Skin-deep but made to last

27 February 2017

Skin-deep but made to last

Skin-deep but made to last

Packaging has always been a key differentiator in the vast cosmetics industry, with consumers seeking innovation and novelty in the products they purchase. The future of packaging in this sector looks set to offer even more innovation, reports Dave Howell.

According to research from EY, cosmetics makes up 5% of the global packaging market, which equates to a market value of $60 billion. In luxury markets, cosmetics and fragrance make up close to half of the packaging sector. The presence of cosmetics and its allied product categories is so large that it can often be used as a barometer when considering how brands use packaging to innovate and communicate their values to consumers.

Premium perspective

In its overview of how the packaging industry needs to develop, EY comments, “Packaging producers have to be able to deliver new shapes, use new materials, print more colours in greater definition and deliver short-run lengths economically. These capabilities require investment in new capital equipment and training. Packaging companies that don’t invest in the right technologies and capabilities are at a competitive disadvantage.”

For brands within the cosmetics industry, the market has become incredibly fragmented, with hundreds of small brands entering the fray. Consumers looking for innovation will often find it in these smaller, niche brands. In addition, packaging design has had to evolve; today, from luxury or premium brands to more functional cosmetic brands that are often placed within the FMCG price bracket, packaging innovation has continued apace.

Packaging has also frequently been used as a differentiator. So-called ‘masstige’ lines – products produced inexpensively yet marketed as premium – speak to a marketplace that desires high-quality brands but doesn’t possess the status to afford them.

According a report no China from Kantar Worldpanel, “The high-speed growth of the cosmetics market was mainly driven by upgraded purchasing, meaning that increasingly, consumers are willing to pay higher prices for more premium products or a wider range of products.

“Within the skincare market, masstige brands are the key contributor to this premiumisation trend. Across categories (such as facial skincare, hand care and body care) and city tiers, consumers tend to choose products with higher prices. In the make-up market, an enlarged buyer base and premiumisation are two key drivers to market growth. Data shows that only 45 urban families of every 100 purchased make-up products in 2015, demonstrating a huge market potential for make-up manufacturers in China.”

What is clear is that the cosmetics market has now divided into many sectors, each with their own core audience. From a packaging perspective, this means paying close attention to consumers, as they have a narrowly defined set of values that the packaging must speak to.

Recent advances in the substrates found in pouches, such as reduced polymers, and a focus on recyclability could point to a new channel for brands associated with the ‘natural’ end of the cosmetics market, but this has yet to be commercially proven.


Tactile branding

According to insights from Research and Markets, the Asia-Pacific region will see the largest growth of any cosmetics packaging market in the next few years, with expansion projected to reach $31 billion by 2020. The rise of Halal certified products across cosmetics is also a market that will rapidly expand; Euromonitor International found that this market alone could see an annual growth rate of 9% by 2019, and packaging must evolve in tandem. As in other regions, environmentally friendly packaging is now a major brand differentiator with consumers.

“Cosmetic businesses want to use packaging as an enhancement to their brands,” says Andrew Streeter, founder of CPS International and Pack-Track. “Being able to touch a perfume box that changes colour or has another form of interaction is highly desirable for these brands as they attempt to innovate and differentiate themselves in the marketplace. The huge emotive power this kind of packaging can have is clearly a driver for cosmetics brands.

“With legacy brands, we are detecting an evolution of packaging design. By that, I mean that brands such as Chanel have clearly improved the print quality of their packaging, and use some ink texture and chamfering on packs instead of their usual hard creases. This brings brands up to date, and re-establishes their values. The danger of not making these changes is the risk of consumers seeing them as stale and not an innovative, modern brand.”

Sheri L Koetting, co-founder and chief strategist at MSLK, comments, “Due to budget constraints and production minimums, small brands tend to struggle to find stock packaging components that they can customise to create a uniquely branded user experience. Packaging colours, shapes and forms are the most memorable and identifiable brand assets.

“It’s very challenging to create an ‘ownable’ brand experience when you are limited by budget to stock – this is why colours, shapes and symbols in brand graphics become critical.”

Colour and shape were key components of the new packaging design for skincare brand ELEMIS, in celebration of its 25th anniversary. Developed by innovative packaging supplier Hunter, the agency outlined its approach as pleasingly contradictory and luxurious: “The gift box uses striking single-colour combinations to differentiate the collections, and create presence at retail and excitement in the user experience. A section of the ELEMIS lotus flower branding is teased through an embossed and spot UV varnish.

“Hunter’s engineering expertise sourced heavy cardboard, machine-cut mitre edges and over-strength magnets to give the consumer the impression that they are handling a substantial wooden product. Opening is facilitated by way of two satin ribbon tabs, set within bespoke gold coloured metalwork bearing the embossed ELEMIS branding. Opening the box reveals a striking and contrasting internal theme. Despite the contrast in the colour palette, the box and product presentation come together in a feast of pleasing contradictions.”


Future cosmetics

The cosmetics sector is a primary focus for packaging innovation. Established brands take care to update their packaging with subtle changes that don’t dilute established brand values, while newcomers to the sector use innovative form factors to grab the attention of consumers.

“We are already seeing how digital printing can reduce production quantities and costs,” says Koetting. “This is allowing brands to produce packaging that is customised by region, such as packaging copy written entirely in French or Spanish as opposed to one package with three languages. This simple change can make a big impact for users and brands. Brands get to leverage a more authentic feeling on a local level and can have more information on the packaging; users get to read the information in their native language.

Streeter also adds, “One of the pressure points I see across cosmetics is that there is a great deal of diversification. So, what we are seeing are small runs of packaging for more bespoke products. The fragrance sector, in particular, has seen this kind of expansion with some very elaborate and highly decorated packaging to support their brand communications. In addition, the fact that runs are shortening has meant more pressure on packaging converters, who have had to adapt.”

Packaging for all cosmetics brands is a core component of their communications with consumers. As technology – especially with substrates and decoration – has continued to develop, cosmetic brands have been some of the first to take advantage of them.

In a fragmented marketplace, packaging is often a core differentiator. More tactile packaging, interactivity and innovative form factors will continue to be developed for brands looking to stand out from what continues to be a crowded market.


Packaging focus: South Korea

South Korea is a global leader in cosmetics and cosmetics packaging innovation, and Pack-Track sees these innovations filtering out to other parts of the world. The Peripera blusher cream, for example, is a simple but clever packaging concept based around a squeezable plastics tube with a dispenser head that is a soft sponge.

The blusher features strongly in the brand’s bespoke point-of-sale unit and the actual pack ticks many of today’s life style needs: it is usable ‘on the go’ because of its size, and the sheer convenience of blusher application and single-handed application; for the consumer, it’s intuitive and almost effortless to get a good result. The pack innovation is centred around the dispensing mechanism, which controls the cream flow into soft sponge yet remains hidden to the consumer.

Skinfood Eyeliner offers simplicity of a structural design delivering convenience in a way that the consumer can see as thoughtful. The eye-colour market is glamorous and this pack maintains that persona while holding the applicator pen in a recess to the base, simply covered by a quality peelable label. It can replaced there too.

The pack is small and portable yet retains in glamour value, and the jar is brilliantly clear and glossy thick-walled PET, not glass. The whole pack concept works hard at point of sale in the brand’s bespoke display unit.  It is a good example of adding much more value without adding much more cost.



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