The beauty and cosmetics industry is staggeringly huge.
Globally, the industry is worth over $500 billion with skincare being the most profitable. Then it should be of no surprise to you that 45% of beauty videos on YouTube are makeup tutorials, or that L’oreal’s revenue in 2018 topped $31.2 billion USD.
But that doesn’t mean that smaller brands can’t thrive – quite the opposite in fact. Society is becoming more and more aware of what we put into – and onto – our bodies.
And cosmetics are no exception.
This shift in consumerism makes it possible for smaller brands with values different to massive corporations to take a nice slice of the market.
Organic skincare brands, natural moisturisers and sustainable ingredients are unique selling points that the consumer wants to be a part of.
Furthermore, the success of D2C brands (Direct To Customer) like Glossier and subscription boxes like BirchBox and Ipsy have only solidified the power of the internet as the best way to build up a customer base.
But with competition as fierce as it is, building that loyal and engaged community around your brand can be tricky. But whether you’re selling in-store or online, there’s one physical touchpoint that comes first.
In this article, you’ll see:
But before we dive right in to design, there’s a topic that’s becoming more and more important in the world of cosmetics:
More consumers are putting their faith in smaller brands that use natural ingredients in their cosmetics.
In this day and age, a cosmetic product that makes you look/feel/smell/taste good is important.
But what’s becoming ever more important is what that product is made of and what that product is packaged in.
The complete banning of microbeads was a step in the right direction, and this happened for two reasons.
What’s more, in the modern ‘call-out culture’ we live in, both big and small brands are being held accountable by their consumers.
Read more: Consumer trends to watch in DTC ecommerce
This is seeing massive cosmetic brands like Unilever take a step towards being more sustainable.
And if your brand doesn’t work sustainability into both the raw product and its packaging, you’ll get left behind.
Here are a few sustainability tips to keep in mind when designing packaging for your cosmetics brand:
Sustainability in the cosmetics industry has come along way. However, consistent innovation by both large and small brands will keep it heading in the right direction.
Now that you’re aware of the relationship between sustainability and the cosmetics industry, take a look at what’s needed to start designing your own cosmetics packaging.
Read more: DTC Beauty brands report by Metrilo
There are a few fundamentals to know about packaging design before you dive in and start getting creative:
Chances are that you’ve spent a lot of time, effort (and money) on your branding. So it’s only logical that you take your current design assets (logos, imagery, colour palette) and use that as the basis of your packaging design.
In the below image, you can see how Polish cosmetics brand Zojo Elixers create consistent branding between their delivery packaging and the product packaging.
What does your brand say about you?
Are you bright, loud and in your face, or are you more subtle, calm and subdued?
Who you are and what brand values you portray to your customers is going to have a huge influence on your cosmetic packaging design.
Are your customer’s burly men who are looking to repair skin that’s never had attention?
Are you trying to appeal to health-conscious women who just want chemical-free cosmetics?
Do you want to attract teens, besotted by glittery shiny things?
Like all things in the world of marketing, you need to know who you’re appealing to. An in-depth picture of your ideal customer, along with your branding, is going to help you create the best possible packaging for your cosmetics.
Read more: How to define your target market
In order to design the beautiful cosmetic packaging, you need to decide on the actual packaging that you’ll use.
Depending on where you sell your products and how you get them to your customer, there are different types of packaging you’ll need to use.
Whether you’re selling in-store, online or both, you’ll need the following:
Product packaging is the vessel that contains the raw product. The pump bottle that holds your soap, the tube that contains the moisturizer, etc.
Inner packaging is the packaging that holds the product packaging, like the thin box that mascara or lipstick comes in.
Delivery packaging is the first piece of packaging your customer interacts with then they get the product home. This may be in the form of custom printed paper bags for a retail store, or custom printed mailer box if you’re an ecommerce brand.
So, what options are out there for each type?
Fortunately (or unfortunately), there are some pretty standard forms of product packaging in the cosmetic industry. Your brand might get some unwanted attention if your to decide to put your liquid soap into a tub that’s traditionally used for moisturizers.
