Features

Powerful New Packaging

November 11, 2005

How can marketers breathe new life into a slumping market? The secret may be in the packaging, industry experts say.

In the cosmetics and personal care market, the pressure is on to churn out products that are novel enough to garner attention, yet inexpensive enough to warrant repeat purchases.

In a competitive category, marketers usually concentrate on the products themselves to catch the consumer's eye.

According to packaging industry experts, however, personal care marketers may be looking in the wrong place. The secret may be in the packaging.

Packaging can revive an old product or even create ideas for a new one. Looking at packaging materials in a fresh new way has opened up new doors for the household, cosmetic and personal care industry.

For example, executives at Pompano, FL-based Airspray International knew they had something novel in the Instant Foamer when the dispenser was introduced, but its usage has reached even more categories than expected, according to Robert Brands, president, Airspray International.

"Instant foamers entered the hair care market four or five years ago," Mr. Brands ex-plained. "Later they merged into the skin care market." The next logical extension was the hand soap category, Mr. Brands said, adding, "There is no doubt in our minds that we will see a real evolution from liquid to instant-foaming hand soaps in the near future."

Techpack America's Salt 'n Pepper shakers offer controlled and protected micro-encapsulated powder release.

Dial and J&J were the first marketers to take advantage of the easy-to-use, convenient table top foamers. Now J&J has extended the idea to an antiseptic foam. "J&J is a huge brand, and now it's opened up a whole new application area," Mr. Brands said. "The foam is applied to cuts and scrapes to disinfect them. It's an improvement for the consumer in what they use and how they use it."

According to Mr. Brands, instant foamers have potential applications in a wide range of household and personal care products. These include baby shampoos, styling mousses, anti-bacterial soaps, waterless soaps, sunless tanners, pharmaceutical applications, scalp treatments and even lice treatments.

"People love the pump idea," Mr. Brands said, "because it's convenient, and there's less mess and less waste when dispensing products from an instant foamer."

The company isn't about to stop there. Next on the agenda for Airspray is a water-resistant pump. "We're working toward introductions by the end of the year which will address all potential water-environment needs, such as body washes and shampoos," Mr. Brands revealed.

The applications are new, but Mr. Brands expressed confidence in his company's new launches. "Liquid hand soaps were introduced in 1988, and they took a while to catch on," he said. "By contrast, foaming hand soaps were introduced into retail last February, and already we're finding that consumers who buy these products come back and buy them over and over again. It's the best news we could have had."

The company also plans to enter the sunless tanner and bronzer categories. Other new developments include Simeo, a dual-chamber technology that allows contents to remain separate until they are dispensed.

J&J's Band-Aid One-Step Cleansing + Infection Protection foam utilizes Airspray International's instant foamer.

Functionality and Fun
New packages and dispensing systems are much sought after in the cosmetics category as well. According to industry experts contacted by Happi, consumers never tire of new ways to use existing products.

Cosmetech Mably International (CMI), a subsidiary of Techpack Amer-ica, is concentrating on simplicity with its click-pen, which releases product with a simple click of a button located on the body of the pen. The pen is suitable for lip glosses, eye shadows and glitter products, CMI executives said.
"Extensive offerings of various packaging solutions, from teen to upscale, is a must to drive sales to customers," said Jean-Paul Imbert, president and chief executive officer, CMI.

CMI has also introduced a powder dispensing brush which serves as "a brush and talc shaker in one," according to Jackie Paterno, director of operations, CMI. The powder is held in the base of the container and is dispensed through the brush hairs. The hairs can range from natural goat to blue squirrel to synthetic. The powder dispensing brush is ideal for blush, bronzers, face powders, glitter and body powders.

The company also offers the cracked finish technology, a customized spray process that creates a unique and bold "cracked" effect. "This new innovation changes the overall package look, offering one-of-a-kind scenic packages," Ms. Paterno said.

Steve Nussbaum, director of marketing, O. Berk Company, Union, NJ, commented that it's not only new packages that pique interest, but new uses for existing ones. He predicted that this trend will continue.

"There's a trend toward using containers from different market segments in the personal care industry," he pointed out. "For example, a marketer might use a food jar to put bath salts in, or use a pharmaceutical type bottle to put an aromatherapeutic product in."

That's good news for packaging companies that offer stock ranges, Mr. Nussbaum said. "Right now, we're seeing quite a few marketers who are looking for stock bottles from different market segments. This allows for line extensions and expansions, such as adding candles to a bath line."

