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Right Product, Wrong Package?

By: Michelle Calvarese, PhD
Posted: January 2, 2014, from the January 2014 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 4 of 5

Various skin care ingredients and treatments experience waves of popularity, and packaging practices aren’t any different.

Materials. Sustainability is the latest trend in packaging. “Sustainable” is a broad term and can apply to several processes, such as how raw materials are sourced or how they are manufactured. When in reference to packaging, sustainability typically implies that the package is made from recycled material, is biodegradable or can be recycled. The old standbys of paper and wood are becoming increasingly popular as components of a product’s inner container, not just the outer package or box. Newer materials made from renewable resources are also being introduced. Even a new recyclable airless pump has recently debuted. Airless pumps have been the most difficult to make green due to their mechanical components. There are also more subtle ways that some manufacturers have employed to make their products more sustainable, such as making bottles refillable or simply packaging products in lighter, slimmer containers.

It should be noted, however, that although a product can be “green,” it still has to work and meet all the criteria for a particular product category to be effective. Certain ingredients can also react differently to materials, so some formulas may need to be in a container that is not yet able to be recycled. Therefore, manufacturers need to be sure they are not sacrificing performance for the sake of sustainability.

Recycling incentives. In addition to eco-friendly packaging, some companies have initiated recycling programs that allow clients to bring back their empty bottles, or any component of the package, to the store. Some programs take this one step farther and actually take bottles from any manufacturer and offer small gifts, such as product samples, as an incentive to return container components.

Poor packaging not only degrades the product, but also can contribute to a bad consumer experience that will prevent clients from repurchasing the product—no matter how good the formula. And while defining the brand, packaging must also keep up with consumer demand and trends to ensure success.