Open to change: convenient package designs for grab-and-go drinks

27 June 2017

Fitting into consumers’ busy lives means that convenience is a top priority for packaging design, closely followed by adaptability. Beverage closures play a vital role in delivering drinks that can be easily enjoyed on the go and provide a degree of personalisation. Ceri Jones looks at GlobalData insights to find the latest in beverage closures.

In the world of innovative drinks, convenience is king. Almost all consumers are seeking out drinks that can be easily consumed on the go, or cleanly resealed for gradual drinking. GlobalData consumer data shows that in today’s fast-moving world, 32% of consumers look to portability when choosing a beverage on the go, as it may be carried by hand or in a bag for some time. To support these increasingly hectic lifestyles, beverage manufacturers are embracing new closure formats that visibly stand apart on the shelf, signifying the product’s functionality along with an easy grab-and-go simplicity.

One of the most responsive beverage closure formats of recent years is the sports cap, which has transformed from the push-pull caps that are effective but are often opened with teeth, wearing down the material over time and presenting hygiene and choking issues. Today, myriad styles of sports caps are available to manufacturers and there is still room for innovation.

A significant sports cap market disrupter was introduced earlier this year when Lucozade Ribena Suntory launched its Ribena Mini juice drinks with a new type of closure. Designed to address the needs of children and parents, the 200ml PET bottles have a unique button-activated sports cap, making it easier for a child to open the drink unassisted, or a busy adult who may only be using one hand.

“We’re always talking to parents to find out how children use our drinks,” says Satvinder Dhillon, packaging development at Lucozade Ribena Suntory. “The overriding feedback was that they wanted a resealable bottle that would reduce the mess their little ones make. Clearly, introducing a no-spill closure was going to offer a real point of difference in the market.”

The Ribena Mini closure is an injection-moulded, three-piece PP screw-top sports closure. It comprises a silicon dispensing valve inside a spout, covered by a flip-top hinged lid activated by a press button. It is screwed on to the bottle and has a tamper-evident ‘stay on’ band.

The benefits of the push-button cap extend beyond resealing the bottle. It covers key areas of consumer concern; for instance, the flip-top lid keeps the spout clean between uses, such as being carried inside a bag. The silicon dispensing valve ensures that, even if shaken, dropped or rolled around, liquid will not leak out. Finally, the tamperevident ‘stay on’ band means the cap cannot be accidentally lost as the closure cannot fall and roll away.

However, the differentiating innovative factor is the sports cap’s push button. Besides being convenient, releasing the lid at the touch of a button means the opening gesture is simpler for a person with reduced dexterity, such as a grandparent, and adds an element of fun for young consumers. Once depressed, the button then deforms and whitens, indicating that the product has been opened.

“We continue to assess the technical suitability and cost feasibility of new innovations,” Dhillon says. “We are always looking to create products that improve a consumer’s experience and, of course, we would support further rollout where relevant.”

And the push-button sports cap is broadly relevant to other segments. While designed according to children’s habits, the sports cap is suitable for a variety of applications outside of juices, including sports drinks and waters, due to its extra accessibility.

Also making a splash in convenience is Press’d Coffee’s 100% Arabica coffee concentrate. A unique concept in the hot beverage sector, Press’d Coffee produces premium-quality liquid concentrate in a handy pack more familiar to the water enhancer sector. Instant coffee products are popular for their convenience in situations when people are time-poor; for example, at work where it isn’t always possible to use the coffee-making paraphernalia required to brew roasted beans. Focusing on taking a share of these occasions, Press’d Coffee delivers the flavour and aroma of a genuine roasted coffee without the need to dispose of grounds and clean a pot.

“We wanted to give people the ability to have 16 cups with them anywhere in a pocket-sized bottle, so the concentrate format in a multiserve bottle was the best choice,” says Sara Gamay, director of Press’d Coffee. “This dispensing closure ensures multiple servings with single dosing. Customers can take their coffee anywhere in their handbag without fear of the coffee spilling because the valve does not leak. There is no exact dose for each serving size so customers have the ability to customise their cup, squeezing more for a stronger coffee or less for a lighter cup, according to preference.”

The pack consists of an extrusion blow-moulded HDPE bottle, with an injection-moulded, plastic snap-on closure that has a protruding lip to the front of a butterfly-hinged flip-top lid. A silicon dispensing valve is set into its raised nozzle and a moulded sealing node sits under the lid.

Although Press’d suggests the coffee concentrate can also be used to add flavour to foods when baking, as well as to milkshakes and smoothies, its primary use is likely to be as a premium alternative to instant coffee granules. Each pack has enough concentrate for 16 servings of about 3ml each and the silicon valve provides dispensing control so that one quick squeeze expels a fine jet of approximately one serving. The dispenser avoids mess and adds the ability to personalise drink strength, or combine coffee flavours.

Make it your own

Global interest in health and well-being is strong, and growing numbers of consumers are looking for beverages with added nutrients or functionality. However, mistrust of uncertified buzzwords such as ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ means products have to go further to assert authenticity. One way to do this is having the consumer feel they are taking part in the preparation of the product. GlobalData reports that personalisation is a key influencer, providing more specific and targeted products. However, 36% of consumers say they are not influenced by personalisation claims. Creating a product that allows room for personalisation but also requires the consumer to take part in the process in some way will help a brand stand out.

