Lauder, chairman of the Estée Lauder Companies, told the New York Times in 2008 that he noticed that his company’s lipstick sales were higher than usual after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Lauder believed that women were taking steps – either consciously or subconsciously – to look better, and therefore, feel better.
“When things are shaky,” Lauder told the Times, “sales increase as women boost their mood with inexpensive lipstick purchases instead of $500 slingbacks.”
More recently, Reuters reported that researchers in Texas have found that the downturn in the economy has had a positive effect on the beauty industry. Dubbed the “lipstick effect,” there has historically been a marked increase in beauty and personal care items during times of high stress or economic concern.
“Although both men and women downsize consumer spending in response to recession cues, there is an exception to this, and that is beauty products,” said Sarah Hill, assistant professor of social psychology at Texas Christian University, to Reuters.
A global-scale recession is hardly good news for a converter, supplier or brand owner, but knowing that there is steady work in at least one sector has been a comfort – if not a savior – for many. In order to stay in touch with this emotional market, beauty and personal care brand owners have had to stay in tune with consumer needs and wants, in addition to overall trends.
Seeing the beauty in green
Mintel Beauty Innovation – a supplier of consumer, product and media information based in Chicago, IL, USA – has kept a close watch on connections between the economy and trends in the beauty market. The firm predicted in 2010 that one of the top trends in the market would be “mood beauty,” which it defined as the intersection of psychology and well-being with beauty products that offer psychological benefits and ingredients.
A year later, Mintel predicted that 2011’s primary trend would be “down to Earth” products and packaging. “Closely linked with sustainability, the ‘down to Earth’ trend addresses the practicalities of making and marketing green beauty,” the company said in a statement.
Patrick Goss, prime business director at UPM Raflatac, says that this trend is echoed all the way through the supply chain. “Our customers are more conscious of sustainability now than in years past,” he says. “This is evident in the renewed interest in thinner facestocks and liners, and growing action to recycle liner waste.”
The strong demand for more eco-friendly materials has put pressure on suppliers, and Kathy Popovich, director of marketing and communications at Innovative Labeling Solutions (ILS), a converter based in Hamilton, OH, USA, says that it’s been a good thing for converters. “The pressure is on for material suppliers to provide thinner, down-gauged materials in response to the sustainability stewardship that most every organization is addressing. Over the past year, substrate portfolios have been getting larger and the prices are becoming more competitive, which is good news.”
Renae Kulis, global market director of home and personal care products at Avery Dennison, says that her customers’ concerns about the environment have prompted the company to launch products specifically to meet end user’s sustainability needs. “Our converter customers are extremely conscious because brand owners, their customers, are pushing them to meet sustainable impact targets and retailer scorecards,” Kulis says. “[As a result], we will be launching our Global HPC Films Portfolio which includes thin polypropylene Global MDO. When you compare Global MDO to Global Co-Ex using Avery Dennison GreenPrint, a life cycle assessment tool, Global MDO produces 23% less solid waste, utilizes 24% less energy and 10% less water to manufacture. This is driven by 20% less material weight and the use of a thinner PET liner. Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 23% as well.”
John McDowell, president of McDowell Label in Plano, TX, USA, says that approximately 65% of his business is in the beauty and personal care market. He also says that sustainability is more than just a trend for his company – it’s a philosophy. “The brand owners we serve often share the same environmental and stewardship goals and objectives that we employ. Our LIFE (Label Initiative for the Environment) progam is a very extensive and robust achievement for those committed and is becoming a prerequisite for those serious about serving this prestigious category. This TLMI certification is becoming the industry standard.”
Trends, technology and materials
In addition to sustainability and eco-friendly trends, Goss at UPM Raflatac notes that a dominant trend is a mover toward lighter weight or downgauged packaging. He says, “This trend has surfaced in the label industry in two forms; the first is large beauty and personal care brand owners are embracing thinner film facestock and liners. The second is the renewed interest in recycling liners, which is under development at UPM Raflatac.”
Popovich of ILS says a trend in beauty and personal care is the continued use of materials, finishes and graphic treatments that support the overall positioning and personality of the brand. “We see it at both ends of the spectrum: natural brands that want to have a handcrafted or natural appeal keep the graphics simple, clean, and use recycled, post-consumer waste or even FSC-certified materials, while other brands want to offer a rich, luxury appeal and use hot stamp, emboss, and specialty substrates to create allure.
