Beauty and personal care brands know that the first product to capitalize on a new trend can reap the lion’s share of consumer attention and spending. To help accelerate ideas into reality, packaging suppliers are offering an ever-increasing selection of pre-coordinated stock packaging items, quickly customizable packaging options, and specially tailored service programs all designed to improve speed to market.
Indie and emerging brands are making expert use of social media to carve specialized impressions and create indelible consumer connections by using influencers, pop-ups and specialty events to announce product launches and market their products, comments Doug Rofheart, senior sales executive, JP Packaging LLC.
“While marketing is rapidly building momentum, it’s the old adage of strike while the iron is hot,” says Rofheart. “Where in the past we had 8-12 weeks to work with the brand, we are now seeing half the time from approved artwork or sooner to make things happen and hit critical dates for these launches, shows and events.”
At the heart of quick to market is communication between brands and their supplier partners. From initial contact through rollout, packaging suppliers must actively listen and work perceptively to understand objectives, timing and how best to work as a unified team, Rofheart says. And complimenting effective communication is the wisdom of a supplier’s market experience and value-added knowledge. “Educating customers about some of the potential challenges they may face is paramount because it’s critical to get ahead of the curve on any stumbling blocks, and communicating these early on makes us all successful,” he says.
JP Packaging’s Packet Express program was tailor-made for quick to market applications, hinging on a variety of pre-engineered packettes that can be quickly customizable with a brand’s graphics. Rofheart says, “The program was designed for smaller brands or brands that want to sample numerous SKUs at one time. The MOQ is 10,000 per with sizes accommodating from 0.5 grams to 30-gram fills.”
JP Packaging’s patent-pending packette design highlights an easy action lever opening and controlled dispensing through a formed spout in the seal. “Our expedited production processes take the guesswork and wait time out of the equation to get your product to market with faster turnaround times,” he comments. “Many of the brands we work with have been very successful with our Packet Express Program exceeding expectations with speed to market and the low MOQs.”
JP Packaging worked with its partner supplier, Power Packaging, to create an elegant quick-to-market presentation for personal care brand Bastide AIX en Provence. JP Packaging produced four individual 7ml fill packettes for Bastide’s Figue D’ete Provence Liquid Hand Wash, Figue D’ete Hand and Body Lotion, Neroli Lumiere Body Wash and Corps a Corps Body Cream. Each of the 2.25 x 3.75 packettes, which are accented with gold cold foil color matching, are tucked into a custom, secondary TANGO 12pt c2s paper envelope package manufactured by Power Packaging featuring 4-color process + 2pms + matte aqueous/2 pms + matte aqueous decoration and offset lithography. Don Simmons, president, Power Packaging, reports that the lead time on the project was 6-8 weeks but the turnaround was completed in just four weeks.
ASAP Trend Interpretation
According to Cheryl Morgan, creative marketing manager, HCP Packaging, the consumer’s appetite for ‘the next big thing in beauty’ has thrown the market wide open, allowing smaller Indie brands to compete for loyalty and to gain market share previously occupied primarily by the big players–which is why it’s increasingly important for packaging suppliers to be responsive to global trends.
Morgan says HCP routinely monitors emerging global beauty trends and translates developments into relevant innovations, pack profiles and decoration techniques that offer late-stage differentiation and on-trend aesthetics. She points to the use of “stock hybrids” as an effective way to combine the benefits of stock packaging with a cost- and time-effective package customization option. “For example,” she says, “a stock compact can feature a customized cover with an embossed design, with a relatively small tooling cost. Or a stock lipstick mechanism and base can be paired with a custom cap profile to add a unique appearance.”
HCP works closely with global fillers to gain validation for a range of stock packs with core formulations. Morgan says this strategy is particularly impactful for mascara projects, giving brands a headstart in a category that’s considered to be complex and time-consuming.
To further expedite mascara projects, HCP operates collaborative Lash Studio facilities in Europe, North America and Asia, where brands can work with HCP’s mascara experts and on-site makeup artists to create innovative mascaras with innovative brush technologies and exclusive brush-formula pairings.
What’s more, the company’s France-based SIMP division is a specialist in the design, engineering and manufacture of micro-precision molded applicators and rubber wipers for the beauty industry.
Characterized by flexibility and fast tooling lead-times, SIMP enables the customer to accessorize their chosen plastic mascara brush to create individual brush designs. Each brush architecture can be adapted to suit marketing aesthetics and deliver specific makeup claims. Plastic brush material hardness can also be varied, and designs can be customized with intricate features such as arches, sculpting tools or hook, petal, twisted or curved bristles.
HCP offers similar high-speed options in its compacts and palettes. The latest addition to the company’s short-lead time line-up is its paper palette collection. As showcased in their “Paradise” collection, the packs can be accented with colorful, photo-quality graphics, special metallic, holographic and shimmer papers and highly reflective foils. HCP also offer paper packaging for lipstick and fragrance sticks, as well as covers for lip gloss.
“Trends are fleeting,” surmises David Berkman, president and CEO, Allta International. “If you’re slow or late to the game, trends have come and gone before you can even get it out there.”
As a custom turnkey color cosmetic manufacturer, one of Allta’s biggest packaging offerings are its paper palettes. Its newest additions to the lineup are refillable palettes with interchangeable pans. The company is also working on a recyclable lip gloss configuration. Berkman says eco-friendly materials continue to be a leading trend, and to that end, Allta offers recycled paper (up to 60% recycled) and soy-based inks.
One of the most flexible ways packaging suppliers are helping to fast-track a brand’s path to market is by offering a variety of in-stock options for quick selection.
