Beauty is in the Eye of the Consumer

Cosmetic Industry Utilizes Plastics Decorating Techniques for Shelf Presence

by Dianna Brodine, Plastics Decorating
With nearly 64 million women between the ages of 25 and 59 in the US alone, the cosmetics market is on track for significant growth.

With nearly 64 million women between the ages of 25 and 59 in the US alone, the cosmetic and personal care markets are hotter than ever. Consumer demand for beauty products for skin, hair and nails is growing, while product designers compete to grab attention on the retail shelf. Using unique container elements, multiple foil passes and metallization to attract the eye of the buyer, cosmetic packaging is leading the charge for brand awareness and shelf presence – and plastics decorators are adding to the appeal.

Market overview

The average woman uses an estimated 12 personal care products on a daily basis. The average man? Six. From shower gels and deodorant to lipsticks and anti-aging creams, consumers are making product choices every day with the hope of changing or enhancing their appearance. Walgreens, a national chain drugstore, has more than 25,000 SKUs assigned to beauty products alone.

The cosmetics industry is anxious to provide more choices, introducing new products in a rush to meet consumer desire for the latest color trends or beauty craze. A report by Research and Markets, titled “Cosmetic Packaging Market Report – Global Trends and Forecast to 2018,” predicts the cosmetic packaging market will grow at a CAGR of 5.4 percent in just three years. Driving that growth, according to the report, are concerns about aging among women over 30 years of age and demand for skin whitener in the Asia-Pacific region.

That demand equals big money for those involved in personal care products. An article published by Wayne Collins, research analyst at Transparency Market Research Pvt. Ltd., discussed a recent report by the company. “Cosmetic Packaging Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2013-2019” valued the global demand for personal care packaging at more than $19 billion in 2012 and forecasted growth of more than $6 billion by 2019.

Growth like that will put pressure on cosmetic package designers looking to help their products gain consumer attention on the retail shelf. With plastics as the preferred material for more than 50 percent of the cosmetics and personal care markets, the opportunity exists for plastics decorators to help their customers earn a share of consumer dollars through the use of creative decorating techniques.

A view from the trenches

According to Ernst & Young and cited in a study from The Beauty Company (TBC), “Upwards of 80 percent of new brands fail, and the primary reason is a lack of differentiation from competitors.”

Packaging decoration for cosmetics and personal care products is a key point of differentiation, and hot stamping of foils remains a prominent method for attaining that differentiation. Bill Morey, manager, technical sales, hot stamp dies and tooling for Schwerdtle, Inc., works with a variety of product decorating companies to help them meet the needs of their customers, placing him in a unique position to see the trends as packaging moves into the retail space. “What we’re seeing right now is demand for both metalizing and coatings,” Morey said. “Whether matte finishes or bright chrome, customers are trying to do more with hot stamping foil.”

Kristen O’Connell, manager of marketing and design for Roberts Cosmetics + Containers, agreed that metalizing is moving beyond traditional metal colors. Roberts Cosmetics + Containers, located in Chatsworth, California, has been involved in the cosmetics industry since the end of World War II, when the company began modifying ammunition molds to create lipstick cases. Today, the company works with customers from container design through product decoration. “What we’re starting to see now is an increased popularity for metalizing certain plastics in other colors. Customers are thinking beyond chrome or a shiny gold,” O’Connell said. “Instead, they’re metalizing in dark purple or pink, which gives the packaging component an extra color for the brand. The decoration itself can be more basic because the component itself is so powerful.”

With many of the products in the personal care category falling under the luxury product label, consumer perception of value is heavily influenced by the look and feel of the packaging. “For all packaging, cosmetic companies are looking for innovation and want to be unique,” said O’Connell. “The demand is for dramatic textures and colors. Water transfer printing was popular for a while, and now there are high-end Korean companies using laser printing to create multiple colors and finishes on the same space.” She pointed out that these techniques are costly, saying, “Decorative inspiration can become more expensive than the actual packaging.”

