How A Small Cap Could Change the Future of Packaging
By: Theresa Christine
All eyes are on the man holding the water bottle in the front of the audience. His arms stretch above his head to ensure nobody in the auditorium misses what’s going to happen in the next two seconds. Gripping the top, the action itself looks like nothing special—it’s simply twisting a cap to open a drink. But it sounds and looks extraordinary, as a quick, airy puff of sound fills the room and the clear water turns a rich garnet hue. In an instant, murmurs of ooh’s and ah’s spreads throughout the crowd.
Vessl looks and feels a little bit like magic, but the way it works is simple: the small cap is filled with some kind of ingredient like a liquid, gas or powder, and then pressurized with nitrogen. From beverages to wine decanting, to beauty and medical supplies, Vessl activates right in front of the consumer the second they open it.
“We were sort of worried it was going to be gimmicky,” explained Walter D. Apodaca Jr., Founder, Chairman & CEO of Gizmo Beverages, Inc., for Vessl Technology. “In fact, we downplayed that ‘wow’ factor and didn’t make it the main focus. But we were wrong—people love it.”
He presented Vessl at the Food & Beverage Innovation Forum 2018 in Shanghai (FBIF 2018), and it mesmerized the audience. It’s not merely something to try to capture people’s attention; instead, it makes opening a product which uses this technology an experience rather than simply an act.
“It’s kind of like when you open a soda, and you hear the can crack open and the beverage fizzle,” Walter explained. “It’s a real thing which people think about, again and again, and it’s an important element to people remembering a product.”
Pavlovian response aside, opening something with a Vessl cap is oddly satisfying, from the fizzy sound to witnessing the product activate then and there. “It’s something people like to open on social media and share with their friends,” added Walter. “It’s an element we really didn’t think about upfront, and we learned about it by having a product on the market.”
The product in question is Tea of a Kind, a healthy, all-natural tea that consumers make themselves with a twist of the cap. Just like the beverage Walter demonstrated at FBIF, the tea is basically brewed immediately before consumption.
“We didn’t want to explain the theory of Vessl,” he said. “We just wanted to show it.
“I come from a beverage background, and I know all the questions people think of with a new innovation like this: what happens if it freezes, how high can you stack it, what about material compatibility, or how does it get disinfected. There are hundreds more of those questions. And if we had to answer all these questions in the process of selling, it would have been more theory than practical application.”
Ready-to-drink tea was the biggest beverage on the market, so the team decided to start there. The Vessl cap turned a popular drink into a shareable type of product—something people would open on social media or return to a store to buy some extra bottles for their friends.
There’s also the freshness factor brands achieve with the technology. For example, Tea of a Kind is freshly brewed the moment consumers open it, ensuring the vitamins won’t lose their potency while sitting around on the shelf.
“We’re always pleasantly surprised by the solutions our clients use the caps with,” Walter commented. “We worked with a skincare line, Artistry Signature Select, to improve their anti-aging serum. It’s full of antioxidants and Vitamin C, so it degrades rapidly when exposed to oxygen. They weren’t able to get more than a 90-day shelf life, but with Vessl they can get three years.”
Another company they’re working with provides industrial chemicals for surgical environments. “They have a disinfectant which has a short shelf life once the two ingredients are mixed together," Walter said. "This allows them to mix the products easily, get a longer shelf life, and the concentrate takes up less space.”
This is perhaps Vessl’s strongest point of all: the sustainability it can offer brands and businesses. It requires less space for storing, and since it’s a concentrate, it greatly reduces the size and weight of a product in transit.
“A typical truck or container can carry about 47,000 bottles, but we can ship 725,000 Vessl closures in a single one,” explained Walter. This difference is even more drastic with larger bottles of a product, such as a gallon bottle of weed killer or herbicide. With this technology, only the cap filled with the active ingredient needs to be sent, as opposed to the entire pre-mixed product.
“A lot of products, including Tea of a Kind, are providing dishwasher-safe reusable containers, so it’s saving a lot of bottles,” mentioned Walter. “It can be refilled hundreds of times more by the consumer, and they still get the product by buying the caps.”
Vessl has a lot going for it: sustainability, immediate gratification and convenience. Any of those elements on their own are notable enough, but when they come together, it makes this kind of technology the kind of thing that is sure to wow a crowd and consumers.
“In an industry where things are too heavy, too prohibitive, or they have short shelf lives,” Walter added, “this is something that disrupts the consumer and the packaging.”
Theresa entered the world of design through The Dieline. With a background in writing and journalism, she has a passion for discovery and cultivating human connections. Her work for The Dieline is a constant journey to deeply understand all facets of the design process and to investigate what makes designers tick. Theresa's writing has taken her snorkeling in between the tectonic plates in Iceland, horseback riding through a rural Brazilian town, and riding an octopus art car at Burning Man with Susan Sarandon as part of a funeral procession for Timothy Leary (long story). When not writing, she is planning her next trip or taking too many pictures of her cat.