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Within the Lines

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: March 9, 2007

page 5 of 8

Function and Fashion: Serving Two Masters
Function and fashion have been cited as requirements for color cosmetics, but how does this translate for color cosmetic packaging? In some cases, manufacturers and marketers look to achieve the impossible, and that high fashion or impossible-to-achieve packaging, in all likelihood, may not be critical to the success of a product. Going back to the premise presented earlier in this discussion—innovation is not about packaging, it’s about giving brands the competitive edge. Consider what competitive edge may be gained by a design that follows fashion trends.

“Function and fashion is a double-edge sword,” said Pearlman. “(They) provide an opportunity to excel versus competition, but can also be a negative if a competitor says it can do the impossible. We are not convinced that ‘fashion’ is an absolutely critical aspect of promoting color cosmetics. There are so many success stories where the packaging is relatively stark and simple as with MAC and Kiehl’s.”

“The issues we encounter most are trying to color a package with certain effects that are not achievable,” said Prusak. “Requirements such as mirrored effects or duplicating the look of steel in plastics is not achievable—yet. PolyOne is the best colorant company, but we cannot change physics—yet.”

Pfaff adds another piece to the function/fashion equations—quality, and states that it is the symbiosis between those elements that yield a high-end package.

Evolving Markets and Distribution Channels
Market data shows that sales for color cosmetics remain flat in mature markets and are growing in developing regions. At the same time, distribution channels evolve to include outlets well outside the realm of department stores, boutiques and chain outlets—Gap, for example. Although these factors may not force wholesale packaging changes for brands as they explore new markets and distribution channels, they do require consideration.