The Aerosol Opportunity

By Larry Levin

Every good marketer knows that packaging is one of the key ingredients of a successful product. It’s at the point of consideration, when a consumer is staring at two similar products in the store and trying to make a decision between them, that packaging can help make or break the sale.


Aerosols are one packaging option that have slowly but surely been increasing in popularity. Used for more than fifty years now, aerosols offer several product benefits, such as a pre-measured flow and an airtight on/off valve so that the product stays fresh, and they are tamper resistant.

The market

These are probably just a few reasons why aerosol product sales and the number of aerosol units have been increasing. Aerosol sales have grown 1.1% over the past year to $3.3 billion1, representing a quarter of all category sales, while the average number of aerosol units per store has grown from 220 to 258 over the past five years (a 12% increase).2

The power of aerosols becomes much more obvious when they are in a consumer’s basket. When aerosol categories are purchased, basket value is nearly twice as high ($74.60)3 as when they are not purchased ($38.23)4. This is even more pronounced when looking at food categories with an aerosol presence (basket value is $88.20 versus $40.30)5. This is something manufacturers should pay attention to when working with retailers to manage promotions and drive trips as well as innovation teams as they strive to offer consumers more efficient alternatives in their busy lives.

While consumers have moved away from certain types of aerosols (spray deodorants, air fresheners and furniture polish, in particular), food products have significantly ramped up their use of aerosols as a delivery agent, driving nearly a quarter of total aerosol sales.

The search for value

The increase in aerosol products and sales has been happening at the same time our mindsets around shopping have been changing. Over the last six years, most of us have become more value conscious, no matter what our household income level. Even high-income consumers are focused on value, according to IRI research.

With this seemingly unending search for value, consumers are shifting shopping channels more than ever (see our recent report on Channel Migration). In some cases, they’re moving away from grocery stores to more affordable channels like club, dollar, Walmart and mass merchandisers.

So, the idea of value is something manufacturers can and should be using to drive their innovation agenda.

Recommendations for growth

In addition to leveraging the growth of value channels like dollar (which grew 2.1% year-on-year6), manufacturers should consider the aerosol category overall. Do they already have products that could be innovated to work in aerosol form? Is there an opportunity to get onto the aerosol growth curve?

If a manufacturer already has aerosols, could they re-engineer the can to include a pre-measured metered spray of food or a cleaning product? This could be one useful way to extend the idea of value to consumers.

Non-food manufacturers should think about whether similar aerosol innovation opportunities exist for products like air care and sun care products, where recent product development has found success in other forms.

The 3% year-on-year growth of food aerosols7, despite the flatness of the food category, could be a viable point of entry for food brands considering new forms of their product. The impact of adding a trip or two to the aerosol food categories could be huge for both manufacturers and retailers.

What do you think? Write to me at

1 IRI Infoscan; Total US MULO & Convenience, 2014 L52 Wks ending November 2, 2014
2 ibid
3 ibid
4 ibid
5 ibid
6 IRI Worldwide, “Channel Migration: The Road to Growth Has Many Lanes”, October 20, 2014
7 IRI Infoscan; Total US MULO & Convenience, 2014 L52 Wks ending November 2, 2014

How can we help you supercharge growth and profitability?


95% of CPG, retail, and health and beauty companies in the Fortune 100 work with us

Answer the question below:
= three - six