Dispensers: That ‘Aha’ Moment
Pump purveyors look to lure cash-strapped consumers with fresh designs, tech innovations, and eco-friendly packages.By John Conroy
The fragrance market stinks.
Yes, perfume and cologne scents are as enticing as ever. But are they alluring enough to entice cash-conscious buyers to open thinner pocketbooks?
The struggling U.S. economy and changing personal habits have combined to send fragrance sales on a slight downward slide. “The fragrance market is going through some difficulty right now,” says Marty Kleinman, a marketing communications specialist for Rexam Personal Care (Purchase, NY). “Sales are a little flat.”
“The market’s very volatile right now because of problems with the economy,” agrees Claudio Arena, general manager, Chong Woo America (New York City).
A recent report by NPD Group (Port Washington, NY) confirms that U.S. sales of prestige fragrances declined 1% in 2007 to $2.94 billion over the previous year. Although sales of men’s fragrances grew 1.3% in 2007, sales of women’s scents declined for a second straight year, the report notes. That’s not exactly hold-your-nose horrible, but ongoing talk of a recession, coupled with high gas prices and the home mortgage meltdown, may relegate discretionary purchases to the bottom of most shopping lists.
Always looking for the next product splash, manufacturers of cosmetic and personal care dispensers hope to buck the bad numbers by launching products with fresh design, technological, and eco-friendly features. All are aimed at creating what Kleinman calls “that ‘aha’ moment on the shelf.”
The secret to winning discretionary buyers is “exciting consumers at the point of sale,” Kleinman says. Rexam believes it has done just that with the recent launch of the XD11 pump for the luxury market. The pump’s “neutrality,” which is its main selling point, ensures that “nothing is going to affect the formulation” inside the dispenser, he notes. In addition, an ultralow profile gives the dispenser a sleek and very elegant look that is ideal for iconic fragrances, Kleinman says.
For the mass market, Rexam unveiled the XM99 plastic fragrance pump at Cosmoprof Bologna 2008 in April. Calling it “very vibrant,” Kleinman says the all-plastic pump “offers high dependability, very sleek looks, and color flexibility for super on-shelf appearance.” Collar and actuator can be ordered in the same color or in two colors, which include white, black, natural, orange, red, and pink. Single-material assembly makes recycling easier, according to Rexam.
Say Bye-Bye to VOCs
The environment in the Golden State was on the minds of designers at Crown Holdings (Philadelphia), which introduced its EarthSafe dispensing system in May 2008. The system is manufactured to comply with a mandate by California’s Air Resources Board to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in specific consumer products by 2010, the company says.
The EarthSafe system features advanced valve technology that ensures consistent flow rates and total product evacuation from start to finish, the company says. Codeveloped with patent-holder Ultramotive Corp. (Bethel, VT), the package uses compressed air instead of hydrocarbons as a propellant.
Raymond McGowan, president of Crown America, notes that the metal dispenser “can be infinitely recycled with absolutely no loss or alteration in quality.” Suitable for gels and other personal care products, the EarthSafe system will make its commercial debut in 2009.
Respect for the environment also motivates Lumson Cosmetic Packaging Industries (Capergnancia, Cremona, Italy), says Stefano Focolari, chief marketing and product design officer. “This is more than a trend; it’s a choice of responsibility toward the future of our children. Lumson has been working for years to try to create more-sustainable packaging,” he notes. The company recently received Ecocert certification verifying that Lumson’s manufacturing process, materials, and decoration meet European environmental requirements, according to Focolari.
Design and Functionality
In addition to their green attributes, all of Lumson’s dispensing systems incorporate the manufacturer’s Smart engine. Lumson has introduced four new cosmetic pumps so far this year with two more in the offing. The manufacturer is also developing an airless system for the high-end cosmetics market that will use a Snap-On neck for rapid filling and airtight operation, Focolari says.
Keeping all design, production, assembly, decorating, and other functions completely in-house enables Lumson to compete better against Asia-based suppliers on quality, according to Focolari. He cites the company’s Joli pump as “a perfect example” of Lumson’s focus on design and functionality.
Trying to lure customers using a combination of aesthetics and technology, MeadWestvaco Calmar (Grandview, MO) says its new Clikit IP pump targets prestige fragrance brands. MWV Calmar, which introduced the package in May 2008, describes it as a resin-injected version of the supplier’s ultralow-profile Melodie Clikit pump.
Sandy Gregory, marketing director for MWV Calmar’s fragrance division, says the company wanted to draw on its “expertise in resin injection to create this perfect but cost-effective pump without making any concessions on the final finish.” Because of the click-on feature, the dispenser comes preassembled, which can improve throughput on filling lines, Gregory adds.
Chong Woo America’s Arena says some customers are examining ways to lower production expenses and retain package quality. On the developmental front, the company has visited trade shows with a new oil-dispensing product that overcomes the fact that “oil and plastic don’t mix that well,” Arena says. After working on the concept for awhile, Chong Woo believes it has found a solution that will work for spa and massage products, Arena says. “Some people are warming up to it,” he notes.
Shoppers counting pennies may also warm up to another package now in the preview stage. Emsar (Stratford, CT) has begun showing samples of its CleanDispense GS lotion pump, says Des McEttrick, global marketing director. Designed for the GS Twist & Lock dispenser, the new actuator has a soft top that prevents drips by drawing lotion back into the pump after use.
Aside from the practical benefits, the soft top has an elegant tactility and a three-part construction that lends itself to striking color combinations, McEttrick says. Developed for the liquid soap market, the CleanDispense pump will become available in 2009. “We feel it could have applications well beyond that, just based on the whole aesthetic feel and look,” McEttrick adds.