Higher decorating costs have led some companies to a return to the basics, such as silkscreening. Other customers have embraced foil stamping in new ways, using several foils in multiple passes to achieve a finish technique or texture. Sam Khodzhayan, vice president, plant manufacturing for Hanes Erie, Inc. concurred, noting a number of packages where both shiny and matte hot stamping foils are utilized on the same package to achieve a particular look.

Schwerdtle works extensively with Hanes Erie, Inc. of Erie, Pennsylvania. Hanes is well known for its high-quality decorating of all plastic and glass packages, including cosmetic caps, jars, lipsticks, mascaras and bottles. With a diverse range of decorating techniques, the company offers conventional and UV coatings, as well as hot stamping, screen printing, pad printing and label application to customers that include Clinique and Bath & Body Works.

According to Hanes Erie, specialty coatings prior to printing are very much in demand throughout cosmetic package decorating circles, whether on plastic or glass components. “Coating appearances may range from a single color or matte finish to glitter finish or to create a ‘soft touch’ surface,” Khodzhayan explained. “The popular coatings may be applied as a complete finish or in a fadeout design, merging colors into a shading effect. Surface finishes also may be applied with areas that are masked in specific areas to allow secondary applications such as hot stamping to create a unique appearance.”

Khodzhayan also said package designs are getting more complicated as cosmetic companies look for an edge over the competition. “I’ve been doing this for 24 years, and we used to see very simple hot stamping applications with a logo, name or a branding element that was stamped with foil. Gradually, it’s become more complex,” he explained. “We’re seeing larger areas stamped, more intricate details and holographic effects.” Hanes Erie has seen an increase in requests for hot stamping, partially because of technology improvements. “The process itself didn’t change, but the method that produced the image became faster and more efficient, which means the customers can afford it,” he said.

O’Connell said product receptacles are receiving more design attention than usual, including some elements that previously may have been thought of as disposable. “In some of the compacts that are multi-layered, the plastic separating disc now is thought of as a decoration surface and may be a different shape or pattern,” she explained.

Not to be overlooked is the need for product batch numbers and legal information. “An an ever-increasing need for informational and legal text decorative applications, which may be hot stamped or silkscreened, increases the wording required on packaging, but that text still is held to true cosmetic quality standards, despite the small text size,” Khodzhayan explained. Another method of applying that information was once discounted as an option for many high-end cosmetic brands, but O’Connell said the label is coming back. “Labels used to have a stigma in terms of luxury packaging, but label printing has improved,” she explained. “Companies wanting brand differentiation through the use of multiple colors have started looking at labels again.”

Peering into the future

Plastics decorators bring shine, shimmer and shelf appeal to personal care packaging. COURTESY/Roberts Cosmetics + Containers

At Roberts Cosmetics + Containers, the company works closely with its customers from product design through production. Its reputation as an innovator requires a finger on the pulse of the industry. “We’re definitely monitoring what’s going on in all markets of the world,” O’Connell explained. “For example, the most important player right now is South Korea, so we have a strong presence there to monitor it closely.” The company uses its understanding of the global market to lead its customers to the trends in both container design and decoration that will help a product succeed, while also guiding decisions about resins, inks and production processes.

As a hot stamp tool designer, Schwerdtle is further from influencing product design. “Schwerdtle has tried for quite some time to get directly involved earlier into the concept and design process, which starts with end customers such as Avon, L’Oreal and Lauder Group,” Morey explained. “Typically, the first that hot stamp die and toolmakers see of a package design with or without accompanying conceptual artwork is when that next ‘new’ package design gets sent to our customer, the actual package manufacturer. We may get to critique the part designs as to the feasibility of decorating the particular shapes or contours with the equipment available in my customers’ production facility; however, the project at that time usually is already planned for production.”

With the personal care market set to experience incredible growth in the near future, opportunities abound for everyone involved in container design and decoration. The challenge is to help the customer imagine the possibilities, both through the use of traditional plastics decorating options such as hot stamping foils to “new” old favorites like labels.

As a company, Roberts has launched an initiative to showcase more of its finished product, allowing customers to imagine more of the options when developing new packaging and its accompanying decorating techniques. O’Connell explained, “Whether it’s functionality or visual appeal, our customers tell us what they want, and we figure out how to make it.”