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A Different Face for Different Seasons

By: Lisa Doyle
Posted: October 31, 2013, from the November 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.
  • The holidays are a hotbed for seasonal beauty gift sets and packaging opportunities, but sourcing and creating the packaging can take a year or more.
  • Seasonal packs for beauty products don’t always have to follow conventional color or structure rules. It’s about finding how the spirit of the season mixes with the soul of the brand.
  • November and December aren’t the only times for seasonal beauty packaging. Fun elements and design can be added in to packaging to reflect the changing seasons any time of year.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are soon upon us, and many beauty brands will be in good cheer as sales begin to surge for the holiday season. Indeed, the final six weeks of the year can mean one-third or more of a brand’s annual profits—according to The NPD Group, the prestige fragrance category sees 34% of its yearly sales during the holiday season, largely due to sales of gift sets.

“Gift sets have often provided a somewhat stress-free purchase for the shopper to get in and out of the madness that surrounds shopping during the holiday season,” said Karen Grant, vice president and senior global industry analyst, The NPD Group.

Setting your holiday gift sets apart with eye-catching and innovative packaging can mean better results for your brand. And implementing this theory for each season can mean year-round success.

Research and Development

As the holiday season is such a vital time for sales, it behooves a brand to invest ample time to make certain the entire look and feel of the offering is just right. “For holiday lines, clients may start working around 12 to 18 months before launch,” says Stephanie Padilla, product marketing manager for Quadpack. “The key is to first find the right packaging and provide samples for testing functionality and compatibility in order for the client to [conduct] the necessary test to evaluate their formula in the packaging.”

Karen Vogt, director of creation with Cosfibel, agrees that the process for the perfect secondary package could take a year. After several months involved in design with 3D renderings, the project will then go to the development team “to study the feasibility, technical solutions and the cost,” says Vogt. “Then, we have around six to nine months of development before expecting the order.”

Beyond Red and Green

Is it ever in a brand’s best interest to keep with standard motifs when it comes to holiday packaging? It depends on whether the brand can separate the tired from the tried-and-true. “There is a definite look and feel that needs to be achieved for Christmas editions,” says Padilla. “However novel the packaging, it must still convey an appropriate seasonal feeling.”

Cristina Samuels, owner of Mode Cosmetics, agrees that clichéd holiday packaging is to be avoided. “Consumers gravitate toward more eye-catching, glittering effects during the holiday season, and we incorporate festive elements in the formulary that’s visually popping,” she says. “For example, our Dashingly Chic Jeweled Glitter Nail Enamels deliver extravagant, jewel-like effects with a chic and dazzling finish perfect for holiday celebrations.”

Another case of holiday-perfect packaging was Cosfibel’s creation for a line of Thierry Mugler fragrance gift sets in 2012. In asymmetrical bow tie-shaped boxes, the packages held a full-sized, star-shaped fragrance bottle, and a tube each for shower gel and body lotion. Featuring both glossy and matte effects, the luxe packaging both fit the brand and set the fragrances apart on the shelves.

For this winter, Stila has just released Vintage Artistry Inspired, beautiful paper-wrapped palettes and tins reminiscent of antique pencil cases and watercolor kits. The line also notably includes the Masterpiece Series set, packaged to look like a retro book trilogy. The set features three makeup palettes, each containing five eye shadows and one powder cheek color, designed for art-inspired natural, smoky and plum looks; and, the fourth book includes tutorials, tips and tricks from Stila pro artist Sarah Lucero.

Outside the Holiday Season

While the holidays are integral to a brand’s marketing plan, the rest of the year provides ample opportunities to capitalize on seasonal packaging as well.

“Any of our packaging can be designed or color-matched to fit season-specific times,” explains Padilla. In summer 2013, Quadpack’s company Technotraf was instrumental in the launch of Guerlain’s Terra Ora compact, made of beechwood stained a rich, dark brown color. The brand name is set apart and hot-stamped with vibrant gold lettering onto the case. “Wood is becoming fashionable,” Padilla notes. “Not only does it add weight, a sense of luxury and a natural touch, but when sourced from sustainable forests, it also becomes eco-friendly—an increasing demand by consumers. All Technotraf products are sourced from PEFC-certified forests.”

2013 also marked a yearlong rollout of products resulting from a partnership between MAC Cosmetics and pop star Rihanna: the RiRi Hearts MAC Collection. The four launches took place in May (coinciding with her concert tour), summer, fall and the holidays. Each of the 31 SKUs featured different packaging corresponding to its respective launch, but is tied together with her trademark “RiRi” signature etched into either the package or the cosmetic itself. The first launch, the RiRi Woo lipstick, a spin on MAC’s famed and versatile Ruby Woo, reportedly sold out in its first three hours on the market.

Changing Seasons, Changing Emotions

Packaging is a beauty brand’s chance to give a product personality on the shelf, and changing designs to help reflect changing seasons certainly adds to the charm. Just make sure your branding is staying strong no matter the season, and have a little fun with it.

Lisa Doyle was formerly the associate editor of GCI magazine and is a freelance writer in the Chicago area. Her work has appeared in Skin Inc. magazine, Salon Today, America’s Best, Renew and Modern Salon.