It can be surprisingly simple: Change the package and you change the functionality.
Most of the trends we see in cosmetics have to do with the formulation of the product—products that prevent wrinkles, cover flaws, enhance "luminosity," etc. And, for the most part, the packaging we see has a focus on creating an upscale or unusual look and feel.
It is somewhat rarer to see products that have unique packaging that specifically enhances the product itself, whether through application or functionality. But, increasingly, we do see cosmetic packaging that plays an integral role in how the product functions and how consumers use the product itself.
Making an impression
There are quite a few recent products we could use as examples, but three recent ones stand out for their innovation and execution. All three are makeup foundations and, perhaps most importantly, both are positioned and priced for the mass market; thus making unique package functionality affordable and appropriate for all types of consumers.
The first, from Maybelline, is part of the Superstay line of facial color cosmetics. The Superstay line is intended to stay put, not rub off, and not disappear during the course of the day. Its Silky foundation uses an existing package technology in a unique way. The foundation is in a dual-chamber pump dispenser, similar to what we have seen on the market in recent years for sunblock or self-tanners.
This time, the dual-chamber package contains foundation on one side and a "silky coverage extender" on the other side. The company says on front of pack that the two sides (one is tinted, the other is white) combine upon application, so there will be no streaks or uneven coverage. To emphasize this, a tamper-evident adhesive spot that keeps the plastic cap on the product until it is at home reassures the shopper with a benefit message: "Blends in 1 Step." The use of the dual-chamber container conveys a very clear benefit to consumers—that this product has something "extra" compared to other foundations.
The Revlon Custom Creations foundation also has a dual chamber bottle, a pump, and a dial indicator. One chamber has a darker shade foundation, and the other chamber is a lighter shade. The two shades mix at different ratios to create a custom shade. We've seen this dual chamber pump on salad dressings and in this magazine on Dave's Gourmet Hot Sauce (Package Design, Nov/Dec 2006).
This category cross-pollination of package design is possible because the fine, lightweight formula of Revlon's foundation. It not only allows you to customize a look for today, but can change with the seasons and your tan—or not, with its SPF 15 rating. There are six different SKUs, from Fair/Light to Deep, and each has five possible shade settings.
The final product this month comes from Physicians Formula, and is part of its Mineral Wear line of mineral makeup. Unlike many other mineral makeups, this one is not a powder or dry format, but rather more similar to other liquid foundations. For most liquid foundations, women use disposable sponges—rather than using their fingers—to apply makeup. This unique package has an integrated antimicrobial sponge through which the foundation is dispensed. This is a unique convenience feature we have not seen on other foundations.
The foundation comes in a flexible tube that has the sponge affixed to the end, and the foundation itself dispenses via a small hole in the center of the sponge. The company suggests that the sponge be used to apply foundation directly to the face, resulting in "effortless application without the mess or contamination."
In fact, the box mentions specifically the brand of the sponge applicator—Yukilon Tera. This is a polyurethane-based foam sponge manufactured for the industry by The Penthouse Group. While its main advantage is its smooth feel and antimicrobial benefits, the sponge line is called Tera because it is made without chemical solvents, making it more environmentally friendly. This benefit is not mentioned on the Physicians Formula product, however.
What gives these two foundations the "Wow" factor? From our standpoint, it is the unique application of package technology to provide a true point of difference. As I mentioned earlier, we see so many cosmetic packages that are beautiful or complicated or clever in some way, but relatively few new packages that provide a true point of difference functionally. And the additional "Wow" factor here is that these added benefit packages are available to the mainstream consumer.
Lynn Dornblaser is the director of the Custom Solutions Group at Mintel International. She can be reached at 312-932-0400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.