Just over 236 million passengers passed through UK airports in 2016 alone, with a 5% year-on-year growth a conservative estimate. And with many of those passengers taking hand luggage only – with its strict liquids restrictions – it’s no wonder that the packaging industry has grabbed this opportunity with both hands.

UK airport liquid restrictions have been in place since 2006, so that’s more than ten years of passengers needing to have no more than one litre of liquids, semi-liquids, creams, sprays and pastes in separate containers of no more than 100ml. Larger containers, even if only partly full, are not allowed, and all containers must be in a single, transparent, resealable bag. We all know how strict airport security can be, so for passengers heading off on a business trip or short break, smart packing of their favourite products saves a great deal of unnecessary airport hassle, not to mention helping them to travel light.

Whereas passengers used to buy whatever products were available in travel formats to take on their flight, now, consumers expect to be able to buy their favourites or luxury versions – only smaller. That, of course, represents a terrific opportunity for brands to maintain customer loyalty and can also give potential customers a chance to try a product that they may not have bought the full size.

Travel treats: a carefully curated selection

Take global luxury skincare and lifestyle brand ELEMIS. Its carefully curated selection of traveller collections features its best-selling products in smaller formats, and is popular with regular customers as well as those wishing to add a little extra glamour to their holiday.

Joelle Pugh, head of ELEMIS’s press office, says, “We are a lifestyle brand, and our customers love to be able to take their favourites with them but without going over the 100ml limit or being weighed down with packaging. We went through a brand refresh in 2015 to coincide with our 25th anniversary and our logo went to block caps – a simple change but a strong and impactful one. Our travel sizes have the same luxury packaging as our full-size products in order to maintain our brand identity and introduce new customers to the desirability of our products.”

ELEMIS has its own dedicated travel shop as part of its website, ensuring customers can quickly find the travel size they’re looking for. Pugh adds, “ELEMIS is one of the most acclaimed brands in the global skincare industry, with our luxury travel sizes ideal for globe-trotting customers as well as for gifting. We also offer a complimentary deluxe travel-size product with all our online orders, making these travel sizes ideal for introducing loyal customers to new products, so they are a commercially astute addition to our range.”

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The ‘little luxury treat’ element of travel sizes is certainly one that has been harnessed by the Cornwall Seaweed Bath Company, a natural skincare brand that’s hand-made products perfectly suit the smaller format. Founder Hannah May said: “We have three of our products available in travel sizes; they’ve been carefully chosen to offer a complete nourishing skincare kit that’s small enough to take on your travels. Our 25g super-gentle soap is Cornish seaweed infused into olive oil with essential oils and is gentle enough to be used as a facial cleanser. Its jaunty striped packaging is ideal for beach holidays, or even if you just wished you were going on a beach holiday instead of a work trip. Our beautiful 15 and 50ml tins of Skin Soother are perfect for any dry bits, making it the ideal multitasker, and our 10ml organic facial oil, which comes in a dinky blue glass bottle, is perfect after a day in the sun.”

Nothing wasted: maximising the allowance

This multipurpose element of travel-size products is increasingly important, with families, couples and individuals all keen to maximise their liquid allowance without being that person at the security check who’s struggling to fit everything into their zip lock bag. Award-winning British toiletries brand Childs Farm sells dermatologically tested body care products that have been created for children but are loved by the whole family.

Childs Farm founder Joanna Jenson explains how its travel sizes are perfect for all sorts of family adventures: “We started off in 2010, after I couldn’t find a suitable shampoo and conditioner for my daughters’ fine hair and sensitive skin – everything was full of nasties. I was used to making potions and creams for my horses, so I made a natural shampoo with essential oils and took it to various manufacturers. I noticed that children’s toiletries fell into two camps. Either they were fantastically packaged but used the same ingredients as adult products or they were specifically for children but looked like they should be in a medicine cabinet.”

Childs Farm’s ‘inclusive range for everyone, even the one in five little ones who suffer from eczema’, is packed with multitasking products that work brilliantly and smell wonderful. Jenson continues, “We initially made 50ml versions of our lovely hair and body wash, the three-in-one Swim Hair Detangler, as samples to give away in little ziplock bags, but customers kept asking to buy more as they said they were perfect for trips to the beach, holidays and swimming – so we did. We love to get feedback from our customers.

“The look and feel of our packaging is hugely important. It provides a sense of ownership and a sensory activity for the children. It’s all about my slightly bonkers family, which is obsessed with ponies. The bottles are appealing for all the family; kids can use them by themselves but without wasting all the product and parents can be assured that there are no nasty ingredients,” she adds.

With Childs Farm now offering two travel sets – Little Essentials and the Top to Toesie Cleansing Kit – the 50ml format is proving more popular than ever. Jenson notes, “We all know that we’re allowed 100ml bottles in our hand luggage but we’ve found that 50ml is a far more suitable size for a short trip away or for swimming bags. It’s plenty for the family to share and saves waste. We’re clearly doing something right – our wall is full of thank you letters from customers. We’re growing so fast it’s wonderful; we’re already second in our category and, as we increase our distribution, we hope to be the leading independent baby and child toiletries brand by 2020.”

Something for everyone: category defining toiletries

So that covers luxury travel sizes, natural products and family-friendly travel kits – but what about teenagers who don’t want to share with their younger siblings? Sam Farmer, the category-defining youth toiletries brand with innovative, design-led packaging, meets this demand.

Founder Sam Farmer says, “Our entire range is available in 50ml travel sizes because the six SKUs cover three product categories – hair, skincare and deodorant – that people tend to use every day, even when travelling. Like the rest of our range, all our travel sizes have been manufactured by M&H and the clean, sharp design means that teenagers feel good carrying our products in those clear plastic airport liquids bags.”