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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.

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Juicy Couture’s Eau de Parfum and Urban Decay’s The Black Palette are other examples of traditional brands utilizing strong gothic brand identities as the primary visual communication in these products through the use of gothic letterforms. In addition to typography, many of these gothic beauty identities also have embellishments to hint at a connection to a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. For instance, OPI’s Rocker Chic nail polish set has graphic representations of punk rock rivets printed onto the carton for visual dimension.

Trend #4: Pop Culture

The connection between beauty and pop culture has been growing significantly as the lines between marketing and entertainment are becoming more and more blurred. The trend of fusing entertainment and pop culture themes into beauty packaging is becoming a staple in the color cosmetics industry, with popular television shows and movies serving as inspiration for beauty products and resulting in licensing relationships. [For more on these relationships, read “Licensing in Color: Movie-inspired Makeup” at or in the April 2010 print issue of GCI magazine.]

The vampire trend has been building steam for the past few years and seems to be going strong, with the Twilight brand still leading the pack with teen and tween audiences. In addition to the many brands that have licensed the name in the past few years, Twilight Beauty has recently launched a line of products with detailed collections titled around specific vampire-inspired looks and names such as Luna Twilight and Volturi Twilight.

Movies and television shows with a strong makeup narrative are also growing in popularity as a way for fans to connect to the looks and characters explored in the stories. Smashbox’s Burlesque kit is inspired by the showy looks in the 2010 movie with Cher and Christina Aguilera. OPI’s Glee nail polish set is an example of a television show tie-in, with a product offering broad enough to have staying power as long as the hit show maintains its popularity. Even television networks are hopping on this bandwagon. E! network is already known for its emphasis on celebrity culture, and has launched a line of Red Carpet collections that allow the user to achieve the look of her favorite star as seen in popular awards show coverage.

Trend #5: Novelty

Novelty shapes and packaging concepts is another recent trend in beauty. This trend has been seen for quite some time in collectible or limited edition packages, but more recently it is being seen in permanent collections and products. Most of the packages categorized in this trend have some kind of gimmick to either the product shape or the packaging technique itself to create a distinct visual brand identity. A tongue-in-cheek approach is often taken in brands with this packaging identity to draw attention to the uniqueness of the company or product.