NEW YORK — This week’s LuxePack New York packaging exposition proved that while transparency may still challenge many in corporate America, the cosmetics packaging industry is using it to its advantage — at least when it comes to showcasing product.

Of all the trends in beauty packaging today, transparency, or the use of clear materials to make product highly visible at point of purchase, was foremost on the minds of many of the 38 exhibitors at LuxePack New York, a first-time version of the established Monaco show of the same name. Organizers said 778 industry professionals attended the New York show, which took place Tuesday and Wednesday.

“There’s a trend toward allowing customers to see products,” said Jennifer Chouraqui, principal of Raffypack, the U.S. arm of France-based Ileos Group’s folding carton division, Alliora. Raffypack will soon be known as Alliora, an initiative by parent Ileos to bring its folding carton and set box operations under one name. Earlier this year Alliora assumed packaging rights for the DKNY line of fragrances, which means it’s now manufacturing secondary packaging — the folding carton and polyethelyne terephthalate sliding sheath — for the fragrances.

“Marketers spend a lot on primary packaging,” said Patrick McGee, marketing manager for AGI Klearfold, “but if you’re putting it in paperboard and customers can’t see it, it [negates] all the effort put into the primary package.” AGI Klearfold makes both plastic and paperboard packaging and has clients such as Stila Cosmetics and Linda Cantello.

Another trend cited by both Alliora’s Chouraqui and AGI Klearfold’s McGee is a wider use of plastics by both prestige and mass beauty marketers. The trend is also affecting other sectors that have traditionally used paperboard — namely, the boxes used by toothpaste marketers. For instance, GlaxoSmithKline went the more expensive route of a plastic box to differentiate items in its Aquafresh brand, a move from which beauty marketers can learn, observers noted.

One proponent of differentiation via packaging is Mitchell S. Kaneff, chief executive officer of Arkay Packaging Corporation. During a panel called “Design: The New Currency” — one of two panels during the show — Kaneff cited research indicating that as many as 30,000 products fight for the attention of a consumer on an average shopping trip. Often, products have only one-sixth of a second to connect with a consumer, he said. Two-thirds of products are not noticed at all, he added, and 75 percent of all buying decisions are made at point of purchase despite television and print advertising. “Packaging is the product at point of purchase,” Kaneff emphasized, “and [packaging] design has to sell that product.”Combining tones like white and blue can “add vibrancy and stand out in mass,” according to Marc Tannenbaum, vice president of marketing for paperboard producer Meadwestvaco.

“Consumers have a category in mind” when they walk into a store, “but not often a brand,” said panelist Scott Corzine, chief executive of Design2Launch, an information technology platform designed to help automate product development. “[They] are waiting for the presentation at point of purchase, then they go this way or that way.”

The look of packaging in the mass and class arenas, which historically has been quite different, is growing similar, according to Paul DeBiasse, vice president of sales for Heinz Glas USA Inc. With improvements in mass market packaging, “high end and mass are meeting,” said DeBiasse, “and it’s being called ‘masstige.’”

The injection of transparent acrylic to create packaging is a recent breakthrough in the fragrance realm, according to Pierre-Yves Azuelos, general manager of Dapy Paris, which sells secondary packaging for gift sets. The big hurdle had been preventing cracking in the acrylic, he said, which is caused by alcohol and other ingredients in fragrance’s juice. “Nobody could master acrylic injection for fragrance [without breakdown]” he said. Azuelos claimed a patented process by Dapy Paris has succeeded in doing just that. The process, which involves temperature variations, was applied to packaging for Roberto Verino’s fragrance, “VV,” which launched in Spain earlier this year.

TechPack, which produces packaging mainly for cosmetics but also for fragrance, skin care and hair care, is shifting its strategy to focus more on the fragrance portion of its business, specifically in the area of closures, or lids. “That’s something we really want to focus on in the future,” said Jean-Charles Forster, international sales manager. “We feel it’s an untapped market in the U.S.” As a start, TechPack did the transparent-by-design Gucci Eau de Parfum closure. The transparent top is actually two “bi-injected” pieces of plastic that seamlessly fit together, Forster noted, giving the lid a snap-on fit.

Transparency has even entered the sampling arena, as Arcade Marketing’s vice president of sales, Mary S. Weiser, pointed out. Weiser showcased Arcade’s clear window packets, which allow consumers to judge foundation shades before snapping up the single-application units. The technology is called Liqi-Seal, which is new this year and Mary Kay is at least one cosmetics marketer to have signed on. Weiser said that sample sizes have translated into trial-by-purchase items at entry-level price points of between $4 and $5. “What used to be a sample is now a product sold,” she said, citing a fragrance and lotion trial set the company produced for Banana Republic.Pierre-Yves Maisonneuve, president and chief executive of LuxePack Monaco, plans to make New York an annual event. Next year, it will be held on June 8 and 9, again right after the FiFi’s, a strategy with a practical side — to catch “high-level people” while they are in town, Maisonneuve said.

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