The Power of Packaging

November 7, 2005

As the fragrance market expands and changes with scented bath lines and skin care gets more sophisticated, suppliers must respond with the perfect package.

The Power of Packaging

As the fragrance market expands and changes with scented bath lines and skin care gets more sophisticated, suppliers must respond with the perfect package.

Fragrance isn't what it used to be. It's become an integral part of the rapidly expanding bath and body and aromatherapy categories. To keep up with these changes packaging manufacturers are offering new lines. One marketer leading the charge is Coty, which has been aggressively launching new fragrance formats. "Marketers are getting away from traditional fragrance and going into much broader marketing and SKUs," said Norbert Gaelen, chairman of O.Berk, adding, "There are a lot of line extensions into bath packages." Recently, most of these new bath lines include candles. "We have seen marked growth in candle containers, including tins, aluminum and glass," noted Mr. Gaelen.

"There has been enormous growth in the candle business," agreed Gino Ferrara of Lawson Mardon Wheaton. In fact, his company's candle packaging business has quadrupled, he said. But this growth in fragranced personal care may be draining traditional fragrance packaging. Mr. Ferrara said traditional fragrance packaging sales have been slow in 1998. "Most companies are concentrating their efforts on bath lines," he explained.

Fragrance marketers are also realizing that more women have switched from a signature scent to a "wardrobe" of fragrances and they want to buy smaller sizes. Jeff Schneider of Worldwide Packaging said metal atomizers that look like lipstick cases and other small fragrance bottles are among the suppliers' most requested items.

"Fragrance marketers are looking for smaller sizes. They want to buy more bottles, but smaller," agreed Tom Richert of New High Glass. He added that many fragrance marketers are also investing in travel sizes and purse sizes.

With small sizes all the rage, it's the perfect time for Valois' new mini pump, which the company claims to be the smallest pump on the market. The pump has been a boon for fragrance package designers, said Mr. Matarese. Years ago, a pump was merely functional, he explained. But designers like the mini pump because it allows for more creativity with a bottle's overall aesthetics.

Delivering the Goods
A package must attract the consumer, but its components must also deliver the product properly. "There is a strong thrust in the treatment market," said Mr. Matarese. For example, he said, Estée Lauder has been a leader in branding through packaging. Earlier this year the cosmetics giant launched Diminish, packaged in a custom-designed bottle and pump. "We'll see more of that from companies trying to keep ahead. They can say 'We have this packaging innovation in addition to the formula.' It will separate them from the rest."

For product formulas that need extra protection, Valois offers airless packaging in partnership with Exal. Together they offer a pouch barrier system in aluminum cans. As it's actuated, the pouch contracts, explained Mr. Matarese. There is a growing demand for such a package as more and more actives are being used in cosmeceutical-type skin care, he said. And more marketers are choosing aluminum for their treatment products, said Mr. Matarese. Aluminum can give a lot of different feelings, he explained. "It's more modern than tin plate, it doesn't have seams and it can be decorated."

"Formulas can affect our business," emphasized Alex Piagnarelli of SeaquistPerfect Dispensing. "We've had to modify pumps to work with thicker, water-based formulas." Many marketers are replacing alcohol with water in their formulations, he said. Water-based formulas are much thicker than alcohol-based ones and this affects atomizing. The supplier has also designed specialty pumps for SPF formulations. SeaquistPerfect Dispensing's SPF-specific pumps don't swell or shrink, emphasized Mr. Piagnarelli. In aerosols, there is a trend toward integrated sprays, he observed. With this dispenser, consumers don't have to remove an overcap or worry about losing a cap. "While traditionally in air fresheners and furniture polish, now we see them in hair spray," he said.

The Soft Touch
All of the packaging suppliers that spoke with happi emphasized that there is strong demand for soft touch texture on packaging. Said Mr. Ferrara of Lawson Mardon Wheaton, "There are a lot of new requests for soft, velvety touch packaging." He described the texture, which has been incorporated onto such products as Clairol's Daily Defense line, as similar to the feel of baby powder.

Mr. Schneider of Worldwide Packaging said many clients are requesting a soft touch texture for lipstick, mascara and compact packaging. Demand has also increased for wide makeup sticks, said Mr. Schneider. The package looks like an oversized lipstick, but marketers are filling the package with blush sticks or all-in-one color cosmetics for the face.

"Packaging is more transparent with smooth, round shapes and a smooth touch," said Tom Richert of New High Glass, adding, "The trend has been toward more natural shapes- designs that remind you of natural objects such as leaves or drops of water. Mr. Richert also noted that many marketers are turning to color lacquering, instead of using amber bottles, to protect their light-sensitive products. They are also requesting the process simply to add color options to their product lines, he said. New High Glass also recently developed a new process called sublimation, which can print an image completely around a glass container. Although an expensive process, Mr. Richert anticipates strong interest because of the unlimited, decorative possibilities.

Try It, You'll Like It
Many marketers rely on sampling to get their products into consumers' hands. But the sample also has to get the consumer to buy the full-sized retail product. Howard Thau, president of Sonic Packaging, maintains that liquid blisters can be the perfect vehicle. Liquid blisters can duplicate the appearance of a bottle or tube's shape and decoration and look exactly like the original product for easy recognition. These samples can be incorporated into a foldover card offering a large billboard for graphics and a coupon. Or, a marketer can introduce two products on one card. Mr. Thau added that cost-conscious marketers are also looking for ways to sell unit-dose samplers, instead of just giving them away. Liquid blisters are more expensive but have more perceived value, he explained. Sampling is hot, and it's not just for large companies, said Mr. Thau. "Smaller and mid-size marketers are more aggressive with sampling today than they have been in the past. They don't have huge advertising budgets, but they understand how important it is for the customer to try their product."

"The sampling market is very strong," said Paul Morris of Flexpaq. And he expects growth in one particular new category. Last month Flexpaq patented its mascara sampler, which took five years to develop. What makes this technology so unique is that it can be used with any marketer's brush applicator. "The brush makes the difference in mascara," said Mr. Morris, noting that cosmetics marketers often differentiate their mascara brands through specially-designed brushes. "We've created a technology that could use any company's brush," he said. But the technology isn't limited to mascara, and can be used with other cosmetics, according to Mr. Morris.

While samples are given away in weekend newspapers, magazine inserts and direct mailing, some marketers are selling their samples too. This tactic makes sample packaging all the more important-it must motivate the consumer to buy what is normally free. Thermal form blister plastic trays with aluminum lidding, which are now being used for skin care, liquid makeup and lipsticks, is one form that could be sold at retail, said Mr. Morris of Flexpaq. Molded out of clear plastic, the container enables consumers to see a product's color. The packaging is more expensive, he maintains, but it's good enough to sell.

While consumers are bombarded with a dizzying array of skin-improving product formula claims and more scented lotions and candles in every store, packaging is one key way to stand out from the crowd. "Packaging is becoming more important to distinguish brands," observed Mr. Matarese. "Marketers are coming back to packaging to create customer loyalty."

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