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Packaging Skin Care: Insights for a Healthy Future

Earl Trout

Skin Care: Poised for Growth

As the U.S. continues to emerge from the recent economic downturn, the beauty industry is carefully monitoring purchasing trends from American consumers—including the brightest spot in the industry: skin care. In a study released in June 2010, consulting firm Kline & Company found that sales of skin care products have grown, even when the U.S. personal care market is growing at a rate below the GDP. Skin care was the only beauty care segment that grew during the recession, averaging 4%.

As the skin care segment continues to grow, so does the interest in airless dispensing systems. In 2010, MWV led a study surrounding consumer preferences for and frustrations with airless dispensing systems among facial moisturizers and anti-aging skin care. MWV’s research identified opportunities for new brands to reach consumers, but in order to have the best opportunity for purchase, brand owners need to understand the importance of packaging and how it has the power to move consumers’ purchasing decisions.

Masstige Brands Seizing Opportunities to Reach New Customers

The economy significantly impacted American consumers’ approach to shopping. Mintel research (2010) shows that 33% of consumers prioritized necessities above all other purchases. Consumer frugality has become the new normal [features by Miriam Quart: Reviving Personal Care Brands and Aspirational Consumers Turn Nostalgic, as well as other features, notably by Euromonitor International also explore this topic]. Brands need to find new ways to attract and retain their consumers by offering higher-quality, lower-priced options at the point of sale.

Skin care products are no exception. Consumers who once focused their spending on prestige products began to carefully monitor their budgets and gravitate toward more affordable brands found at drug and grocery stores. Some masstige brands seized the opportunity to connect with these consumers by scaling up the quality of their products. To attract customers accustomed to the luxurious look and feel of prestige products, masstige brands elevated their packaging by adding decorative effects or using airless dispensers for a sleeker appearance on the shelf and more positive experience at home.

With the industry-wide move toward more elaborate packaging and suppliers offering more decoration options on more types of packaging, masstige products are better able to attract former prestige consumers.

Brand Extensions Increasing; Packaging Helps Define “New” Brands

Longtime trusted brands have been successful in expanding their consumer base by adding new product lines for targeted audiences. For instance, when Olay launched a trial version of its Pro X anti-aging line, the product sold out in just 17 minutes online. By developing a range of products at different price points and targeting different demographics, brands are able to simultaneously retain current consumers, grow their business and expand their appeal to a wider audience. As consumers press for more affordable options to meet their personal care needs, brands are increasing their suite of offerings to meet these new demands. Packaging is a key element of this process; a brand’s appearance must match the look and feel of the new brand while also synergizing with existing branding, as the product evolves to reach a niche set of consumers.

Consumers Talk in Detail About Beauty Brands and the Packaging Online

With the rise in online consumer-generated content, Americans have taken to the Internet to talk about the brands they love. More and more Americans are using the Internet to research products. Consumers are neither shy about asking their online communities about a brand or refrain from offering advice when asked. Facebook, Twitter and blogs are just a few of the places consumers can go to talk about a product before they decide where to spend their money. Packaging is not exempt from these conversations, and those involved with packaging creation and decisions have a real opportunity to educate consumers about the benefits of, for example, airless packaging.

While not all online chatter is positive, negative conversations can serve as an effective tool to help address issues raised in the online space, thereby leading to the creation of products that better address consumer needs and frustrations.

In fact, MWV’s research showed that most American consumers do not recognize an airless dispensing system and do not understand the role of an airless package in ensuring product integrity. With a more robust education, consumers can better discern an airless product from other types of pumps and the benefits of buying airless, including the freshness factor and the exactness of dispensing.

Consumers Want to Get Their Money’s Worth; Every Last Drop Counts

Consumers, as noted, are more carefully scrutinizing how they spend their money, and they want to get the most when purchasing their favorite skin care solutions. Using airless packaging again as an example, this option provides greater package integrity, minimizing the possibility that the consumer opens the package and contaminates the product. By avoiding exposure to air, airless packaging helps to ensure that the product remains fresh and sanitary—making every last drop count for money-conscience consumers.

It is important to remember, however, even though any given type of packaging offers benefits, not every option in packaging is the answer for every product. Packaging manufacturers and brand owners need to continue to choose packaging with a critical eye and select what best fits their products. It is crucial for brand owners to have a packaging partner who understands the intricacies of packaging and can advise on the benefits of specific packaging designs for each brand product.

As brand owners look to the future of their products, it is critical to consider a greater emphasis on educating consumers about the benefits of any given packaging option, including dispensing systems.

The global landscape for the beauty industry is constantly evolving, and packaging will remain an important aspect of a brand’s image and impact on the retail performance. Brand owners will continue to benefit from listening to consumer feedback and following industry trends in order to better serve their consumers in the future.

In Learning from France’s Savvy Consumer, Eva Martin Fernandez, MWV’s marketing manager in Europe for personal care products, discusses how consumer insights are affecting beauty and personal care packaging in France.

Earl Trout is director of marketing for MWV’s Beauty & Personal Care. MWV is a supplier of fragrance, personal care and cosmetic dispensing solutions with sprayers and pumps. MWV combines its own unique approach of product design through consumer insights and client partnership to deliver customized solutions to well-known brands around the world.

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