Full article from Cosmetic Business
Scent’s unsung heroes, fragrance pumps, are essential to delivering the perfume experience customers crave
Humankind has long understood and celebrated the power of fragrance, dating as far back as the ancient Egyptians who harnessed scents for prayers and special religious occasions.
And, as with all long standing traditions, the role of fragrance in people’s lives has continued to evolve, develop and diversify throughout the ages and cultures – even weathering such significant storms as the global Covid-19 pandemic.
As one of the beauty sectors richest in storytelling, perfume houses have long excelled in enticing consumers into a world of luxury, extravagance and elegance with a spritz.
Recent years, however, have seen the category develop in more diverse ways, from brands deciding to abandon the traditional ‘oriental’ scent family in favour of more inclusive language to the rise of more sustainable and personalised fragrance launches more targeted towards wellbeing.
“It’s an understatement to suggest the pandemic has been an unnerving experience for most of the world,” Sandy Gregory, Director of Fragrance Marketing at Silgan Dispensing, tells Cosmetics Business.
“Amidst all the daily stressors, people have sought new ways to both escape and reclaim a sense of calm in their lives.
“For many, fragrances have helped achieve this – emerging as a powerful way to boost feelings of tranquility, glamour and escape, particularly during a time where luxuries like travel weren’t possible.”
Sales reflect this: while beauty took a sales hit across the board, scent was one of the best performing categories in prestige beauty in 2020, surprising analysts with its decline of -17% compared with skin care’s -21% and make-up’s whopping -40% plummet (The NPD Group).
“The performance of fragrance has been a welcome surprise given the doom and gloom around the category at the start of the pandemic,” commented Simon Murray, Brand Manager at beauty brand consultancy The Red Tree.
“It isn’t just something you wear when you attend a special occasion, it is something you wear as part of your ‘everyday’ to evoke special feelings and create beloved sensations.”
And in a somewhat ironic twist, the key to creating these sought after experiences is the one least likely to cross consumers’ minds when they reach for their favourite scent: the fragrance pump.
“Ideally, you don’t want your clients to mention or even think about pumps, because if they were to notice, it would probably be that it malfunctioned,” Linda Pilkington, CEO and founder of luxury perfume brand Ormonde Jayne, tells Cosmetics Business.
While the pump itself may be designed to be unobtrusive, however, the sensorial experience of the spray is key for brands and consumers, and “the industry has invested a lot of time and money into the science of spraying perfume”.
Thanks to consumer studies, “we [have] identified that consumers have multiple ways to apply fragrance”, Sophie Magdeleine, Strategic Marketing Manager GMI at Aptar Beauty + Home, tells Cosmetics Business.
It is crucial, therefore, for brands to choose the right kind of pump and spray pattern to offer their target audience the most desirable experience.
Interestingly, these desires may be shaped by a number of factors including culture, geographical location and gender.
For example, “the control of the dosage is an important point in Brazil, [while] in the Middle East there is a desire for generous application”, says Magdeleine.
“Whereas in China, the need to control the scent flow is key.”
Meanwhile, Silgan’s Gregory adds: “Generally, there are differences between how men and women classify a good spray, [while] different age groups can also have varying preferences.
“Men often expect an immediate, utilitarian and focused spray, whereas women view perfuming as a moment of abstraction.
“Walking into a cloud of perfume elicits a sense of sensuality, refinement and luxury for them, which must be woven into the pump design.”
Pump it up
Gregory stresses: “The type of pump and spray pattern are fundamental to the fragrance experience.
“There is incredible nuance in how a spray pattern is formed as the fragrance is being dispensed, to how it sounds and how it lands on the skin — all of these factors contribute to the overall experience of a fragrance and can take a person on a transformative journey.”
Pump manufacturers are now offering a wide array of options for brands to cater to these nuanced customer needs.
Silgan has built its spray portfolio around the idea of fragrance as a “deeply personal experience”, she adds, the heart of which is its Emotions of Spray Collection.
“When we first developed the collection ten years ago, it was among the first of its kind based on consumer research and insights to develop specific sprays that elicit distinct fragrance experiences,” Gregory says.
The collection began with the Melodie pump (pictured), which has been designed to create a “feeling of refined luxury”, and has since evolved to offer Melodie Forever, said to offer a unique sound with its prolonged and soft spray and controllable actuation
Melodie Mystery offers a longer and more enveloping spray for an “elegant and intimate” feeling, while Melodie Agile provides a fine and powerful dispersion with solid and precise actuation and Melodie Pure is said to be ideal for water-based formulations with a small output and controllable actuation to avoid an excessive wet feeling.
There is also the XD 11 Panache, designed to entice the user into “a world of purity, opulence and sensuality” with its continuous and sustained spray duration, consisting of extremely fine droplets to create a dry and airy mist.
All of the pumps feature versionable moulds and automated assembly to allow for greater creative freedom in design, plus decoration options including engraving, embossing, in-house laser marking, hot stamping and silk screening.
Meanwhile Sinfonia Elegance is the latest iteration of the company’s Sinfonia spray.
Said to be ideal for brands that do not want to compromise on customer experience, it features a noiseless spray that requires less force to dispense.
Customers can also choose from a range of spray outputs, including Sinfonia Infinite, which is said to provide a 200% longer spray and 2.5x smaller droplets than traditional fine mist sprayers for a “cloud-like” emission and a greater product adherence on the skin.
Aptar, meanwhile, recently launched its Inune collection, comprising four sprays designed to provide different sensorial experiences.
These include Classic Inune, which is said to be ideal for edt sprays and offers a short and precise spray for everyday use.