ABA Packaging is a stocking distributor with about a million dollars’ worth of inventory at the ready in its New York warehouse in order to offer primary packaging components with competitive pricing, lead times and minimums. “Whereas the factory minimum order quantity might be a few thousand pieces, we can offer our stock glass by the case [and] all our stock items can ship out within one week from receipt of formal purchase order and payment,” says Liana Marchese, west coast regional sales manager, ABA Packaging. “While your competitor is waiting 6-8 weeks for the goods to be produced plus another 4-5 weeks for ocean transit, you could have your goods filled and on the shelf with plenty of time for everyone to be talking about your amazing new product.”
Chris James, vice president of sales, East Hill Industries, adds that a well-coordinated effort spanning flexible product catalog, a robust supply chain, local manufacturing, stocking and on-site decoration are additional tactics to help accelerate a brand’s path to market.
For East Hill, modular solutions are key. “We provide our own ready-to-go ranges and, as exclusive distributor for Quadpack, the Q-Line portfolio, a host of products with mix-and-match componentry,” he says, noting that the most popular references are held in stock for last-minute decoration. “Adding special touches like a wooden cap allows standard products to take on a look that’s entirely bespoke, with accelerated delivery times.”
Last year East Hill launched InStockPack.com, a new business model that enables Indie and smaller brands to order smaller, decorated quantities with fast turnaround times. James says companies can place orders according to demand, without a large investment upfront. “We have spent the past few months building inventory, looking to add uncommon and luxury references like glass and wood,” he reports.
“New additions include the Q-Line Gemel glass fragrance pack, liquid foundation pumps and new sustainable products such as a green PE (sugarcane resin) tube.”
Plant-based skincare brand Goddess Garden Organics turned to East Hill as it was prepping to launch eight new products under a tight deadline. The brand chose East Hill’s in-stock 4- and 6-oz tubes, outfitted with a custom label reflecting its clean, fresh look and feel. East Hill offered the possibility to customize and ship half of the order for filling and hold the rest. “East Hill drop-shipped the SKUs as they were completed, fulfilling the initial delivery in less than 30 days,” says James. “In this way, Goddess Garden fulfilled its launch plan on time and on budget and has decorated packaging ready to go for future orders.”
Sara Zanafredi, CEO, Pennellifaro, says, “As a private label brush manufacturer, our commitment to accelerate a brand’s path to market is to give a wide choice. We have a large range of components ready-in-stock and our clients can take a cue from our variety to realize together with us their customized product.”
Chief among Pennellifaro’s quick-to-market services is its technical research and development staff, which is fully dedicated to improving and innovating products and manufacturing processes. The company also employs a Survey Marketing Team, which constantly monitors the market and identifies new products and formulas. “We work closely with formulators to be ready, fast and quick—and to propose the right applicators perfectly combined with the cutting-edge formulas and technologies,” Zanafredi explains. “We [also] have inside our company a graphic design department fully equipped for quick prototyping [and] thanks to our advanced and ecological printing systems, we’re able to provide to our customers completely customized brushes with logos in the way they want for a quick arrival on sale.”
When it comes to decoration and package differentiation, Robert Miller, president, Precise Cosmetic Packaging, advises that some decoration options are faster than others. “When brands need fast turn times we often work with them on detailed designs that can be printed/stamped versus a coating process like metallization,” he says, advising brands to consider alternative options. “You can oftentimes achieve a similar look with the right print.”
ABA stocks primarily bottles and jars in clear glass and plastic, but the company also stocks a variety of acid-etch frosted bottles and jars to offer some stock customized options. “By having frosted bottles readily available from stock, this could save our customers about 3-4 weeks waiting for their clear bottles to be acid-etch frosted,” Marchese says, adding that ABA’s selection of droppers, treatment pumps and spray pumps also help with quick differentiation. “The bottle might be very common, but if the customer is paring that with a custom color spray pump it will stand out on the shelf.”
Using stock glass bottles, says Marchese, is inherently easy on lead times. “We can take that one clear bottle and make it unique for ten different customers using an array of different decoration,” she says, whether that deco takes the form of spray (opaque, transparent, gradient, etc.), acid etching, silk screening or hot stamping.
Deco options carry different lead times so if customers can be open to different customizations they might enjoy faster turnaround times, Marchese says. “For example, to spray a glass bottle a custom color or do an acid-etch frost on a glass bottle, we are currently running at about 3-4 weeks from approval of pre-production samples,” she explains. “Alternatively, if the customer wants to print their glass bottle, timing might run closer to 4-5 weeks from receipt of approval. If a customer wants something with a colored background and printed, their fastest option might be to do a label than to have the glass sprayed and printed.”
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact global business, beauty packaging suppliers are working to find ways to work around the delays caused by shutdowns and quarantines.
The virus’s ripple effect is hitting close to home for Allta, a NY-based turnkey manufacturer that maintains facilities in China. “The hardest part has been getting approvals, testing and licensing before being able to reopen in China,” says the company’s Berkman. “The other important component of that is the people coming back to work from different quarantined cities–it’s a situation that’s really affected our world.”
As a custom-only color cosmetics company, Allta doesn’t have stock inventory, it has ready-to-use raw materials so its global customers can have fast bespoke packaging flexibility. Berkman says its turnkey products can be turned around in roughly six weeks (following PPS approval of formula and packaging) and packaging turnaround alone is four weeks. “It’s about being able to pull the trigger quickly and the basis of that is great communication on both sides,” he says. “Being in China, we have the benefit of a 12-hour cycle, meaning customers can have all of their questions answered instantaneously to speed up the situation.”
Stock packaging suppliers are another way to circumvent delays. “Stock packaging is allowing continuity for beauty brands during the limitations imposed by the global spread of Coronavirus [and] we are seeing a surge in requests for in-stock items due to the delays in China,” says East Hill’s James.
“Situations like this demonstrate how in-stock or locally-made items are a real strength,” adds James.