Take Notice

By Melissa Meisel , Associate Editor | June 1, 2016

Packaging trends revolve around trendy artwork, eco-conscious materials—and portability is a plus too!

François Nars had a vision. With a love for the South of France, the prestige makeup marketer wanted his Summer 2016 color cosmetics packages to create a fun, travel-inspired story set along the Côte d’Azur. So he approached fashion illustrator Konstantin Kakanias and commissioned him to create custom illustrations for the seasonal collection along with design firm Baron & Baron to craft the package itself.

After seeing the various artistic options Kakanias created for the range—and loving all of them—Nars chose to utilize a unique illustration for each item in the collection, instead of just one image for the entire range. The Summer 2016 selections are also limited edition, making it highly covetable.

This program is not a collaboration like past color ranges (think Nars Christopher Kane or Phillip Lim for Nars), but rather “a partnership with an illustrator on the visual elements of the collection,” he said.

Nars’ story is an example of how marketers aim to take product packaging to the next level. No longer just a functional component, companies are amping up exteriors on their bottles and boxes.

“Trends in packaging are going to continue to highlight the importance of visibility,” observed Jennifer Stansbury, co-founder and managing partner, The Benchmarking Company. “Beauty consumers don’t want to struggle to find your product—or to read about it once they’ve picked it off the shelf.” 

The Benchmarking Company even found that 77% of women state the most important aspect of secondary packaging is that the box is easy to see on the shelf; 83% said that the name must be easy to read.

“Let’s be honest, packaging is everything. Consumers want to be moved emotionally when they consider a brand. They want the packaging to entice them, to tell the story of what’s inside,” noted Jillian Wright, co-founder of the Indie Beauty Expo, which this year will be held August 24 & 25 in New York. “The key is to hire the right designer to create packaging who tells their story and makes a connection with the shopper.”

And, for merchandise of the household variety, Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) revealed that in 2015, among new household product launches, 24% used packaging as a primary driver of the launch. During the five-year period 2011–2015, the percentage of new household product launched that used packaging as a key launch driver grew 54%.

“Brands are increasingly recognizing the role of functional, versus purely disruptive, packaging innovations can play in creating both differentiation at the point of sale, and solutions consumers are seeking toward helping them use packaging to get through household chores more quickly, effectively and even safely,” noted David Luttenberger, global packaging director at Mintel, Chicago.

“Consumers are increasingly placing more importance on such packaging attributes as the ability to not just easily dispense household or personal care products, but to dispense 100% of those products from containers. When brands recognize the role functional packaging and associated on-pack claims and graphics can play in helping consumers recognize such functional components as 100% evacuation, consumers’ trust in those brands will grow, and that will come back into play during the repurchase consideration,” said Luttenberger.

Recent Rollouts
“Shoppers are looking for different things depending on who they are, where they are in their life stage and what the product is all about,” Marie Swisher, VP-global brand development, Mary Kay, Inc., Dallas, TX, told Happi. “The packaging qualities the consumer is attracted to sync with the mega trends impacting consumerism today.”

Packaging news in new-to-market products runs the gamut from tapping into the sporty “athleisure” trend to customization to the continuation of eco-friendliness. And let’s not forget cushion compacts that originated in Korea—as seen at Physician’s Formula this season in a new Mineral Wear Talc-Free All-in-One ABC Cushion Foundation.

“Shoppers are looking for the 3Fs:  fashion, form and functionality,” said Janice Lee, senior vice president of marketing, Physicians Formula, City of Industry, CA. “Each F plays an important role individually, and together, they are synergistic to the overall experience for the consumer.”

According to Lee, fashion or design is critical to attracting users in general and gaining trial from new users.  

“Consumers are so visual, and you have only a few seconds to catch the consumer’s eye. In the beauty realm, women have ‘purse pride’—they want to feel confident about whatever they pull out of their bag. Form or shape of a product is how a shopper can hold it in his or her hand or if it is portable to carry it around. The in-use aspect helps to make the consumer feel good about what they have bought—it creates that connection and loyalty with the consumer.”

Lee added, “Functionality is not only about holding the goods in, but it’s also about quality—the sound of the closing of the cap, the click when you twist something open; all the subtle aesthetics that become so important.”

Besides products that function to premiere levels, some brands are targeting consumers who are active in fitness and wellness activities. For example, personal care retailer Birchbox debuted its second in-house beauty brand, Arrow, this season. Inspired by the evolution of the athleisure trend, it features makeup, skin care and body products designed to enhance natural beauty during (and after) physical activity, according to the company.

“We’re experimenting with a mix of high and low materials and finishes. The exterior can feel minimal but we bring in surprise and impact with a pop of color, glossy finish, or foil that peeks out from the flap or the inside of the box,” said Fran Gaitanaros, VP-creative, Birchbox, New York, about recent brand launches. “It’s as if all the good stuff is packed inside and clothed in a totally unassuming exterior—it’s a really fun and unexpected unboxing experience!”

