The UK’s beauty market: transcending product and packaging24 January 2018
The growing UK beauty and personal-care market was worth more than £15 billion in 2017. To differentiate themselves in this glamorous and crowded sector, brands have to go beyond being aesthetically pleasing because consumers now expect the ‘whole package’. Emma-Jane Batey speaks to a range of beauty brands about how they are meeting market demands.
Beauty products across all price points are expected to be effective, but now consumers demand that they are equally appealing and efficacious. People are savvy about what they put on their skin, with ingredients, packaging and the products themselves coming under increasing scrutiny – and rightly so. No brand deserves an easy ride, particularly when it comes to the highly competitive beauty sector.
The beauty of packaging
Take Japanese skincare company Yu-Be: its reputation as an ‘only available in Japan’ brand has been a valuable element in its packaging and growing popularity globally. For many years, the company’s famous multipurpose, vitamin-enriched skin cream was a special gift purchased by travellers visiting Japan; so when a Japanese-US businessman decided to import it, he had the determination to ensure that the brand remained exclusive, keeping its iconic status alive.
Yu-Be sales and marketing director Matthew Graham says, “Yu-Be celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2017, and our famous Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream is one of Japan’s longest and bestselling skin products. In order to convey a sense of Japanese history and product quality, we have been careful to balance a very clean, vintage-apothecary type of look while keeping certain Japanese elements, like the Japanese language symbols in the logo, as well as using the original Yu-Be orange colour that can be seen throughout the product line.”
Graham then discusses how the surge in popularity for Asian beauty products has bolstered Yu-Be’s success. “The recent interest in Korean products, as well as the ongoing interest in other Asian beauty products, especially for skin and hair, gives us a great opportunity to educate shoppers about our long history in Japan, and our high-quality and effective products. We will continue to develop new, quality skincare products in Japan and bring them to market as we always have. In January 2018, we launched the Yu-Be Advanced Formula Pure Hydration Cream, which is made without any camphor extract or paraben preservatives. The packaging will be very similar to the original; however, we will be using green for the colour scheme instead of the original orange, so customers can distinguish the two different creams from each other.”
Another pioneering skincare brand, Alpha-H, uses its packaging to represent the ‘simplicity, understated elegance and sustainability’ of the product within. It provides professional products to beauty salons and skin clinics, and also has a retail offering; the company’s range includes supersized and deluxe minis.
“We need to ensure that our packaging protects our powerful active ingredients, such as glycolic acid, while also securing the potency of our most delicate ingredients, including vitamins, antioxidants, and flower and fruit acids,” explains Tom Ogden, European business manager at Alpha-H. “Our ethlylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) tubes are also UV-coated, providing excellent barrier protection to oxygen and humidity to preserve the active ingredients inside. Our EVOH tubes and high-density polyethylene bottles are recyclable.”
The new Alpha-H Liquid Gold Firming Eye Cream is a great example of ‘responsible, functional luxury’, with its unique and precise application through a cool-touch metallic applicator. Ogden notes that “sustainability and packaging are major areas in the beauty sector that are undergoing change. People are supporting green and earth-friendly brands, and products that have a minimal impact on the environment; brands are, therefore, becoming more socially responsible with their formulations, manufacturing and packaging. Our packaging is clean, minimal and functional, and we are always looking for ways to reduce our footprint on planet Earth, without being over-packaged or over-hyped.”
The demand for feel-good products in the beauty sector is high across all price points, with the expectation that efficacy comes as standard. For leading UK-based colour-cosmetics manufacturer Pascalle Cosmetics, its ability to develop and manufacture a wide range of contract-fill and private-label cosmetics puts it at the apex of quality and affordability.
“We pride ourselves on having 30 years’ plus experience in cosmetic design and manufacturing. We work with international retailers and independent brands, offering full project management to design, develop and create cosmetics ranges that are manufactured here at our factory in Stoke on Trent,” states Emma Dodd, business development manager. “Pascalle also owns six cosmetics brands that are available to purchase globally, including our entry price point Miss Beauty London collection to our mid and premium ranges MeMeMe and Kubiss,” she adds.
The MeMeMe brand offers high -end premium formulations that create ‘gorgeous and distinctive cosmetics at an affordable price’. Dodd continues, “Our passion at MeMeMe lies within creating gorgeous, feminine and spirited cosmetics for our customers. We are a celebration of individualism, believing that the best in beauty and design should be affordable, and adored in every girl’s handbag. Mixing the themes of mythology, romance and the bohemian spirit, MeMeMe is a brand that prides itself on the quality of its formulations and unique approach.”
Packaging plays an important role in establishing its identity. “MeMeMe features black and cream-themed high-end componentry, and the MeMeMe signature pattern and cherub feature heavily on the packaging as well. Many items in the range are presented in cardboard packaging to create a unique look and feel,” affirms Dodd. She then concentrates on trends and how the beauty brand is meeting them, saying, “We are seeing trends across cardboard palettes, and are developing contour and highlight palettes in card palettes that feature spot UV to respond to the trend, which complements our existing card lipstick case, eye palettes and blush boxes.”
There is one fresh beauty brand that is breaking the mould: Beauty Pie was founded by well-known business pioneer Marcia Kilgore – who is deemed as “beauty royalty” by the Guardian’s Sali Hughes – and is rapidly gaining evangelical fans due to its innovative buyers’ club. The premise is clear, says a Beauty Pie spokesperson who adds, “At Beauty Pie, our mission is to bring our members the world’s best beauty products at a totally transparent factory cost. No mumbo-jumbo. No middlemen. No mark-ups.”
That complete transparency is clearly represented on Beauty Pie’s website: a £20 lipstick costs just £2.24 to members, with £1.61 of that accounting for the product and packaging. Its dynamic black and white packaging retains the distinctive look that makes luxury beauty brands so appealing, while making the company luxurious and affordable.
“We’re a team of beauty-product obsessives who have worked in the beauty industry for aeons. We’re working to make our packaging as ecologically conscious as possible. Too much cosmetic packaging ends up in a landfill, and the more complex the componentry, the less easily it can be broken down for recycling. We don’t use over-the-top fancy caps, metal cladding or rigid plastic jars, and we’ve chosen plant-based inks and recyclable board for our cartons,” explains the spokesperson.
Innovations in beauty packaging show that it pays to think outside the box. Consumers are increasingly demanding that what they put on their face is kind to the world around them; from the ingredients used to how packaging tells the brand’s story, skincare and beauty products must go way beyond just being effective.