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Natural Product Packaging

By: Red R. Thalhammer
Posted: December 10, 2007, from the December 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

In today’s crowded marketplace, it is extremely difficult for a cosmetic product to stand out among the many others on the shelf. The current rise in popularity of natural products makes today the perfect time to introduce a whole new experience to beauty product packaging. It is imperative that companies place emphasis on packaging for subtle yet strong brand execution, and in so doing, communicate a contemporary philosophy while ensuring their distinct place in the natural cosmetics market.

Getting back to what is natural is not just a short-term trend; it has a promising and profitable future in the cosmetics business, to which many companies have already caught on. However, with the recent influx of organic and natural cosmetic lines, it is tiring for the customer to visually differentiate between the natural cosmetic brands and their generic counterparts. Differentiating between various levels of quality within the natural sector is yet another challenge.

Research shows that approximately 70% of consumers’ product-buying decisions are based on presentation. So how does a product grab the consumer’s attention? To say it simply—it is the packaging, with all of its subtle cues and subliminal communication, that makes the customer notice a product on the shelf, pick it up, take it to the register and swipe her credit card. It can be asserted, without eqivocation, that the lifestyle, tastes and purchasing psychology of today’s consumers have changed vastly in the past 25 years. As that is the case, why then does much of the cosmetic industry turn to the same outdated packaging design that has ruled the marketplace over the past two decades? Products in the natural arena have changed yet the packaging hasn’t—it is like draping a drab old cover over a swanky new couch.

Kudos to Exceptions

Jurlique just launched new packaging that reflects its vision of purity, integrity and care. The greatness of the previous packaging was in the consistency of dark blue type across the product line, applied mostly on white tinted glass containers and tubes. Each product had a unique appearance that echoed the history of the company’s family-owned herb farm and business in South Australia. The new brand design has a coherent look with its beautifully shaped new containers; on the other hand, the graphics are not that different from other generic cosmetic lines.

Packaging design for most cosmetic brands is in dire need of a makeover. But to find a different path, we must first look at the patterns that have been repeated consistently over the years. Imagine the packaging of a cosmetic product. The picture that most typically comes to mind is a bottle or a jar with centered serif or non-serif type describing its contents. Often the label features a small icon above the font to add a visual kick to the presentation. Sadly, this simple yet unimaginative design still sets the norm for most premium brands in the cosmetic industry.