Although the company continues to turn out new and unique possibilities, O. Berk also offers a wide variety of stock lines in order to accommodate full product ranges. This year the company introduced the 50ml Black Metric Round bottle. The bottle can be used for applications such as lotions, creams, shampoos, cosmeceuticals, hair care and home amenity markets.

O. Berk executives said that numerous closures, including in-stock black and white disc-top caps, along with various fragrance and lotion pumps, are available to make one's product unique. The bottle can also be enhanced with optional silk screen decorating and labeling.

Techpack has also designed a variety of stock packaging, including Altitude, a 200ml jar with a large decoration area and a double-wall for unique transparency effects, and the O'Round bottle line, which can be covered with a thermoplastic elastomer for a soft, warm feel. For a blend of fun and convenience, Techpack introduced Salt 'n Pepper, a solution for micro-encapsulated powder formulations. "Salt 'n Pepper's selective filter ensures perfect application of loose powder and talc," said Tom Faath, president, Techpack America sales.

Techpack also introduced the airtight Push-Up stick, which offers protection for volatile or air-oxidation sensitive formulas. The Push-Up stick can be used for such applications as skin care, makeup, foundation, concealers, sunscreens and aromatherapy. The 3.5ml stick can be used for travel-size kits, promotional samplers or teen products.

Finishing Touch
Sometimes a marketer needs that extra something to pull products together into a cohesive line. That extra something can be in the final decoration: labeling or adding pigments to the outside of the product's container.

Judy Day, founder of DreamTime Inc., went all the way to Japan for inspiration for her Body Comforts line, which includes everything from soaps to lotions to sleep masks, migraine wraps and sinus pillows. Ms. Day's challenge was to redesign and repackage her product lines to complement each other as a family of products.

The common link was a finely-detailed designed band. Ms. Day needed to select a special effect pigment that would best tie the product line together. She chose Bi-Flair, a highly reflective bismuth oxychloride crystal from EM Industries, Savannah, GA.

Bi-Flair created shiny, rich color and a luster that mirrored the fine Asian textiles in DreamTime's fabrics. Bi-Flair 66A was used in an overprint varnish process over brick red, gray green, blue and mustard for DreamTime's pillow line.

Eastar copolyester AN004 resin houses the Eleganzza extended-wear lipstick.

Pearlescent Bi-Flair 83 was used in combination with another of EM Industries' products, Afflair 201 pearl pigment, to print the label flexography, enabling the best shelf exposure possible, according to company executives.

The result was a "changing" effect: depending on the angle of observation, the pearl reflects a subtle gold or silver pearl, or changes to a light blue/gray pearl shade.

"DreamTime's packaging is now a reflection of the product that is found inside the package," a company spokesperson commented. "It's classy, beautiful and appealing to the eye of the consumer."

On a Practical Note
Esthetics are one critical aspect of packaging; practical advantages are another. The materials used can provide protection from degradation due to light and heat exposure.

Cosmetic Packaging Company recently added the Footed Round nail polish bottle to its stock item offerings.

Executives at Eastman Chemical Company, Kingsport, TN, said the company's Easter copolyester AN004 resin helped Spatz Labs, Oxnard, CA, preserve the shelf life of Zermat's Eleganzza extended-wear lipstick. Using copolyester AN004, Spatz Labs and Mexico-based cosmetics company Zermat created a crystal-clear container that exhibited protective properties for Zermat's Eleganzza lipstick. The package preserves the lipstick's properties while providing an optically clear cap through which consumers can view the color.

"We were using polypropylene for our opaque and semitransparent containers. However, the volatility of the extended-wear formulations required stronger barrier properties," said Jim Flanagan, director of quality assurance, Spatz Labs. The company then looked at TPX, a polypropylene derivative, but it lacked both strong barrier properties and the required clarity.

Spatz Labs eventually selected copolyester AN004 from Eastman to do the job. The copolyester is said to be an excellent barrier against loss due to heat, light and air, and vacuum testing indicated that AN004 exhibited a hermetic seal.

Scott Rook, cosmetic market manager, Eastman, said, "Eastar copolyester AN004 is one of our fastest-growing materials because of its clarity, chemical resistance and processing benefits. It's easy to process and dries faster than other copolyesters."

Some industry experts maintain that today's plastics, with better resistance to volatile materials and ease of handling during manufacturing, are replacing glass. Mr. Rook commented, "Plastics use in the cosmetics area continues to grow. The World Cosmetics and Toile-tries Packaging 2000 2005 report indicates that by the year 2005, the estimated number of packaging will have grown to 73 billion units." This represents a 4% growth rate for plastic, up from 56 billion units in 1998, company executives said.

