The Formula for the New Packaging for Luxury Cosmetics

19 Feb 2021

Technology and design are fundamental ingredients when developing proper packaging for luxury cosmetics. Here is what you need to know.

Innovation, Sustainability and Personalisation: The Formula for the New Packaging for Luxury Cosmetics

Feeling unique. That is what today’s luxury cosmetics consumers want. With physical contact and product demonstrations at an all-time low, how can brands seduce the increasingly demanding customers? There is a key element that comes into play in online shopping, i.e., packaging for cosmetics, as it is the very first moment of physical contact with the product. 

Thanks to digital printing technologies, the creative possibilities, personalisation options, and agility in design and manufacture of packaging for luxury cosmetics have increased. Let us take a look at the new opportunities that have opened up for cosmetics brands to innovate in this field.


Technology at the service of the customer’s experience: luxury packaging trends in the cosmetics industry

Digital printing unlocks an endless world of creative possibilities for cosmetics packaging since it enables the following: 

1. Involving the customer in the packaging selection 

Thanks to the development of 3D digital mock-ups, we can outline and define the final design of the cosmetic’s packaging with greater precision. And that isn’t its only feature. Digital printing techniques can be used to create these prototypes. This way, the final decision of the brand manager and their team is based on packaging that they can actually see, smell, and feel.

Another option is to let the customers themselves decide which packaging version they would rather keep. Since this allows us to operate in short print runs, digital printing facilitates the implementation of market studies and surveys to evaluate the acceptance of one type of packaging or another by the brand’s target public.

2. Creating uniquely customised packaging

The very instant when the parcel arrives at home is truly magical. In the world of e-commerce cosmetics, there is nothing more anticipated than unboxing the products—when you can finally try them and feel them with your own hands.

The agility and flexibility gained from digital printing has removed numerous barriers in terms of organising marketing actions that connect with the brand’s target audience through the packaging. Now it is even possible to produce more limited and personalised print runs at an affordable cost. 

There are several ways of cultivating this special relationship with personalised packaging. For example, cosmetics brands can launch the following campaigns:

1. Limited and numbered editions: packaging then becomes an object of desire for customers since the product's exclusivity is assured. 

2. Special collaborations with influencers, celebrities, or even other companies from related industries. For instance, collaborations between cosmetics and fashion brands are quite common. In this context, it can be quite useful to develop packaging designs that unite the essences of both brands, making the user perceive an added value.

One of the great advantages of digital printing is the sheer speed at which cases are produced, meaning that their manufacture does not slow down the launching of new cosmetics. This enables brands to react very quickly when spontaneous collaborations arise, or products are developed in response to emerging customer needs.

Packaging for cosmetics contributes to the optimisation of the company’s logistics and nurtures the brand's customer relationship

3. Developing more accessible, inclusive and sustainable packaging

It is usually necessary to take a step back and observe if the way the values that the company wishes to convey to its customers are actually being reflected in the different aspects that make up the universe of inspirational brands, such as luxury cosmetics. 

One key aspect in this context is sustainability. In fact, according to Statista, more than half of the women surveyed has already stated that sustainability determines their choice of cosmetics. Customer perception is not only focused on ingredients: packaging must be consistent with the principles that the brand stands for. To name one example, a recent trend consists in getting rid of plastic or unnecessarily numerous layers of packaging, while also opting for folding cartons from environmentally responsible sources.

On the other hand, new printing technologies make it easier to design more inclusive packaging, e.g. through the insertion of Braille labelling, or the use of clean fonts that do not hinder access to information for people with visual or cognitive impairments. 

4. Protecting the consumer against fraud

According to data published by the EUIPO, each year the cosmetics industry suffers a loss of 7.8% of their total sales due to counterfeit products, where luxury cosmetics are being heavily affected. Not only does this have a significant economic impact, but it also poses a potential health risk for customers.

Is there any way to prevent this? The answer lies within the serialisation and coding of cosmetics packaging. In this respect, it would be interesting to consider the measures against counterfeit medicines that are being taken at European level and to apply this acquired know-how to the luxury cosmetics industry. 

5. Highlighting the quality of the product

Quality packaging requires that the outer finish and the precision of the printing techniques used are in line with the expectations placed on the cosmetics brand. At first, this quality is only perceived by the customer, but a very effective marketing strategy is to use social media as a platform for getting the message across to other like-minded users. 

Brands can encourage customer engagement by including elements such as hashtags or QR codes on the packaging. Through a physical medium—the packaging itself—the user is invited to become part of the brand’s digital community, either by sharing their photos or experiences with the product, by downloading the app or by participating in competitions for exclusive prizes. 


6. Creating memorable experiences in physical shops

In the short term, customers are looking for security and agility when they go to a shop to buy their cosmetic products. However, in the medium to long term, creating unique in-store experiences will be key to boosting offline sales when facing the booming e-commerce services.

The originality of packaging adapted to the points of purchase brings interesting advantages to win over customers who are already used to shopping online. It is therefore an essential element to differentiate yourself from competitors in physical shops and to persuade an already over-stimulated public. 

Cosmetics packaging plays a key role in the physical points of sale


Exentrique and Essentra, a case study of quality packaging for cosmetics

Exentrique is a different kind of cosmetics brand. It was born inclusive, vegan, animal cruelty-free, and in rebellion against unattainable socially imposed beauty standards. Its hashtag, #BeExentrique, is a call for diversity and mutual respect on social media.

When Exentrique contacted Essentra, an important requirement was that the packaging of these skincare products should reflect the clearly defined brand identity. In addition, Exentrique operates primarily online with direct shipments to its customers, so this aspect was very much taken into account during the packaging design. 

Thus, Essentra's Design Hub proposal for Exentrique's packaging included:

- A glue-free folding carton to meet the brand’s sustainability standards. 

- A clean and minimalist design with a prominent brand presence, in contrast to the creativity explosion that lies within the case.

- The rest of the materials were conceived respecting the aesthetics of the brand and the need to communicate the hashtag #BeExentrique.

The union between technology and creativity allows us to provide a comprehensive response to the needs of the beauty industry in terms of packaging for cosmetics. Whether you want to renew your brand’s packaging or if you are developing a new product, Essentra can help you. Contact us and our team of specialists will study your case to offer you a personalised solution.