It can be sprayed onto pulse points as often as the consumer likes for a “vitalising ritual”, says Magdeleine.
Making up the rest of the collection is Inune High Definition Spray, a light and wider spray “like a caress” said to be suited for eau de cologne, light fragrances and hair mists.
Precious Inune is a fine mist spray that lasts three times longer than the classic Inune, providing a continuous diffusion that can be sprayed in an “embracing gesture” on the neck, décolleté or arm to create a more sensorial ritual.
Finally, the Silk spray features a delicate and slow diffusion lasting ten times longer than the classic that is said to create “an ultra soft sensation like a veil of fragrance”.
It is said to be the first totally silent and bespoke spray, allowing users to personalise their experience from a discreet touch of scent to a generous and enveloping spray.
Meanwhile, the continuous and ultra-fine diffusion is said to fade the alcohol smell found in fragrances to enhance olfactive perception, according to Aptar.
Refill & recycle
With many fragrance brands adopting refillable and/or recyclable packaging options for eco-conscious consumers, this is also very much on the agenda for pumps manufacturers.
“Part of what affects the scent experience is how the product aligns with the user’s own ideals and beliefs,” says Gregory.
“For many, sustainability is important and informs their buying decisions across all categories.
“Something we found from our own study of consumer attitudes toward sustainability is how important refillable solutions are, which both Melodie Pirouette and XD 11 Pirouette offer.
Aptar’s Inune line is also designed in line with the company’s circular economy approach, with all of the pumps offering refillable and recyclable solutions for brand partners.
In addition, the line is POM-free and 10% lighter than alternative pumps on the market.
The pumps can also be easily recycled, as they can be left on the perfume bottle and placed in the glass recycling stream.
“Brands are looking for pumps that can be recycled like glass, so there is a trend towards monomaterial,” adds Bérangère Raguenet, Marketing and Communications Director at French glass specialist Verescence, which has created perfume bottles for the likes of Dior, Chanel and Givenchy.
“We support brands in the development of screw rings, allowing the consumer to refill the bottle at home or in-store, as well as facilitating the recycling of the various components (glass, plastic, alu[minium]).”
Spraying it forward
From the perfumer’s point of view, Pilkington notes, practical as well as aesthetic considerations are crucial when selecting a pump for their scent.
“You have to look at the profile of your bottle, and the height of the bottle – what will fit your overcap? Will it be in the right proportion for your bottle?
“If, for instance, you have a long tall spray pump, it will suit a long slim bottle.
“The crucial part is accommodating your overcap with each spray pump; the pump is usually determined by the design of the overcap.”
She adds: “As we only have one size of overcap for all our bottles, we only use one type of pump – the FEA15, which is the standard pump on the market.”
However, as the fragrance market continues to diversify, brands may find that one size does not fit all as far as their formulation is concerned.
Today, as Aptar’s Magdeleine observes, “there are more and more types of formulation and way[s] to apply, reinforcing the need to adapt the spray to the formulation”.
“There is a continuous trend of premiumisation with launch acceleration of edp[s] and growth of niche brands, which raise the importance of the experience and the high desire for sensoriality.
“For elixir or perfumed oil, a precise gesture is key.”
Pilkington recalls: “I adored [Silgan’s] Panache, but we couldn’t use it because we use a high percentage of oils in our formulations which clogged up the pipe.”
Other innovations seek to streamline the manufacturing process; while pumps are usually crimped onto the bottle neck before being fitted with an aluminium collar, more companies are offering crimpless, click-on solutions.
These click-on sprayers are supplied with the aluminium ferrule already attached, aiming to reduce purchase complexity for manufacturers.
Silgan’s Melodie line includes Melodie Clikit and Clikit IP, a click-on pump which is delivered preassembled to simplify the filling process, helping brands increase productivity and cut costs.
Finally, while brands may be chasing differentiation to help their products stand out, in the pumps sector standardisation is equally important, according to Gregory.
“Standardisation among pumps is immensely critical to supporting the development of more refillable solutions,” she tells Cosmetics Business.
To this end, Silgan has partnered with the Centre Technique International de l’Embouteillage verre et PET (Cetie), which provides packaging standardisation across a variety of sectors with a focus on maintaining high quality and safety for bottled products across international markets.
In a blog post on the company’s website, Juan Albi, Silgan’s Packaging Project Team Leader, revealed: “Our current focus is helping develop a new standard for screw necks for glass bottles to improve interchangeability with screw pumps, like our Melodie Pirouette and XD 11 Pirouette.”
As Gregory notes, these standards are important to establish with regards to consumers seeking refillable fragrance solutions, as despite demand “there are a variety of technical challenges impeding their progress”.
“One hurdle they came up against was the absence of norms for the bottlenecks of glass packaging, which was the impetus for forming the Flaconnage Geometry Group [a group within Cetie that focuses on perfumery neck finish geometry and test methods],” she explains.
This work helped Silgan to establish the Screw Neck International normal for three different bottle neck sizes – SNI13, SNI15 and SNI17 – that are said to enable the company to respond to demand for refillable, reusable and/or detachable perfume packaging.
“Lending our R&D expertise with other professionals across the industry is helping to solve this challenge to eventually give way to more refillable products, which will be tremendously helpful for brands, consumers and the environment,” says Gregory.
Indeed, Aptar is among the other companies adopting Cetie standards for its own Inune pumps, which can be easily and interchangeably screwed onto any glass bottle meeting these requirements.
Gregory adds: “It might seem contradictory, but standardisation is key to driving innovation in the packaging industry.
“By improving interchangeability between components, brands and packaging, design firms can focus their attention on solutions that address consumers’ top interests around sustainable packaging and refillable products.”