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From inventive twists in packaging on classic beauty offerings, this season’s giftable products promise more than just performance.

Existing fragrances have been packaged in unusual forms to give the brands new life in a saturated market. Marc Jacobs’ Solid Perfume Pendant Pin, containing a solid version of the Daisy fragrance, can be worn on a lapel or as a necklace, while Michael Kors’ Very Hollywood Pen writes with Very Hollywood scented ink. “The consumer is making more meaningful choices,” said Karen Grant, vice president and global industry expert at the NPD Group. “She’s looking for innovation, novelty, packaging and the way it is being delivered.”

At the end of October, Romano Ricci, grandson of Nina Ricci, will introduce Juliette Has a Gun, a roll-on, rechargeable scent, housed in a sleek bullet flacon. Although the fragrance category as a whole is on the decline, Grant said new launches and niche fragrances are showing even double-digit growth. She said consumers are responding to newness, which is driving pockets of growth within declining beauty categories. To that end, Diesel will launch a limited edition of Only the Brave fragrance with a funky holiday makeover, created by Bunka, who illustrates toys. “Just having the design element and the fun, something collectable adds interest,” said Grant, who added that many limited edition offerings are successful.

At Sephora, Allison Slater, vice president of retail marketing, observed, “We are seeing innovative collections that feature the brands’ bestsellers with ornate packaging, from reusable bags and clutches [such as from YSL Beauté, Lorac and Dior], to limited edition keepsake boxes [Make Up For Ever and Philosophy]. Another hot focus this year is holiday packaging that breaks apart and allows multiple gifting [Korres, Fresh and Nars].” She noted a hot seller is Sephora’s 12-bottle fragrance samplers for men and women. A coupon is included, which allows the recipient to “redeem a full-size bottle of their choice,” she added.

When it comes to makeup, brands are elevating packaging for a new twist on basic beauty. To that end, YSL’s holiday offering is a weighted compact that features two soft shades for eyes or lips. “We are seeing that the makeup category is particularly impacted by the packaging and feeling of newness,” said Grant. “The category itself is down by 7 percent, but sales are up with new products.”

Nars, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this winter, will introduce a glistening red tone on the packaging of its limited edition compacts for the first time in its history. “It’s about finding ways to reintroduce existing products,” said Grant.

For the fanciful packaging of its 2009 holiday collection, Shu Uemura tapped the talents of Japanese fashion designer Tsumori Chisato. “Partnerships can be very successful because they provide a different point of view,” said Grant.

Basic gadgets and tools also excite the imagination with designs inspired by animals, dolls and the winter season. Because many women have dialed down their salon and spa visits, Grant said there is an opportunity for companies to reel in a beauty customer who’s hungry for innovation and distinctiveness. “Consumers are doing more at home and they don’t want to feel like they are missing out,” said Grant. “They come in looking for a straightener or curling iron and will leave with the one that catches their eye.”

How to create innovation in a saturated market? Grant puts it plainly: “Give a reason to buy.” Sephora’s Slater noted that “a common misconception of functionality in the beauty world is that it lacks fun and frivolity.” However, she pointed to brands ranging from Clarisonic Mia and Temptu Airbrush System to the Michael Kors Very Hollywood perfume ring, which provide “a happy place between practicality and personality.”

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