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2011 Beauty Packaging Identity Trends

By: Aniko Hill
Posted: April 7, 2011, from the April 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

A prime example of the trend for geometric/desconstructed shapes, the bottle for Bang by Marc Jacobs actually looks like a smashed piece of industrial metal, which is a clever reference to the product name.

  • Alternative shapes is one of the newer trends in beauty packaging.
  • The trend to utilize the unique and distinct visual style of Japan as the brand identity results in package designs that are bold, fun and unapologetically cute.
  • The ongoing rock ‘n’ roll trend has been skewing more dark and gothic in appearance and tone.
  • Novelty shapes and packaging concepts, a staple of collectible or limited edition packages, is being seen in permanent collections and products.
  • The use of strong industrial influences as the packaging identity is particularly prevalent in men’s products.

Beauty, like most industries, is in a constant state of flux with the identity of its brands. Most companies rebrand to accommodate a shift in their company culture or product lineup, or simply to stay current. In this process, trends can develop that spread across an entire industry. Some of these trends, such as the movement toward sustainability, follow a broader cultural shift that can be seen across multiple categories. Others, such as packaging structures, are more specific to the beauty industry alone. Some trends can simply be fads that come and go quickly, while others endure the test of time and become styles with staying power. Trends can be visual, message-oriented, tactile, or related to the nature of the product itself.

One of the best places to study brand trends in the beauty industry is in packaging. Packaging is often the first contact a consumer has with a brand, and can, therefore, greatly influence purchase decisions. This is why beauty companies tend to invest more in packaging than other brand touch points. For the beauty brand owners, following trends doesn’t necessarily mean adapting their product offerings or marketing strategies to follow them. In fact, a company may want to avoid trends to avoid getting lost in the marketplace. When embarking on establishing a brand or rebranding an existing company, it is critical to survey what the competition is doing to best differentiate your brand look and feel.

When researching the trends of 2011, there was a lot of repetition of 2010 and 2009 trends, explored in previous GCI magazine features.

Some of the same trends are still taking place, but this feature focuses on categories not previously explored. The following represents a survey of notable packaging identity trends currently in the marketplace:

Trend #1: Geometric/Deconstructed Shapes