“Another trend we see is the creative use of metalized materials for all applications - pressure sensitive labels, flex pack and even folding cartons,” Popovich says.
McDowell says that his company has seen trends such as graphic-intensive designs, combination printing, and “the added criteria of sophisticated prepress technology, which we highly endorse.”
Ashley Obara, marketing coordinator at Dion Label Printing in Westfield, MA, USA, notes that shrink sleeve usage is on the rise in the beauty market. She says, “More beauty and personal care companies are transitioning their packaging design from screen printed containers to shrink sleeves. Shrink sleeves provide for a fully decorated container and eliminate the need for brands to purchase containers of varying colors.”
In addition to those that meet eco-friendly customer requirements, certain materials and processes are more popular than others in this market. Digital printing, clear labels, and high-decoration labels are just a few. Paris Art Label, a converter based in Patchogue, NY, USA, has experienced overall growth of more than 100% in recent years, and approximately 70% of its work is in the beauty and personal care markets. Jonathan Tarantino, vice president of sales, says the company’s most popular materials are “2 mlcb which is 2 mil clear bopp. That material gives a great ‘no label’ look. Although it’s not great for conformability; materials used for tough applications would be PEs or vinyls.”
Goss, of UPM Raflatac, says, “Typical label facestocks are polypropylene, polyethylene, and blended PP/PE films. The technology focus is to make the traditional facestocks thinner to reduce packaging volume. Liners are typically PET film and likewise, the trend is to utilize thinner materials to reduce costs.
Squeezable films are Avery Dennison’s most popular material in this category. Kulis says that while shrink has been on the rise in other categories, the company has seen a hesitancy for shrink for in-shower products. “To this end, we have seen increasing interest in our Curve Appeal technology as it provides nearly 360 coverage without forcing the brand manager to go with shrink. The product offers branding and information expansion with economical value.”
David Puopolo, vice president of sales and marketing at Axiom Label Group in Carson, CA, USA, says that digital printing offers several advantages for this market and has become increasingly popular in recent years. “Digital printing is the largest growth area,” he says. “This technology allows the customer to reproduce a larger amount of SKUs without the heavy up front ancillary costs. Also, with the digital technology advantage, this allows the customer to see press samples on various materials in advance of the production run to gauge which material and combination has the best effect for the package.
“Customers have the ability to choose between four-color to six-color invachrome process to achieve the necessary effect. White can be backed up on super clear and metallic materials to add to the effect. This technology can be added with cold foil and matte or clear laminations for a dramatic effect. Also, with the newest HP Indigo 6000, we have the ability to produce larger quantities of labels and stay comparable to flexo due to the larger frame.”
Segmentation and regulation
Every market has its own set of challenges, and beauty and personal care is no different. Along with consistent work comes the need for quick changes as customers make seasonal, demographic, color and other changes – including those prompted by changes from regulatory agencies.
Puopolo says that the personal care market usually has fewer SKUs and a greater volume point for an entry-level launch. “Often times, active ingredients are added to refresh the line, such as aloe vera or papaya. This market has a different demographic because some marketers sell only to salons and other only sell to retail. The slotting costs and also customer demographic can be more varied than the cosmetic market,” he says.
“The cosmetic (eye shadow, lipstick and lip gloss) and nail color markets have a larger amount of SKUs with color variations,” Puopolo adds. “These are usually quarterly launches made up of seasonal colors. These usually have a launch every season and are required to get to market quicker.”
Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new label information regulations for sun care products. Now, brand owners can no longer make claims like “broad spectrum,” or “water resistant” without undergoing testing. For suppliers, this presented an opportunity to expand their product offerings.
“This new mandate created an opportunity for Avery Dennison to provide Extended Content Labeling and Curve Appeal labeling solutions to meet the regulatory needs of brand owners,” says Kulis, adding, “Our first Curve Appeal application is with Australian Gold.”
Tarantino, of Paris Art Label Co., points out that extended content labels have become a significant trend since the FDA handed down the new regulations, and several of his company’s customers are requesting more panels. Recently, the Paris Art Label completed a 27-panel label for a customer.
Given the consistency of this market, its competitive nature and ever-changing labeling requirements, it’s safe to say that the future of beauty and personal care labeling is bright. As Puopolo of Axiom points out: “With the addition of more men’s products entering the market, it is the largest growth market we see for the future. This is the only market we see that has overall significant movement over all of our press compliments.”