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Shifting Priorities for Beauty Product Packaging

Manufacturers are making ever more high-tech and sustainable creations with an eye on speed-to-market.

MONTE CARLO, Monaco – Buzzwords at the recent session of Luxe Pack Monaco, the packaging trade show, were “high-tech,” “speed to market” and “sustainability.”

Using cutting-edge technology was Erpro Group, whose 3-D printing produced Chanel’s recent Revolution mascara brush. “This is really a revolution,” said Sophie Argiolas, a designer at Erporo. “We are the first ones to do this.”

Erpro worked on the project for two years, which included building a factory specifically to produce the brushes. The facility houses six machines, which ran 24 hours a day to produce 8 million brushes within eight months.

The beauty of 3-D printing, she said, is that it’s faster than traditional processes, since no injection molds are needed. “Many things for cosmetics will appear with these techniques,” said Argiolas, who remained mum on any further details, however.

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Inuru was showcasing its patented printed, flexible, organic, light-emitting diodes, which can be embedded in a material as thin as paper and activated with a push sensor.

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Inuru technology
Lighting up with Inuru technology. Courtesy Photo

The company highlighted a second iteration of the technology, which included a movement sensor, so packaging could light up as a person moves toward it. Such technology has not yet hit the market but will within the next few months, with multiple brands outside the beauty space.

Inuru’s chief operating officer Marco Gräber said the future of such technology involves it being able to transport moving images or information, for instance. “So you just update a label with new information and you can stream it,” he said, citing an example using Wi-Fi.

Numerous companies, such as Pochet du Courval, were showcasing digital printing. “It’s totally different from silkscreen or [pad printing] — it’s [four-color], so you can use any colors,” said Caroline de Senechal, a key account manager at the company, adding another innovation is that the technique allows for printing on edges and the inside of bottles.

“You can do lots of different printing with low quantities,” she continued. “So it’s good when you want to launch, for example, a limited edition with 10 different references, with different colors or drawings. You can make 5,000 for each — you don’t have to print directly on 40,000 or 50,000 pieces.”

Agility is key today, especially for indie brands. Albéa has also created turnkey — Fast-Track Beauty — solutions catering to such labels, which generally require short production runs. “The market is changing, so we are trying to adapt,” said Martin Guhl, a key account manager at the company.

Albéa's Fast-Track Beauty packaging
Albéa’s Fast-Track Beauty packaging Courtesy Photo

Now, minimum orders can be greatly reduced. Albéa is able to produce on a per-box basis, with each box containing a few hundred tubes. The company can go up to a run of 9,999 tubes with digital printing and then shift over to bigger industrial production for larger, more traditional, orders.

Lead time is also a priority when it comes to small- and medium-size brands’ constraints. Between when design requests are sent to Albéa and when it sends out finished tubes, the wait time is just four weeks, versus the development period for classic orders of eight to 12 weeks. Reorders take less time for the smaller runs, too.

Given indie brands’ penchant for digital marketing, their needs differ from those of more traditional brands. “We have to think about creating new products to fit their needs, to be original,” said Aptar’s Stéphane Viret, sales director EMEA. “Personalization is one important element. We have to change the paradigm.”

Also at Aptar, as with the majority of packaging companies these days, making creations as sustainable as possible is a must. “Today, regulations are changing. In Europe, for example, there is a new directive saying that by 2025, 65 percent of packaging will have to be [reused],” said Sabine Bouillet, global business development director for personal care at Aptar, explaining that to help reach this threshold, the company is working on sustainable, post-consumer and post-industrial resins.

Its Mezzo airless solutions, for instance, are 100 percent plastic, therefore fully recyclable.

In the recent past, said Bouillet, the talk of sustainability seemed like “only green washing — just to be trendy. But now, it’s becoming key. Consumers are requiring it, and tomorrow they will buy brands that are more respectful of the planet.”

Many multinational beauty makers are aiming farther than the directive, at a goal of having fully sustainable packaging, she said, adding: “It’s really becoming very strategic. We really feel it in the meetings with our customers. Sustainability becomes the main topic.”

Michel Levisse, vice president of innovation and new product development at Verescence, agreed. The company has long created sustainable glass, dubbed Infinite Glass. “Demand is picking up,” he said.

This year, Verescence has been working on a lighter iteration. “We reduced by 28 percent the glass weight,” said Levisse.

“Companies have to act and react very quickly if they want to change the planet or preserve our industry,” said Nathalie Grosdidier, deputy managing director of Idice, Luxe Pack’s organizer. “They know they do not have a choice. And now companies are really proactive to provide solutions for the brands.”

This session, Luxe Pack had for the first time half days of conferences focused on individual themes, such as sustainability and Generation Z. It added a Living Heritage section, with six artisanal brands showing their know-how as well.

The edition registered 9,280 attendees, of whom 53 percent came from outside of France. There were 470 exhibitors, with 55 showing at Luxe Pack for the first time.