Package and Product Design as One

Personal care products offer a unique opportunity to develop packaging that is part-and-parcel with the product.

The Package, Dispensing Technique and Product Formula Are Inseparable in the Growing Dry Shampoo Market

By Chi Le, Senior Director R&D, and Ian Fishman, Vice President Innovation & New Business Development at PLZ Personal Care

Once relegated to emergency touchups, dry shampoo has become a popular essential for many consumers. Mordor Intelligence forecasted a 6.5% compound annual growth rate during 2022-2027 for dry shampoo, driven by changing consumer preferences and lifestyles, as well as rising interest in waterless products. Also, social media influencers offering exposure to new and niche brands are supporting market growth worldwide, they report.

Packaging for dry shampoo doubles as a delivery mechanism, intrinsically tied to the product’s composition, viscosity, ingredients and other characteristics. As such, special product/package requirements and important regulatory guardrails associated with aerosols and ingredients must be considered.

For the packaging team on a personal care product line, this offers a unique opportunity to develop packaging that is part-and-parcel with the product. With chemistry, physics, material science and geometry intricately entwined, the contents, container and dispenser must all be carefully matched and tested. This article addresses the special product/packaging requirements for dry shampoos, with a focus on the influence of consumer drivers and preferences, as well as the important guidelines to be aware of when developing and packaging dry shampoo products for the market.

Consumer preferences drive personal care innovation

Like the fashion industry, the personal care/beauty products market is always striving to synchronize with consumers’ evolving mindsets, behaviors and preferences. Since 2020, that evolution has been dramatically accelerated and communal. More people are gravitating to healthier and more sustainable product purchases with greater awareness of how connected we all are, and of our shared responsibility to the planet and one another. Because consumers are increasingly focused on buying from companies they trust, they also expect product and company transparency – easy access to facts they will consider in their purchasing decisions. They want to know the products are safe for their health and the environment.

In dry shampoo, consumers are paying special attention and looking with extra diligence for healthy options after issues were raised in 2022 about the potential presence of benzene. That makes it more important than ever for brands to show they’re listening and are addressing consumer concerns. Successful brands will be formulated (or reformulated) accordingly with careful ingredient selection, full product disclosure and a package/product marriage that conveys a clear and honest message.

What is dry shampoo?

Convenient, waterless dry shampoos can deliver style control that smooths the cuticle, protects color and adds shine, volume or texture without weighing the hair down. They also offer on-the-go convenience for fresher, shinier hair.

To create healthy dry shampoo products that deliver these benefits, it’s important to first understand their formulation makeup. Usually made with a base of alcohol or starch, dry shampoos absorb oil and grease to make the hair appear cleaner. Many types of dry shampoo are available for different effects. Some are made for specific hair types (curly, extra oily, etc.) or results, while others offer attributes such as herbal, natural or color-safe features.

When developing dry shampoo products, critical product/package requirements and regulatory guidelines to consider include the following.

  • Dry shampoo packaging must optimize delivery of the product itself in use. An all-natural, vegan, almond-scented shampoo might sound great to one buyer, but it won’t get a second chance if the product clumps inside the dispenser when they get it home. The optimal delivery mechanism is specifically designed to fit with the product formulation and desired results. Any substance, whether it’s an oil, powder, liquid or anything else, needs to be compatible with the dispenser capabilities. The packaging limitation is driven by the orifice size required for particles to feed through an aerosol valve and actuator.
  • Package design plays a starring role in consumer appeal. Dry shampoo packaging is a marketing tool as well as a container that can support a brand refresh, reformulation or repositioning to meet new market demands. Like any retail package, it must first grab the shopper’s attention and convey the product benefits within the context of a contemporary consumer mindset. Today, that may include product attributes like natural ingredients, fair trade and so forth. Trial sizes give consumers on-the-go convenience and allows them to try different products before choosing the one they like best. An innovative combination of product formulation and dispensing technique can become an overnight sensation. For example, adding a specialized actuator that sits over the valve can elevate the product’s appearance as an elegant luxury.
  • Aerosol products are subject to increasingly stringent regulatory controls. Global brands face a variety of requirements and regulations based upon the market or region where products will be sold. Aerosol products sold in the U.S. are facing an imminent deadline to meet new California restrictions according to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Consumer Products Regulation requiring reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in personal care products to a maximum allowance of 50%, effective January 1, 2023. VOCs, including chemicals such as propane and butane, are commonly used as aerosol propellants. Any products manufactured after December 31, 2022 containing more than 50% VOCs cannot be sold in California. It’s important to keep in mind that California is a bellwether state whose environmental regulations tend to spread across the U.S., so they must not be minimized.
  • Healthy ingredients and sustainability are priorities. Consumers are learning to simplify their lives, and convenience is highly valued – but they’re no longer willing to disregard any tradeoffs that might compromise their values or jeopardize their health. With greater awareness comes greater responsibility. Help them do the right thing by offering clean products in sustainable packaging and make it obvious.

Marrying the product and packaging

Consumers like new ideas and sometimes a new package or delivery mechanism is a big sales incentive. Changes that align a product with current trends will make it more attractive. While it might be as simple as new graphics on an aerosol can, consumers are increasingly getting excited about deeper innovation, personalized product options, and improved results from the products they buy.

Brands understand the power of these benefits and are expanding opportunities within this segment by considering the package design and product formulation together, as a whole. It’s critical to work with a product development team that has intimate knowledge and expertise in the market, the science, and the marriage between package and product in this growing field.

About the Authors

Chi Le, Senior Director R&D Personal Care at PLZ Corp., has over 20 years of formulation expertise in the PC industry.

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