5 Ways to Innovate Beauty Packaging in 2021

5 Ways to Innovate Beauty Packaging in 2021

Posted 18 January by Katie Kubrak

Through 2020, the beauty industry saw its reliance on physical retail severely stress-tested. A combination of government intervention and upended consumer habits, necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, forced the closure of up to 30 per cent – by some estimates – of in-person beauty retail locations.

Speaking to Cosmetics Design Europe on the Beauty 4.0 Podcast recently, Simon Hathaway, EMEA MD of retail strategy agency Outform, describes the rapid shift that beauty brands and retailers have undergone as a result of the pandemic, as they have moved on to embrace e-commerce and innovative digital technologies that enhance the customer experience.

The challenge, of course, is how to convey the tactility of beauty – the smells, the colours, the looks – in a world that is digital-first.

In this world, the way your brand expresses itself, and the way your audiences experiences your brand, are central to continued success.

And because physical touchpoints are few and far between, there is a clear opportunity for intelligent packaging design to step in and provide at least some of the heavy lifting – whether that’s by enhancing experiences, personalising the customer journey, or allowing your brand to tell a sustainable story. Remember: packaging is much more than a vessel for your product.

Below are 5 recommendations from Nirvana CPH that we believe can help beauty brands, agencies and designers deliver smart, beautiful and sustainable packaging solutions, through 2021 and beyond.


1. Adopt a CMF Design Mindset

Did you know that roughly 70% of innovations on the market come from advances within colours, materials and finishes?

However, many companies still direct the majority of R&D investment into new products, leaving packaging manufacturers to think about material development. Manufacturers, however, are estimated to devote only 1-2 % of their turnover to R&D – not much, if you ask us.

We believe that brand image is best expressed through a customised selection of colours, materials and finishes within your packaging. These can be used creatively, as a unique identifier that builds brand recognition and long-term loyalty. And, from a commercial standpoint, material ownership provides long-term cost savings.

CMF Design, CMF, Colours, Materials, Finishes, Sustainable Materials, Materials Design, Materials Futures
Image Courtesy of Jess Harper


2. Introduce First-In-Product-Category Finishes

Be the first to use new or established finishes that were not previously applied within your product category.

Printed electronics have been successfully used in cards and often conceptualised in packaging. So far, though, the examples we’ve seen have been gimmicky, mainly targeted at the alcohol industry and point-of-sale solutions.

CYBER EDP perfume bottle, introduced by Berlin-based Look Labs studio earlier this month, translates this novel interaction into a high-end perfume bottle packaging.

The premium label encourages the user to press the power button for the name ‘CYBER’ to light up in red. It is made from paper, printed electronics (battery and sensor) and OLED technology. The label is entirely self-powered, and is said to be good for around 500 interactions with the consumer.

Video Courtesy of Look Labs


3. Connect to the Internet of Things

Empower your brand with the newest IoT platform solutions that can help your brand to demonstrate supply chain transparency, while creating a new generation of measurable consumer engagements.

These can be used in a number of creative ways. Cult Beauty curated a ‘conscious edit’, which is informative to shoppers, while providing brands and their own team with proven data and insights.

Connected packaging can also help consumers to understand the beauty product inside it. By embedding QR or NFC technologies within secondary or primary packaging, cosmetic brands can convey product-specific information about ingredients, use or disposal that appear on a consumer’s mobile device.

As each IoT packaging product is assigned a digital identity, your creative team can also quickly learn which interactions users are most interested in using and which are simply avoided. By incorporating agility into your creative practices, these insights can assist your design teams in formulating the most effective way to tell your brand story.

Image Courtesy of Cult Beauty – Conscious Edit, Recyclables
Image Courtesy of Blue Bite


4. Take a Fresh Look at Personalisation Technologies

With many face-to-face beauty businesses disrupted by the pandemic, custom beauty and stay-at-home DIY wellness solutions have begun to emerge more rapidly than ever.

Some of the key products introduced at not-to-be-missed CES 2021, which build on this trend, include L’Oréal’s Yves Saint Laurent Beauté Rouge Sur Mesure Powered by Perso. Through a state-of-the-art technology and an app, a consumer can create personalised lip shades to match an outfit or colour that is currently trending on social media.

In a market that continues its march towards personalisation, your packaging can also be customised to this extent and contribute towards your brand-building efforts.

Variable data printing (VDP) and variable image printing (VIP) are production methods that can be utilised to better tailor communications on printed surfaces.

As it is a digital printing process, creative elements such as graphics, text and images may be changed from one package to the next, without the need for costly, time-consuming plate changes.

The result is that, in a production run of 10,000 pieces, each one can carry a unique design.

What’s more, this technology can prove useful if you wish to marry your packaging with a unique digital identity, either by adding a visible QR code, or to enhance security through the addition of hidden watermark.

As a result, this practice can help you boost performance across competitor differentiation, customer engagement, supply chain efficiencies and track-and-trace for the security and authentication of your products.

Video courtesy of L’Oréal Group, Yves Saint Laurent and Perso


5. Tell a Sustainable Story

Innovation can reduce brands’ reliance on virgin materials, which can be expensive to produce and process. By some estimates, brands in the FMCG sector stand to save $700 billion by repurposing waste into materials that can then be given a second life as marketing collateral such as packaging.

Done well, however, the repurposing of waste from supply chains provides an opportunity for brands to tell a unique and compelling story – one that demonstrates transparency and responsibility, and which breaks the traditional, linear cycle of production and consumption.

That’s exactly what L’Oréal Italia set out to do, when they partnered with Italian paper manufacturer ICMA to produce a bespoke material from industrial packaging waste.

Second Life, resulting paper, serves as a pioneering example of how, in an effort to achieve more circular material flows, a brand identified a viable waste source and sought out a relevant partner to reduce its consumption of virgin resources.

Follow this link to read more in-dept information about this case study in one of our articles, which was part of “The most sustainable papers for 2021” series.

Lancome, L'Oreal Italia, L'Oreal, Packaging, Second Life Paper, ICMA, Sustainability
Image Courtesy of ICMA and L’Oréal Italia

If you like featured innovations and require further information, please contact info@nirvanacph.com. We’ll be more than happy to help you tell your brand’s sustainable story through the use of state-of-the-art innovations.