PARIS — The use of materials like recyclable aluminum and biodegradable polymers in cosmetics packaging is important to further promotion of environmental sustainability, experts in the beauty industry agree.

This story first appeared in the December 19, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Moreover, recycling old ideas is not enough to give eco-friendly packaging a fresh and luxurious appearance.

“[Packaging] suppliers are asked to make a technological revolution,” said Marc Giget, chair of technology and innovation at the International Institute of Management in Paris. He noted suppliers are mandated to push boundaries to find materials ever more precious using natural substances that are organic and equitable. “We can break the codes to innovate, but we must dare at the right moment.”

Giget added that a product’s quality, packaging and communication are the three key ingredients to keeping it luxurious.

Seidel, which specializes in aluminum packaging, has developed prototypes of bottles and dispensers made out of aluminum that look like porcelain thanks to a process using nanotechnology. The new techniques grew out of a research project aimed at making the manufacturing process more eco-friendly and sustainable. Aluminum packaging is one way to reduce the pollution generally caused by products made out of heavy metals. The beauty of this, according to Andreas Ritenhoff, president and chief executive officer of Seidel, is that recycling such products is simple.

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Also aiming to make prestige beauty packaging more environmentally sustainable is the Pôle Européen de Plasturgie, an Oyonnax, France-based research, development and technical support facility dedicated to the plastics industry, which is using biodegradable packaging solutions, including plant-fiber composites, said product manager Charlyse Pouteau.

These topics were explored at the second edition of the Pack Passion conference held here by packaging supplier Valois last month, which was attended by about 100 people, including the packaging supplier’s clients, plus designers, consultants and journalists. During the conference, audience members were invited to participate in an experiment meant to illustrate the importance of perceived quality.

Jean-Paul Bauchel, quality and design development process manager at Renault, the French automobile manufacturer, spoke about the so-called perceived quality method and how it could be applied for any product.

According to this approach, a product must make a good first impression and then meet expectations in both in-store testing and then everyday use. Perceived quality requires attractiveness, seduction, innovation and design in order to catch the customer’s eye and to convey the product’s personality, he said. Of course, beneath perceived quality must be true quality.

“One must deliver a good product,” said Bauchel.

Participants rated three coffee makers based on several different criteria, from robustness to ease of use. To test the importance of first impressions, participants were unable to touch the machines at first. It was only after completing the first questionnaire that they were permitted to touch and test the appliances.

Results were such that the all-around favorite based on first impressions alone was different from the machine that won out overall.

So, while cars and coffee machines may seem unrelated to fragrance and cosmetics, audience members left with an important lesson learned: Things aren’t always as perceived, and that aligning perceived quality with actual quality can make all the difference.
— Kate Thornton and Christine Cheng

Sephora Fetes Guetta Scent

PARIS — The Sephora flagship on the Champs-Elysées here turned into a virtual discothèque on Dec. 7 for the appearance of nightclub impresario Cathy Guetta to promote her husband’s new scent, Ibiza Cathy Guetta for Men. Famous for throwing parties together around the world — and most especially in Ibiza — Cathy and her DJ husband David were greeted by fans and paparazzi ready to take part in the fete.

The men’s fragrance was launched a few years after the women’s due to customer demand, said Guetta, adding, “Because the first one was so successful, it was evident we could expand the line.”

“It is created with the base essences of David Guetta; it’s made with the essence for me,” quipped her husband, while Cathy Guetta signed autographs and he spun tunes for the crowd.

The new scent, a fruity, woody amber comes as a 90-ml. eau de toilette spray (packaged in a black-colored disco ball including headphones fit for an aspiring DJ) and is priced at 50 euros, or $71.83 at current exchange. Between tunes, David Guetta took a break and claimed that buying a Cathy Guetta scent makes one “beautiful, rich and famous.” — K. T.