Plastics offer a variety of benefits, but there is still a place for glass in the packaging industry. Mr. Nussbaum of O. Berk said, "Consumers' needs vary, and a variety of packaging options should be available to marketers. Cosmetic and personal care products are both necessities and luxuries, depending primarily upon income level. For example, a fragrance might be a luxury to one person, but can be considered a necessity to another."

Besides the luxury vs. necessity factor, some cosmetic and personal care items are traditionally housed in glass. Nail polishes and certain fragrances fall into that category.

The Cosmetic Packaging Company, a division of O. Berk Company, Union, NJ, recently introduced 0.5-oz. flint Footed Round nail polish bottles with a 15-414 finish. The bottles are available with lacquer brushes and plastic caps.

DieterBakicEnterprises' stock bottles and tottles can be mixed-and-matched with different closures.
The Footed Round nail polish bottles can be enhanced with optional frosting or other decorating options, Cosmetic Packaging Company executives said.

Cosmetic Packaging also introduced a 10ml flint glass smooth roll-on bottle with a 15-415 finish. The bottles are available with plastic ball fitments and white plastic caps and can be used in aromatherapy, cosmeceutical, cosmetic and personal care applications.

Mr. Nussbaum of O. Berk said, "Naturally, packaging must convey what the product is expected to do. But today, a major key in packaging is to communicate to the consumer that you're not only meeting, but exceeding, this need. When you can bring together consumer expectations, quality and economy, you've got a combination that works."

Topping it All Off
Closures may seem simple to the consumer, but packaging professionals know that the right closure lends the finishing touch to the total look of the product.

DieterBakic Enterprises added 50- and 200ml tottles to its Dominique line; the selection is complemented with a stock collection of interchangeable caps. The caps allow manufacturers to produce a customized look.

DieterBakic offers nine caps in its treatment range, each with a standard 22/410 thread. The caps fit six bottle and two tottle designs. Altogether, this adds up to 72 possible combinations for a finished look.

O. Berk and its family of affiliated companies offer disc-, poly- and snap-tops in a wide range of styles, colors and finishes, company executives said. According to the company, selecting the right closure is important to the success of a package's overall image.

Zeller Plastik Europe, the plastic closures division of Crown Cork & Seal, introduced new closures for health, beauty and personal care. The snap-on, flip-top and trigger closures offer easy-open convenience and integrate with existing capping equipment, company executives said. The uniquely molded round edges are easy to grip and increase visual presence at point-of-purchase. Lisap, based in Italy, redesigned its line of personal care products using Zellers' closures.

Mac Closures Inc., Quebec, Canada, has several new closures as well. The company offers a tear-away flip top in a 38-400 size; 38-400 child resistant/elderly friendly closures; a dishwasher flip-top; a child-resistant flip-top and a 63-445 industrial cap.

"What customers look for in packaging depends on the industry," said Stephanie Roux, marketing, MAC Closures. "In personal care, packaging is more driven by the look, but in pharmaceutical applications, technical features are important."

Cameo Metal Products, Brooklyn, NY, offers a line of cylindrical fit closures to enhance the eye appeal of a product line. With the addition of a double-wall insert, Cameo is able to make an oversize cap fit a smaller diameter neck size. The cylindrical fit product line is available for jar covers, tube caps, lotion closures and fragrances.

But Wait...There's More
Packaging experts contacted by Happi agreed that although packaging has made great strides toward innovation, there's more to come in the future. One potential stumbling block to this progress is the fact that consumers simply aren't buying as much-or as often-as they used to. But executives said that when it comes to the economy affecting consumer purchasing habits, things are looking up.

Randi Barron, vice president of Madeline Blondman & Co., Great Neck, NY, said, "We feel there will be a slow recovery. Health and beauty has always been a resilient industry, even during difficult times."

Some executives warned that times would continue to be tough for a while, but that this problem is not insurmountable. "During the past few months, we have been experiencing a very unsure economy. Our customers are looking for packaging that they feel offers a good price value along with an attractive look to the package," said Jenifer Brady, Brad-Pak Enterprises, Garwood, NJ. "They want to maximize their buying dollars so they can give their customers a great product at a great value."

But perhaps the best ace in the packaging industry's sleeve is its ability to not only accommodate, but innovate, the household, cosmetic and personal care industries.

"I think a lot of marketers have had more opportunities purely because of the power of packaging," Mr. Brands of Airspray International said. "For example, in the past, there was no such thing as an instant-foaming cleanser in the skin care market; now it's possible, and not just for skin care. Packages give marketers ideas for new products. That's one of the greatest things about the power of packaging: we are able to actually contribute to the industry."

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