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The color cosmetics segment is largely influenced by fashion and ever-emerging yet short-lived trends; thus packagers are forced to deal with the requirements of current trends and to anticipate those on the horizon. Because these trends are often so short-lived, it is beneficial for packagers to stay ahead of their customers—spotting trends and then presenting ideas and proposals.
Like manufacturers of color cosmetics, packagers are looking 12–24 months ahead for trends, and the rate of new product introductions is pushing packagers to further increase the forecast range. Packagers must facilitate speed-to-market and consider the impact that trends have on tooling and mold costs; therefore, flexibility is crucial.
“Colorant schemes are very high on the list of priorities to be completed,” said Pete Prusak, director of technology, color business, PolyOne. “The danger is bad market trend data. If the ‘color of the year’ ends too quickly, a product launch could be in jeopardy.”
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The early involvement of packaging engineers, use of digital prototyping and color consulting is key to maintaining speed-to-market. Ampacet launched a series of color consulting and design services for packagers. Future Color Intelligence (FCI) includes an annual forecast of both global and regional color trends, tailored reports that translate brand positioning to color concepts, and Kaleid-A-Vision—a real-time, interactive design tool intended to facilitate and accelerate color selection, effects and textural elements.
“Future Color Intelligence gives designers and brand managers new research on which combination of colors and effects will help them position their brands for success in the marketplace,” says Doug Brownfield, strategic business manager, Ampacet. “This unique constellation of packaging services begins with a global view of emerging colors and extends to color design for speed-to-market and high shelf impact.” As a preliminary step to color matching, Kaleid-A-Vision lets designers apply colors, surface textures, labels and special effects to CAD drawings of their package. The system is relies on Ampacet’s comprehensive database of colors and special effects.
“Kaleid-A-Vision offers practical design support in the early design stages of package development,” says Brownfield. “The system provides unlimited color and effect stylings for actual bottle designs and label imports. It keeps the color development process moving forward since all involved can create and communicate in real time without traveling to an outside design studio or color lab. This means much faster time to market.”
Once the colors for a package are chosen, Ampacet creates formulations to match them and then sends sample bottles and closures to the customer for evaluation. The need to work with color chips, spray-painted bottles or pictures from magazines is eliminated. As a result, the number of color matches needed is likewise reduced and the overall color selection process becomes more efficient. Kaleid-A-Vision image files can be shared electronically and work with most commonly used design formats.
The annual forecast includes socioeconomic research into the global influences likely to shape future color preferences, and examines the predicted evolution of colors over a 12–18 month period to create a palette of 16 global colors, supported by four regional palettes.
Clariant Masterbatches Division’s color trends initiative, ColorForward, has demonstrated that reflective light and tactile experiences play increasingly important roles in both mass-market and luxury packaging. Based on its findings, the company developed ENIGMA Effects Pack, which launched at HBA 2006. Clariant states that the pack demonstrates how special-effect color systems incorporated into a package’s design capitalize on trends and give products increased consumer appeal. As with Ampacet’s forecasts, ColorForward explores changes in culture and lifestyle and how they affect color choices and preferences.
The pack itself includes color/effect systems demonstrated in six multilayer high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles finished off with a clarified polypropylene (PP) thin-wall over cap. Pack color system begins with the same base color—an opaque, saturated purple. The purple is then paired with a different effect in each bottle to demonstrate how the look of a package can be changed with special treatments such as tactile effects, reflective effects and the company’s “wet look”—a smooth, high gloss surface.
“When used with a deep opaque color like purple, it creates an impression of great depth—as if one were looking into deep water,” said Carolyn Sedgwick, business manager, Clariant ColorWorks. “It also helps heighten the reflectivity of the color system, making it appear more brilliant.” In addition to tactile qualities, the effects allow light interaction in a way that is different from pearlescent mica flake, the more conventional option for achieving light reflectivity.
“Mica-based pearlescents have become commonplace in mass-market consumer packaging,” said Sedgwick. “We are now seeing an increased interest in other effects that develop a more distinctive relationship with light. This is especially important in luxury and beauty categories.”
In May 2006, Prusak noted that OEMs were turning to effects such as iridescent pearls—at a cost four times that of white pearls—to differentiate packaging and that unique iridescent pigments were affective in attracting consumers. Clariant is among the companies using iridescent pearls as opposed to the standard white/silver pearlescents. Iridescent pearls provide a variety of color flips, and Sedgwick reports that the current trend of using a supporting effect—an iridescent pearl over a base, for example—boosts the overall color appearance.
“Moving forward, we expect to see a continued use of supporting iridescent pearls as well as an expansion into more innovative contrasting effect pairings, such as a green iridescent pearl over a purple base color,” said Sedgwick. “The contrasting effect makes a siren statement. The iridescent pearl color appears to hover over a contrasting base color, providing maximum light reflectivity and creating the appearance of movement as shoppers walk toward the package. It is quite unusual and, therefore, results in great shelf presence.”