H&M, Hennes & Mauritz AB—famous for offering fashion-forward apparel at affordable prices—launched a beauty collection for Spring 2016 with organic and sustainably-produced products for skin, body and hair. Available in recyclable and contemporary packaging, the full collection includes a tinted lip balm, face masks, aluminum-free deodorant and more.   “We already offer conscious choices with our fashion collections so it is natural for us to have the same offering within our beauty collection. We always aim to develop our products to high and responsible standards in both materials and production. With the conscious range we have taken this philosophy even further. We are very proud to now be able to offer organic beauty to our customers,” said Sara Wallander, concept designer at H&M Beauty.

Available exclusively at Ulta, OGX Beauty has launched the new Exclusive Body Collection featuring cutting-edge, active ingredients and exotic formulas for a refreshing and indulgent beauty experience. The line is packaged in eco-friendly bottles manufactured from materials containing recycled post-consumer resin, said the company. OGX Sea Mineral Moisture, Tsubaki Blossom and Eucalyptus Mint Body Collections are out in stores now.

For those who want to give a personalized gift, startup Unique Fragrance is offering a special service. On www.uniquefragrance.com, individuals can create their own fragrance in a personalized bottle. The bottle can be labeled with a name, a personal love message or a picture. The company even created a fragrance for Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton. Co-founder and CEO Matti Niebelschutz reported 100,000 customers who have already created their own Unique fragrance online.

Meanwhile, Harry and Peter Brant, the brothers known as “The New Princes of the City,” are expanding their socialite status beyond being the children of supermodel Stephanie Seymour and Interview publisher Peter Brant. The duo teamed up with MAC Cosmetics on a unisex makeup collection—a new concept for MAC. Their signatures are on the SKUs.

Speaking of signature items, Essie is celebrating its 1,000th shade of nail lacquer—Aim to Missbehave, a shimmering citron yellow—with a gold confetti-adorned cap marked with “1,000.” The brand also used the foil-stamped caps for its 35th anniversary collection earlier in the year with starbursts on the aptly named Retro Revival range.

“The packaging aesthetics is the first thing that draws a consumer to select a product on the shelf and what often differentiates products,” said Daniela Ciocan, director of marketing, Cosmoprof North America, Las Vegas, NV. “That said, most look for a clean design with compelling messaging and visuals.”

It’s a Wrap!
For the rest of 2016, a rising trend will be what the industry likes to call the “user-friendly factor” of packaging.

According to Stansbury of The Benchmarking Company, “Women are tired of not being able to use up all of their beauty products, and 90% say getting every last drop of product out of their bottle or tube is the most important or important aspect of primary packaging.”

Mintel expects brands will work more closely with both consumer insight groups to identify consumer preferences for packaging and work in partnership with packaging converters to ideate, design, and deliver ever-more functional, or what Mintel calls “solutions-based” packaging innovations that consumers not only recognize, but which they understand why they are different, and what that difference means to their lives and lifestyles.

Storytelling continues to grow as a trend, noted Swisher of Mary Kay. She explained, “If the product can tell a compelling story—the consumer will always connect emotionally before she connects to factual information.”

Lee of Physician’s Formula is counting on delivery systems such as the cushion compact to pave the way for innovation in packaging.

“Packaging trends now and the future involve the enhancements of delivery systems,” she told Happi. “The cushion from Korea is a perfect example. Giving consumers a more evenly-dosed, mess-less and buildable way to apply foundation in a compact. We will see next generations of these, as well as similar kinds of packaging innovation.”

For 2017 and beyond, it’s all about taking packaging to the next level. Said Gaitanaros of Birchbox, “I’m excited about pushing the boundaries on format, shapes and materials. That means moving beyond the conventional thinking that packaging be a side product of what’s inside, and instead thinking of it as an equally important part of the overall emotional experience…people will never stop experimenting. Now anything goes: wrap a candy bar in expensive Italian handmade paper or drop a Rolex in a brown cardboard box—as long as the experience puts the customer first, packaging can continue to evolve and add value.”

Target talk: Monica saracino, The project underground
Three big beauty brands hit Target this season—Marlowe, You Are Amazing and Mayfair Soap Foundry. General manager of The Project Underground Monica Saracino, a Los Angeles-based marketer for these launches, took time to chat with Happi about packaging specifics:

“Shoppers want beautifully designed products that fit into their personal style, they know what they display on their bathroom counters communicates who they are. However, you have to get function and convenience right, no matter how beautiful the package, if it doesn’t perform the way the customer wants, it won’t last.  

“The hottest trends in packaging are simplicity, gender-neutrality, display-ability and drawing inspiration from food packaging.” 

Simplicity: With the incredible amount of choices and the overload on information, there has been a shift to creating packaging more simplistic. Cleaner, minimal designs that communicate the essential information. 

Androgynous/Gender-Neutral: Traditionally packaging has been very gender specific, both in silhouettes and colors. A move to non-gender specific packaging and design has come into the marketplace. 

Display-ability: As more young people opt for city living with smaller living spaces, packaging is being created to be shown off and kept out in view. This includes not only how the product packaging pops on shelf, but also how the package will look and feel in the home.  

Related End-User Markets:

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