According to a recent survey of 250 brand owners across the consumer packaged goods spectrum by L.E.K. Consulting, 90% of brand owners say packaging is critical to their brand’s success — a way to adapt to industry pressures, including fast-changing consumer tastes and preferences.

Consumers are becoming less loyal and more open to local brands,1 and millennial consumers are especially likely to seek out the new, different and authentic. Disposable income is decreasing for the majority of the population in advanced economies, according to the paper. Cost-conscious shoppers are fueling market share growth of private-label products. To cope with increased price pressure, FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) manufacturers typically target packaging as a focus for cost savings. In the long run that can be a losing proposition. 

User Experience Defines the Brand

The choice of a fine-mist sprayer used in conjunction with your brand’s packaging can keep a consumer buying a product or send that person to a competing brand. An article titled, “11 Best Makeup Setting Sprays” on bears this out. The article reviews inexpensive to expensive makeup-setting sprays. One of the review criteria is how well the fine-mist sprayer 
dispenses product. Eight out of the 11 products have negative sprayer reviews with comments ranging from “nozzle may malfunction with frequent use” and “sprayer nozzle needs frequent cleaning” to “spray can be splotchy” and “sprayer doesn’t produce a fine enough mist.”

“The [fine-mist spray] device is the product and is the brand,” said Stephan Ballot, vice president at Flocon Inc. in Woodstock, Illinois, a maker of fine-mist spray devices. “The brand is what makes someone remember the product and that is the identity of the product. The chemistry of the fluid inside is what does the work for the end-user; that’s what performs and accomplishes what someone is after whether that is a personal care product, or it’s a cleaning product or it’s a fragrance, that’s what brings satisfaction. That’s what accomplishes the task we are trying to complete. But then the device itself is what delivers. And if something can’t deliver that chemistry, the job doesn’t get done,” he added.

Getting the Right Dispensing Device

When choosing a fine-mist sprayer, knowing the compatibility of the fluid and the device, lifespan of the device versus the product and the balance of performance to price point are crucial. Cost, of course, is a big consideration, but the overall value the dispenser brings to the user experience needs to be the primary decision driver.

Start with compatibility. Make sure the plastics in the dispenser resist the chemistry in the product’s fluid. Take the time to test the chemistry with the plastics. Make sure the plastics don’t swell, shrink or become brittle. Test to ensure consistency. The dispenser needs to deliver a consistent spray in a variety of environments — where temperatures can range wildly, usage can be intermittent and storage can be careless. End-users don’t want to think about the dispenser. They expect it to deliver the same way every time.

Fine-mist sprayers have to be durable and withstand environmental changes. They have to be able to withstand being placed into gym bags and gear bags and thrown around. Some products will be used in manufacturing environments where sprayers may have to endure temperature swings from minus 40˚F to 130˚F. Some may sit in a garage unused for several months between uses. In the personal care industry, some products have ingredients that have a tendency to cake or clog in some dispensing units. A strong fine-mist sprayer has an actuator system that overcomes the issues of hard crust and cake that can occur at the end of a sprayer. In the case of insect repellents, the chemistries involved in those fluids have a tendency to degrade or cause changes to the many plastics used in dispensers. Brand owners should look for dispensers that are inert to those formulations. 

“The dispensing experience is becoming more important as more innovative dispensing options become available. And consumers simply won’t put up with a bad dispensing experience, even with a product they love,” said Kevin Keating, president of PKG, a package design, strategy and branding agency based in Chicago. That’s a strong statement, but it cuts to the heart of the battle for the loyalty and dollars of consumers who are being overwhelmed by different, but similar products on store shelves. It also puts brand and product managers on notice: Neglect the fine-mist sprayer on top of your product at your brand’s peril.

1          ”No Ordinary Disruption – Winning With New Models In Packaging,” McKinsey and Company, May 2019.