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Q&A: Lisa Payne on Packaging Futures 2017/18

Our beauty editor explains the concepts behind Stylus’ new Industry Trend Packaging Futures 2017/18, particularly how luxury and the everyday are finding common ground in tackling waste culture.

Lisa Payne, Stylus’ Beauty editor, explains how today’s consumer is driving brands towards more sustainable and innovative packaging – as discussed in new trend report Packaging Futures 2017/18.

What’s hot in beauty packaging right now?

“Packaging is such an important factor in the way that consumers view a product’s value, and it offers so much experiential opportunity too. Clever brands are updating their packaging to include more of a sensorial layer.

“For example, Japanese brand Kanebo has released a beauty whip soap that sold out in Japan and America due to a really simple concept. The foam soap comes in a can, and releases in the form of a rose; it’s had a lot of Instagram attention. Beauty packaging now is about creating something that is highly Instagrammable.

“This is where I think a lot of beauty brands should be focusing their attention, because beauty is such a physical experience. Cleansing and moisturising is about enhancing that feel good element, that feeling of fun.”

Why is packaging so important?

“Packaging is especially crucial for beauty brands because it’s the first step in the visual and physical journey the consumer takes through to the product use. If they perceive the packaging as less than they expect - especially if they’re spending a lot of money it - then they have less faith in it.

“So the way that people feel about your packaging affects how they think your product works. It’s an important step for brands to consider, in terms of the feel or the stack of the paper, how the product opens and closes, the appeal of that.”

How is packaging evolving?

“In luxury we’re seeing a lot more focus on product packaging as an art form. For example, Christian Louboutin has just released its latest fragrance in a bottle designed by architect Thomas Heatherwick. The idea was that after the product had been finished, because the bottle was so intricate and beautiful, users would want to keep it to display in their home afterwards. Heatherwick intended the pieces to be seen as objet d'art rather than packaging.

“This move towards more intricate pieces for perfume bottles opens up an interesting conversation around product packaging which goes beyond the life of the product, which then leads to a conversation about disposable packaging and recycling.”

Speaking of which, how is sustainability factoring into packaging trends? Has its significance as a concern increased?

“Absolutely, sustainability is massive. As society becomes aware of the problems of throwaway packaging, it becomes more of a concern for consumers. I think there’s definitely a generational shift; older consumers are more inclined to feel like it’s their right to have a throwaway culture because they deserve it. But the younger generation know how bad the problem is, and they’ve grown up knowing that they have a responsibility towards the planet.

“As we move on, and as that younger consumer ages, we’re going to see more focus on sustainability. Packaging is a great way for consumers to impact the environment positively. People aren’t going to buy products that cause landfill issues when they know that there’s another option.”

Is beauty packaging inspiring wider packaging trends?

“Different categories do invariably influence each other. The cushion compact is a good example of an innovation that could cross departments. It’s a foundation that comes soaked up in a sponge and it’s the first thing in a while that we’ve seen that completely changes the way we apply foundation. That has implications for other categories, like medicine and food. Brands might think about incorporating a pre-soaked sponge with a drink for example which makes the conversation about on-the-go consumables a lot more interesting.”

What does the future of beauty packaging look like?

“It’s about adding an experiential layer. The US brand Boscia has created this incredible jelly-ball cleanser with charcoal in it shaped like a perfectly spherical ball. It’s made of a hard jelly that seems very bouncy and weird, not something you’d use to clean your face with. When the package first arrives it comes in a plastic egg crate with a balloon around it and a pin. The first thing you have to do is pop the balloon to release the product. The plastic holder then acts as somewhere to store the cleanser. This ritualistic experience of piercing the balloon and opening up the product makes the user feel excited. It’s not something that’s infinitely more expensive for brands to consider, just an ingenious way to engage consumers. A lot of brands are forgetting that the packaging and ritual of opening a product can drastically affect how the consumer feels about it.”

What’s your favourite ever piece of packaging?

“In the latest collection of Christian Louboutin makeup, they’ve taken the red heel concept and applied it to a ridiculously impractical application device. They’ve attached a big black spike to the top of lipsticks, nail varnishes and eyeshadows. You can’t put it in a draw, you can’t carry it on the Tube, but it’s a beautiful item in itself. So you would have it on the dresser and look forward to using it every day, because it’s an exciting experience and has a luxurious appeal. I think there’s a lot of space for brands to start creating more exciting packaging like this, beautifully designed, and made to be looked at, not hidden away in a draw.”

If you’re a Stylus member, you can read Packaging Futures 2017/18 now. If you’re not, and you’d like to find out more about the benefits of membership, get in touch.