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The Simple Story of Wonderfully Complex Color Packaging

By: Kevin Marshall
Posted: August 28, 2012, from the September 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Bridging color and skin care, Christian Dior’s Diorskin Nude Tan Glow Sun Powder is upscale and techy, and comes (appropriately) in an equally high-tech-looking silver Cannage compact that literally blings. The mini Kabuki application brush is also accented with shiny silver, lending both articles a fashion-forward, sleek persona.

More Trends and More Ways to Execute

Another package trend (albeit very different in visual impression than metallization) is clarity—the use of higher-end, clear plastics to suggest luxury in a fresh way. Eastman Chemical’s unique polymer ESTAR-CN was invented to allow designers and brand owners to produce sharp, intricate and heavy-walled designs in a crystal clear material conceived to foster creativity. I can honestly say this premium material is fun to work with, as Marc Rosen Associates and Eastman partnered with the likes of C+N Packaging, Axilone, Plasmetik Precision Molding and Jackal Cosmetics to design and execute four color cosmetic lines leveraging the material’s attributes. As a potential client remarked while holding one of the designs, “This is new luxury.”

A mix of both clear and metallized components can be found on Sephora and Pantone’s recently launched collaborative effort the “Universe Collection.” Debuting in early 2012, this limited-edition color line is built around a “Color of the Year” (in this case Tangerine Tango #17-1463), and consists of lipsticks, nail polishes, eyeliners, blushes and makeup kits. Meant to inspire playful experimentation and reinforce how color can transform face and mood, the packaging is a bright combination of clear case tops (for easy color identification) and brushes with silver bases and caps. It’s a strong, fun statement with tremendous promotional possibilities and growth potential. Maybeline’s SuperStay 24 lip products are also a great example of combining metallics and clear materials on both primary and secondary packages, for an overall impactful presence and easy line navigation.

Delivering the Goods; The Details

Of course, great packaging is more about looking nice; it needs to function effortlessly and evacuate or allow access to the product within. To this end, many companies are investing in new delivery system and applicator technologies, recognizing that in today’s competitive market, smaller details make a big difference. Not that the point-of-contact between a consumer and a product is a small detail. In fact, well-engineered delivery systems enhance the appeal of a brand and deliver the actual product experience that fuels customer excitement and future purchases.

Companies such as Wormser, TaikiUSA, World Wide Packaging, the Geka Group and OEKAbeauty (to name a few) are all developing ultra-advanced delivery systems or applicators that couple effectively with today’s formula and consumer needs. The challenge is to dovetail the product type and/or delivery/applicator innovations in order to enhance a formula’s benefits and usage. Excelling at this gives a product a point-of-differentiation over the competition and infers quality, efficiency and value.