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Caught in the Clutch: Beauty Packaging On the Go

By: Kelley Styring
Posted: November 28, 2012, from the January 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.
Products falling into an open purse

page 3 of 3

For beauty brand owners and managers, the contradiction that offers the biggest opportunity is this: The purse contains cosmetic products that beautify, yet do not maintain their own beauty. Many of the attractive packages purchased become abraded and soiled over time, with peeling, deteriorating labels removing brand appeal and, in some cases, brand identification as well. This indicates an innovation opportunity for both packaging and printing technology.

Another purse-related beauty packaging opportunity relates to size. A remarkable 11% of women had small tubes of hand or body lotion from Bath & Body Works in their purses. This is a sign that, despite seemingly lower overall household penetration, well-designed, purse-friendly packaging can create a big hit in women’s purses. Compare that prevalence of Bath & Body Works’ lotions in purses to popular household brand Jergens, which only showed up in 2% of purses studied.

Beauty and packaging companies should also consider designing specifically for the purse. Women often buy two of the same product in order to have one at home and one in their purse, so why not design beauty products that bring together popular combinations—foundation, blush and mascara or a hairbrush with styling gel in the handle, for example? Why not more “industrial-strength” packaging that will hold up in the harsh environment of the handbag?

For every item in the purse, there is a host of contradictions to explore and a wealth of opportunities to make the lives of women easier. Beauty brand owners that do so will win not only a spot in a woman’s heart but also a place in her purse—right next to her wallet.

Kelley Styring is the author of In Your Purse: Archaeology of the American Handbag. The insatiably curious, fearless and passionate innovator helps her clients discover new opportunities for growth through consumer insight. A Procter & Gamble and Frito-Lay market research veteran, Styring is a favorite marketing industry speaker and has authored several studies and books on consumer behavior and trends. For more information, go to