Matcha Now from Buddha Teas is a refreshing drink that uses water and powdered matcha tea. It is said to be organic, GM-free, vegan and natural. It appeals to consumers looking for a beverage that meets their ethical values while being convenient and uncompromising on nutrition.

Matcha is a slightly grassy-tasting green tea from Japan renowned for its antioxidants and naturally stimulating effects, due to the high level of caffeine. In the UK, 65% of consumers believe that green tea has a positive impact on their health. The addition of positive, ethical statements creates a wellrounded message for a drink with unmistakable appeal to these people.

However, despite the longevity of dried leaves and powder, the tea oxidises once it is added to liquid, losing its vigour and turning an unappetising colour. To combat this, Buddha Teas released the new drink with an inspired dispensing closure system. The injection blow-moulded clear PET bottle features a two-piece, screw-on closure.

This closure is a pearlised white plastic cap with evenly spaced grip ridges, an auto-break tamper band to the base, and a protruding compartment that holds the matcha powder mix underneath.

We’re always talking to parents to find out how children use our drinks. The overriding feedback was that they wanted a resealable bottle that would reduce the mess their little ones make.

A pale green, plastic butterfly-shaped twist cap with grip ridges around two of its sides is permanently friction-fitted over the screw cap. It turns clockwise to open the compartment of matcha tea powder.

With a simple twist action, the powdered matcha tea drops into the compartment inside the screw cap that is sealed by a plastic membrane. Once the green cap is twisted, a raised fin pushes down on the membrane, breaking it around its thinner perimeter and releasing the matcha into the water below. A thorough shake and the consumer has a fresh, sweet, nutritious drink, which they have also had a hand in preparing.

Similarly, the new Bobik children’s drink from ISOline uses a concealed compartment closure to store its powdered raspberry flavouring separately from the water. The drink contains added vitamin D and zinc, ingredients that degrade over time. Holding them inside the sealed cap ensures these ingredients are kept separate from the water until needed and the flavour of the drink remains fresh.

According to GlobalData, many manufacturers are producing packaging that encourages interaction for children and adults, helping them feel a physical connection with the brand. This can be seen with Buddha Teas’ Matcha Now drink, where the closure requires manual ingredient mixing, allowing the user to feel involved in the preparation of the drink.

The extra-large screw cap closure is a single piece of injection-moulded plastic. It has a drinking spout and an auto-break tamper band at the base, a hinged overcap with a sealing ring at the bottom to close off the spout, and a tear-off, tamper-evident tab on the front.

ISOline’s Bobik drink has a one-piece closure that holds the flavouring powder in the lid compartment, covered by a heat-sealed foil membrane. The user simply tears off the tab, tips the powder into the bottle, replaces the closure and shakes it up until the powder is dissolved. This manual mixing may seem more basic, but it allows the drink’s flavour strength to be customised, an important factor according to GlobalData’s beverage trends.

Outside the box

GlobalData research says that imageconscious consumers often lead busy lives and so are interested in packaging that offers greater functionality. Simple solutions, such as dosage control or pre-dosage of additives, reinforces convenience, especially for those who are frequently out of home. Smart dosage solutions can be seen across several sectors.

Combining this functionality with health and well-being products offers multiple benefits. For instance, Yakult Korea released an updated version of the functional probiotic drink that is part of its weight management range. Yakult Skin Slim LOOK claims to aid slimming by turning carbohydrates into fat. LOOK has retained its exterior aesthetic, of a small plastic bottle with a tapered mid-section representing a slender waistline, but the closure has been transformed.

The injection stretch-blow moulded plastic bottle now conceals an injection-moulded, plastic nonremovable basket, which is frictionfitted to the inside of the bottle neck. This is protected by a plastic screw cap with auto-break tamper band reaching the base and a tall sealing ring to the underside. Everything is covered by an injection-moulded PP overcap, permanently friction-fitted over the screw cap as one piece.

Unscrewing the cap, the consumer reveals two diet pills nested in the basket inside the lid. These can be removed or eaten straight from the basket, and swallowed along with the probiotic drink.

The interior basket keeps the pills dry and free from air or moisture contamination, and provides a convenient, hygienic way to take the diet pills. But it also gives the experience a pharmaceutical aspect, reassuring the consumer of the authenticity of the product and instilling faith in the results.

Three cool innovations

  • WhiteWave Foods’ coffee creamer brand International Delight has launched the new One Touch Latte, an aerosol can with a standard nozzle of actuator and valve. When pressed, it dispenses a stream of foam, turning a coffee into a latte.
  • Magners Irish Cider recently added a rip-cap aluminium closure consisting of a plastic ringpull and liner to its glass bottles. While not a new closure, the format is original in the cider segment. Additionally, as cider consumption booms in the warmer months switching from a crown to a ringpull aids social and outdoor drinking.
  • Drumshambo Gunpowder Irish Gin has developed an attractive new bottle topped with a wooden cork. The friction-fit closure has a tapered, wooden top. A copper-effect metal ring debossed with the branding sits underneath, with a plastic-coated cork plug at the bottom. Wood adds a traditional, natural aesthetic to the gin, emphasising its premium taste derived from a blend of fruits and Asian spices.

The Bobik children’s drink has a concealed compartment with flavouring powder.

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