Think lipstick, mascara, foundation, highlighter, bronzer – don’t go trying to reinvent the wheel with packaging for these items.
For everything else, there’s a huge number of options out there for you.
Pump bottles are fantastic for soaps and washes, while smaller pump bottles or glass dropper bottles work well for oils and serums.
Below, you can see how TheGroomedManCo uses a pump bottle for their cleanser gel.
Concentrated blends of hair spray can also be used in dropper bottles, but are more commonly diluted and used with spray bottles.
Jars and plastic tubs are used larger quantities of moisturizers or body butter of the like.
For both retail and online stores, your inner packaging is really what ‘sells’ the product. In a retail store, this is the medium where a customer will ‘read’ about your product before trying it. In most cases, it’s a standard square box.
But that’s not to say it must be a square box. World famous soap brand, Imperial leather has leveraged the shape of their cake of soap and copied onto their inner packaging.
Think about the shape of your product and a unique way that you can put something around it.
More often than not, inner packaging for cosmetics doesn’t have to be overly protective, as the product packaging has done its job – so you’re free to experiment with eye-catching shapes and materials!
Delivery packaging is the only piece of the puzzle that varies for online or instore selling.
The most common form of delivery packaging for a retail store is a custom paper bag.
A well-designed paper bag can help turn your customer into a walking billboard as they go about their shopping spree elsewhere in a crowded mall or shopping centre.
For the ecommerce or subscription box brand, a sturdy mailer box is a common solution.
The three layers of corrugated cardboard mean that the content of the box (i.e. your product) will stay safe when being thrown around by a wreckless delivery guy.
Furthermore, it’s also a large, blank canvas for you to remind your online shopper why they brought from you, by listing your USPs, echoing your branding, and creating a bit of an unboxing experience around your cosmetics.
Now that you have your branding and your customer defined, and you know the best type of packaging for your product, it’s time to look at a few necessary labels.
Depending on where your product is being sold, there may be legal markings that you have to put on your packaging. The EU and FDA have a number of obligatory markings that need to be present on both the product and the packaging.
Here’s a brief overview of what means what in the world of packaging symbols.
There are of course many other symbols that can help you build a rapport with your customer. The ‘cruelty-free’ love bunny, for example.
Consider things like:
Now that you’ve got everything that you need to have on your cosmetics packaging, it’s time to get creative!
Here are a handful of various small cosmetic companies with unique packaging to help you get an idea of what’s out there!
Oase, a company that sells quality supplements for hair health have some incredible packaging.
It’s minimalist and uses a simple colour that complements the deep red colour of the tablets.
Yope Soap is a company that makes fresh, intense and fun smelling soap, covering a variety of fruits, plants and other smells that give your day a little bit of pep.
As you can see, they carry that same happy, bright and positive attitude into their product packaging.
Bonus points to Yope, as their packaging is also function. It secures 3 bottles in one package with a carry handle, meaning there’s no need for a plastic bag. The company also offers discounted refills if you take your empty soap bottles in store.
Next up is Kire Skin, a company that prides itself on simple skincare with nothing but quality ingredients.
That concept of simplicity is carried over onto the label of its products, and again onto the packaging that holds together, its box sets.
The Old Norse is a men’s skincare company that focuses on beard products and body washes. To maintain the Viking image, they’ve used the natural cardboard kraft texture with simple black print to tie the brand’s image onto the product packaging.
Combine all these natural colours, textures and shapes with some void filler in for the of wood wool, and you’ve got a complete and coherent buying experience for a small ecommerce brand.
John Masters, a British Skincare Company, created a limited edition range of shampoo and conditioners over Christmas to showcase the scents that are synonymous with that time of year. The smells are subtle but familiar and bring you back home.
These emotions are copied into the packaging in the form of muted colours and a handwritten font.
The cosmetics industry presents many challenges and opportunities. Small brands are easy to come by, as are quality products – but it’s not always easy to create brand loyalty and keep customers coming back time after time after time.
With a little creative packaging, you can set the stage for your customer to fall in love with your cosmetics, rather than simply being another consumer of your goods. There’s plenty of creative opportunity out there!
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