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Packaging is Critical to Brand Identity

By: Karen A. Newman
Posted: February 27, 2009, from the March 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

Luxury, specialty and mass beauty brands all know packaging’s power to project an identity and move product through the till.

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Indeed, Dirr says that because her background is primarily in the beauty and personal care packaging industry, packaging is always in the back of her mind. “When launching new products, packaging is always part of the initial discussions,” Dirr says. “After all, we still rely on our packaging to sell our products to a certain degree.” Packaging is instrumental in supporting carefully developed formulas and brand messages.

Good and Glamorous

“We’re always on a mission to prove that glamour can be good for you, and that sentiment extends way beyond our formulas,” says Tarte’s Sansotta. “We’re constantly evaluating and creating packaging based on several criteria—including eco-friendliness, reusability, fashion trends and functionality. Every component we produce has to strike the perfect balance of form and function.”

Whether it’s a mascara tube composed of postconsumer recycled aluminum or a reusable natural straw palette, the component must be of the highest production quality first and foremost. “We develop new packaging concepts with the idea that components are chic accessories that you actually want to show off and, more importantly, that you don’t just throw away,” says Sansotta. “Everything we create is meant to be reused or recycled to help reduce environmental waste.” In 2009, the brand is boosting its initiative by marking components with composition codes to aid local recycling efforts.

Packaging is serious business at Tarte. So serious that the brand’s senior manager of product development, Heather Ratushny, calls it a driving force in conceptual development. “It either dictates the formula base and product end use, or is developed as an appropriate delivery system for the working formula,” she says. “In addition to the functional and aesthetic aspects of the primary package, we also take into account the various packaging materials being used to ensure that they are either repurposed materials or can be re-used or recycled to cut down on packaging waste for the environment.”

Celebrating Simplicity

The story is similar at Mode Cosmetics, where Samuels says packaging is one of the first elements considered in the development process. “A package’s design can inspire the creation and formulation of a new product,” she says. Samuels is tuned in to what her customers are looking for, and that can play a major part in packaging design and selection. She cites a recent move to more portable packaging, as well as the importance of delivering modern packaging that clearly expresses the selling proposition of the ingredients.

Supply-side Success