Simple, beautiful, and sustainable, the new MyKirei by Kao personal care line is the embodiment of the Japanese company’s Kirei, or “beautiful,” Lifestyle Plan and the commitments it has set forth in the ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) plan to make everyday life more beautiful, make thoughtful choices for society, and make the world cleaner. That’s according to MyKirei Director of Marketing Marissa Vallillo, who adds, “MyKirei by Kao is built on the philosophy that caring for self, society, and the world makes life more beautiful. It includes plant-based, biodegradable, vegan-friendly personal care products in a revolutionary eco-friendly package.”
That package is the AIR Bottle, a flexible, yet rigid, “bottle” that comprises an inner flexible pouch surrounded by a transparent, air-filled outer flexible film pouch with an air tube that allows the bottle to stand upright. The inner pouch is Kao’s Raku-raku Eco Pack Refill, which was developed by Kao in 2018 to allow for easier refills (in conjunction with its Smart Holder) and to evacuate all product from the pouch through the use of a pump dispenser. In the AIR Bottle, the inner pouch is separated from the outer pouch so that as product is dispensed, the inner pouch collapses inward, dispensing up to three times more product than more traditional packaging.
The first practical use of Kao’s in-house-engineered Air in Film Bottle technology, the 10.1-oz MyKirei by Kao package is made from a proprietary combination of materials from Fuji Seal that were selected for their various properties, such as water and gas barrier, and puncture resistance.
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According to Ken Adams, Director of Packaging Development at Kao, the functional requirements for the package were solely based on sustainability and on Kao’s commitment to reducing its reliance on plastic. “Many brands on the market now offer recyclable packaging, but how many consumers actually go through the trouble to recycle it? Not many,” he says. “Ninety-one percent of plastic is not being recycled, and 80 percent of what is sitting in landfills should have been recycled, but it wasn’t. The AIR Bottle does the work for the consumer so they can feel confident that they are respecting the world as soon as they bring it into their home.”
By replacing the rigid plastic traditionally used in a pump bottle, Kao says that it is reducing the use of plastic by 50%. In addition, the bottle is advertised on-pack as being “100% Recyclable,” with an asterisk guiding consumers to the TerraCycle website. Explains Vallillo, “Consumers can download a prepaid shipping label from TerraCycle [linked through the Kao website] and ship used packaging to them. TerraCycle upcycles the materials and makes sure nothing goes to waste. In Japan, we heave a similar program with TerraCycle where they upcycle similar materials and turn them into children’s building blocks.”
Focus on simplicity extends to product
In the U.S., Kao is most well-known for brands such as Ban, Bioré, Curél, Jergens, and John Frieda, among others—all of which were acquired by Kao or brought to the U.S. from Japan. Given that the focal point of the new brand is Kao’s ESG strategy of Kirei and its “revolutionary” new Air in Film bottle technology, Kao chose to launch the products as a new brand under its own name, rather than part of a brand extension.
“By launching MyKirei by Kao, an ESG-specific brand, we now have a place to house some of these breakthrough innovations like the AIR bottle,” says Vallillo. “We also plan to integrate many of the ESG technologies into the other brands.”
The MyKirei by Kao line debuted in April, with the first phase offering three products: Nourishing Shampoo, Conditioner, and Hand Wash. With a focus on simplicity of choice, each formula is said to deliver the desired benefits across all hair and skin types. “The MyKirei lineup is not extensive,” says Vallillo, “it offers you great-performance formulas without compromise. You don’t need to have 10 shampoos or conditioners in the shower. You only need MyKirei. We are providing you with technology and efficacy so you too can reduce excess product and packaging waste in your home.”
The formulas also reflect the Kirei sensibility of simplicity, as well as other aspects such as beauty, cleanliness, balance, and sustainability. They are vegan-friendly, plant-based, and up to 95% biodegradable. They also include balanced blends of traditional, authentic Japanese ingredients, like yuzu fruit, rice water, and Japanese Tsubaki flower.
The package design supports these messages, with the inner pouch direct-printed with a gradient of soft pink along with a stylized flower image that changes depending on the variety. The pump is white.
The products were introduced only in the U.S and only on Amazon, but Vallillo says Kao plans to expand into other retail channels in the future. The next launch in the MyKirei line is (at presstime) scheduled for July. According to Kao, it will be all about instilling a culture of cleanliness into the next generation, with a specific focus on hand-washing education.
“This is an incredibly relevant topic right now for obvious reasons, but Kao has been doing this with classes in schools for children for years. We are excited to bring this campaign to the USA through MyKirei by Kao,” shares Vallillo. “Every launch will have a new way to help the consumer live more Kirei, while telling a different story each time. What you see is just the start, and we plan to extend into other lifestyle categories and household categories that fit the MyKirei proposition.”