Have we reached “peak aerosol”?

Written on: July 1, 2024 by Patrick Heskins

In April, the British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (BAMA) completed its filling statistics survey for 2023; the volume filled was roughly at the same level in 2023 as it was in 2022—just over 1.4 billion cans. Aerosol filling in the UK has been bouncing around the 1.3 to 1.5 billion mark for about 10 years now. In those years, we have lost some filling companies, some products have migrated overseas and other products have moved to the UK.

Elsewhere across Europe, filling figures have also remained fairly consistent, with single-digit growth in many markets and small reductions in others. This raises the question as to whether the use of aerosol dispensers in most Western economies has reached its peak—or, perhaps, we have passed the peak?

Some markets, such as Southeast Asia, China and Latin America, are still seeing positive growth. In Europe and the U.S., often in spite of legislative efforts, aerosol usage has barely changed.

The product mix has certainly evolved. The growth of powder-based antiperspirants filled in the UK continues to grow year on year, as does alcohol-based deodorants. Much of this growth can be put down to a few major brands who, through the combination of high-quality products and performance accompanied by canny advertising and marketing, find new users and new markets every year. However, much of the growth seen in UK aerosol fillings goes to export. The use of aerosols by UK consumers has only grown in relation to the increase in population over the last 20 years.

This brings us back to my question: Have we reached “peak aerosol” with Western consumers? Certainly, in my years in the industry, there haven’t been any major new products launched in aerosol dispensers. As innovative as the development of barrier pack systems were, all they really did was move consumers from shave foam to shave gel. A better consumer experience undoubtedly, but not a move to grow a significant new market.



Can we break new ground?
There have been some novel ideas, such as silicone sealants and builders’ caulk in pressurized packs. Any amateur DIYers (like me) who have struggled with a caulk gun will know how much simpler the aerosol version is to use. There have been a variety of foods put into aerosol cans across Europe. My favorite was a short-lived product that put churro batter into an aerosol can. A fabulous idea, but food in aerosols is something consumers in Europe, particularly, just don’t seem to get—unless it’s whipped cream,
of course.

Anyone who has formulated an aerosol, or played around with the enormous range of valve and actuator systems that are available, knows the scope of products that the humble aerosol can is able to dispense. As the pallet of ingredients, especially preservatives, becomes smaller, one has to wonder if there is a bigger market for a dispensing system that keeps the product hermetically sealed throughout its life, even while the consumer is using it. I’m sure we all have seen the growth in ranges of airless pumps over recent years. Shouldn’t these products be being filled into an off-the-shelf, already available, airless dispenser with a proven capability?

Here’s the challenge for the aerosol industry: We have a trusted, proven, versatile, recyclable package. How do we find new markets, new designs and new styles to take the aerosol dispenser beyond its current markets and break new ground? SPRAY