shampoo sprays, air/surface disinfectant sprays, odor elimination sprays, hand sanitizers, home fragrance products, and beyond.

Mobility

Whether it’s for business trips, vacations or running errands, consumers are on the move, and shuffling from practices to meetings to classes on a daily basis. Airline travel restrictions and baggage fees are also incentivizing travelers to forgo checked luggage in favor of a carry-on, limiting gels and aerosols to 3.4-ounce containers. Travel-size products fill the demand for packable items that can be easily thrown into a backpack, purse, briefcase or car – at a fraction of the price of their full-size counterparts.

CPG companies and retailers have caught on to this trend, and are offering a limitless amount of small products – from the traditional staples of mini shampoos and body sprays to innovative flip-top PET packaging for liquid pump sprays and pen-sized aerosol formats.

Cost

Trial-size packaging also delivers the perfect amount of product for today’s discerning customers to try out before making a commitment. This especially rings true among Millennials, for whom cost can be a barrier to purchase, particularly for products that are highly personal such as skin care, cosmetics and hair care.

Consider a pricey beauty product, like a $50 makeup foundation. You might hesitate to make that investment if you aren’t sure how the product will react to your skin type so a trial size presents a great solution.

Specialty stores like Sephora and Ulta, and even big-box retailers like Target are responding to the demand for sample products by offering miniaturized versions of their finest products.

Convenience

People also increasingly want the convenience of sample sizes, like everything else, delivered to their door. Popular e-commerce subscription box services such as Birchbox and Ipsy are packaging beauty and personal care products in attractive, functional sample sizes that can be incorporated into thematic collections.

These product samples benefit both the brand and the buyer by establishing a connection and generating the feel-good vibe that consumers desire – creating the opportunity to gain new customers and potential brand loyalists. Nimble production facilities can produce trial-size products in smaller batches and shorter runs for filling and packaging more product variations, which can be used to test new scents or formulations.

Meeting the Demands of Today’s Mobile Lifestyle

Whether launching a new product or looking to offer a lower-priced, trial-size version of an existing product, brand owners must first ensure that their trial-size products function as well as their full-size counterparts.  Travel-size product packaging requires more accurate fill weights with much tighter tolerances. Not every product formulation is easily converted to sample size, as there may be fewer options for smaller packaging and dispensing components to package as little as 5 ml of product and valve sizes as small as 13 mm.

Aerosol and liquid formulation and filling specialists can help guide the research and development process and advise on how to select the right components, and test for stability and compatibility. They can also provide guidance on the proper levels and types of ingredients for the formulation, filling, packaging and delivery.

Packaging considerations such as the type and quality of caps for product protection, appropriate actuator selection to ensure that the packaging works with the product formulation, and style, durability and color are critical for success. For products that may use clear containers, including fragrance mists or hand sanitizers, it’s important to add the right type and level of additives to ensure product clarity.

When producing travel and trial-size merchandise, product development and packaging experts need to work closely with customers on overall product design. These experienced partners can help brand owners through the entire development process to quickly and efficiently deliver travel-size aerosol and liquid product formulations with the right packaging to please consumers.