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The 2013 Beauty Packaging Identity Trends

By: Aniko Hill
Posted: August 26, 2013, from the September 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.
Estée Lauder’s Bronze Goddess Powder Bronzer compact and secondary packaging box

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Brands in this category are even taking the nautical or beach theme all the way from their brand name to the packaging identity. Victoria’s Secret’s Bombshell in Paradise has ocean blue gradations on its primary packaging, and the secondary packaging features additional nautical themes such as rope graphics, travel stamps and a gold foil stamped seal. Lush’s limited edition Beach Box has five beach-inspired products packaged in an eco-friendly barn box structure made from craft paper and printed with a bright seaweed pattern and casual, handmade-looking typography with facts about ocean conservation printed on it.

Trend #4: Food

The food trend is one of the most explored concepts, and many of the products that fall within it have a distinct novelty feel to them. The packages in this trend feature food-inspired visuals, almost always playing off of the scent cue of the product inside. The packaging identity is fun, cheerful and optimistic in tone, and often features illustration or photography of food.

Cucina was one of the first beauty companies to successfully adopt food inspiration for its product packaging. Cucina means kitchen in Italian, and the brand and its packaging take inspiration from kitchen ingredients and real food packaging. Many of its primary components take direct inspiration from food, and are reminiscent of traditional olive oil, cheese and honey packaging. The Cucina packaging identity also utilizes illustrations of fruit, with additional subtle references to vintage food packages such as stamps and seals that were originally designed to keep products fresh.

More recently, Bath & Body Works has adopted a tongue-in-cheek approach, both visually and in the messaging, with its Fresh Picked collection, which includes vibrant food photography on the labels and unique secondary structures that resemble fruit crates and carriers.

In some instances, both the product and the packaging are food-inspired. Korean skin care line Skin Food (launched in the U.S. in 2011) centers its entire brand around the food ingredients in the formulations. Like Cucina, its packaging is inspired by food packaging structures, often directly related to the product inside. For example, Skin Food’s Steam Milk Essence Mist is packaged in a milk carton structure, and includes a graphic cow print and typography that resembles nutrition facts found on food labels.

Also within this trend, food references can be more abstract, artistic or decorative. For example, Issey Miyake’s L’eau D’Issey summer edition packaging features abstract gestural interpretations of fruit such as pomegranates and kiwis. Crabtree & Evelyn’s Avocado Olive & Basil line has a decorative avocado pattern on the soap and a vintage, botanical-inspired illustration on the pumps and secondary carton structures.

Trend #5: Wallpaper

Packaging with ornamental patterns as the primary identity is a common trend found in the beauty industry, and is widely seen in almost all beauty sub categories including cosmetics, fragrance and skin care. These packages feature patterns that are reminiscent of wallpaper seen in home décor, and tend to be fun, feminine and decorative in nature.

Much like the food-inspired trend, many of these packages have graphics that visually reference the scent or ingredient inside. Crabtree & Evelyn’s Tarocco Orange features a monochromatic botanical pattern on the vintage wallpaper design on its secondary packaging, and, as related category example, Origins’ Warm Up candle packaging’s pattern is both floral and fruit-inspired to communicate the combination of orange, ginger and amber scents of the product.

Some of the designs seen in this trend also mimic either a cultural or vintage pattern. Charlotte Ronson Summer Always has a packaging identity with a tribal pattern, with interlocking diamond shapes woven between the typography in the package design. Fresh’s Mangosteen soap has a vintage floral pattern, with a circular seal element and wire tie completing the overall traditional regal feel. And Estée Lauder’s Bronze Goddess Powder Bronzer utilizes a pattern that references 60s or 70s era textile designs with a vintage color palette.

Trend #6: Sculptural

The next grouping of products have an artistic, sculptural feel—like little works of art. And perhaps not surprisingly, all of them are in the fragrance category—and though some have been on shelves prior to 2013, there influence continues to be felt. Because fragrance has a higher price point and a longer shelf life, the package designs allow for a more intensive process involved with developing a custom component. These products also live on the customer’s dressing table after purchase, so having something that feels like a premium home accessory is important to the design, and can influence the customer’s purchase decision.

In this trend, the forms can range from expressive to simple. On the more intricate side, Thierry Mugler’s Angel has a sculpted, dynamic, angular asymmetric form with a dimensional star shape at the cap. Justin Bieber’s Girlfriend fragrance is a relatively simple oblong shape, but is enclosed by a series of overlapping expressive circle shapes in various bright colors that resemble stacked bangles. And Marc Jacobs’ Dot is a more playful take on a complex structural form, with embellishments that resemble flower petals and red and white spots that look like a ladybug.

In the packages that are more simple and minimal in nature, many have references to architecture or industrial design. Issey Miyake’s L’eau D’Issey is a tall, thin tapering triangular shape with a clean white and silver color palette to help draw attention to the form. Carolina Herrera’s 212 fragrance is a unique oblong pill-shaped design that feels clean and singular. And DKNY’s Be Delicious is also a relatively minimal form, and has an abstract shape that is reminiscent of a piece of fruit.

The design of these packages can also conjure an image of the broad concept or celebrity behind them. For example, Lady Gaga’s Fame fragrance has a relatively simple oval-shaped form at the base but with added sharp gothic inspired embellishments that reference her edgy personal brand.

Trend #7: Alternate Typography

Typography is one of the most important elements in most designs, as it usually conveys the brand name and key messaging on the most prominent panels of the package, and alternate typography—with identities that utilize handwriting-inspired letterforms, multicultural letterforms and other non-traditional letterforms—is another trend in current packaging.