Packaging Takes Center Stage at Cosmoprof North America

It is no longer compelling enough for beauty products to feature a trendy ingredient or bold pigment. To stand out on crowded shelves, brands today also have to be wrapped up in a compelling package.
Packaging took center stage at last week’s Cosmoprof North America (CPNA) event held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. More than 40,000 attendees, an increase of 9 percent over last year, canvassed the 331,150-square-foot floor looking for not only environmentally friendly products, but those with Instagrammable qualities as well. Other notable trends were natural and organic lines; rituals inspired from Korea, Japan and India; fast beauty; men’s products; multicultural assortments; and technology in beauty.
“This year was the best event ever for Cosmoprof North America, with record-setting numbers and most of the key national retailers and distributors represented at the show eager to discover trends from the eight curated areas and the over 1,400 exhibitors present on the show floor,” said Daniela Ciocan, CPNA’s marketing director. Among the retailers that brands said they met with were Barneys New York, Macy’s, C.B. Bigelow, Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, Ulta Beauty, Walmart, QVC, Neiman Marcus and Detox Market. Paris Hilton, who is launching her own skin-care line, caused a stir when she whirled around the show floor on Sunday.
“We’ve been looking at the packaging area,” said mother and daughter Taylor and Jenny Frankel of Nudestix, who stopped by CPNA just prior to their line rolling out into the Middle East. “Sometimes a package sparks an idea and sometimes it is the other way around,” said Jenny Frankel.
Eyes were cast on two different needs in packaging — environmentally conscious, as illustrated by collapsible packages at Bulk Homme, and whimsical designs, exemplified by skin-care encased in watermelon designs from Purlisse.
The wattage at Swarovski’s booth was traffic-stopping, thanks to fingernails bedazzled with crystals. In the curated Discover Beauty area, a cleverly packaged portable razor with a compartment for spray, lather and a razor built into one called Sphynx nabbed attention. Nostalgic packaging from the Fifties helped a beauty accessories company called Vintage, sold in retailers including Ulta Beauty, JC Penney and Wegmans, stand out.
Ian Ginsberg, president of C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries, said packaging that takes up less space in landfills or is recyclable is gaining traction in the U.S. “As we are more and more concerned about packaging waste, even with recyclable material, I noticed a bunch of brands with collapsible packaging.” He said the practice, already in place in Europe, is gaining favor for body wash, lotion, shampoo and conditioners.
Stephanie Wissink, equities analyst with Jefferies, pinpointed packaging as the number-one topic at the three-day show. America is watching the European Union, which is headed toward mandatory implementation by consumer products industries of 100 percent recyclable packaging by 2020, she said. “Beauty companies are seen as some of the biggest offenders,” she said, noting there was chatter about how that will have to change.
“We’re going to see a big push in sustainability,” agreed Jenny Hsu, chief strategy officer for HCT Group. She demonstrated the G Series brush composed of sustainable brushes with performance-mimicking animal hair.
While making better-for-the-earth packages was top of mind, there were concerns, especially swirling around the luxury sector. The search is on for materials that are upscale and environmentally conscious, which can be challenging in a category known for glitz.
At the other end of the spectrum, fun rules. “It is all about the selfies and whatever makes them pop," said Jack Savdie, vice president of sales at Global Beauty Care. Highly photogenic masks, he added, show no signs of easing up in popularity, especially versions with metallics, hydrogel and glitter. There was no shortage of masks at CPNA designed for everything from lips to the derriere.
It was hard to bypass Swarovski without stopping in to see the bling. “At Swarovski, we strive for creative excellence and to push the boundaries of design through crystal craftsmanship, innovation, and trusted partnerships. It’s been great to showcase our capabilities to the beauty industry at Cosmoprof and inspire brands with the opportunities that become possible with crystals from Swarovski. We believe in igniting creativity through the power of collaborations and look forward to bringing more sparkle to the forefront of beauty," said Alexander Wellhoefer, senior vice president of operations for Swarovski Professional Americas.
Swarovski bedazzled curling wand.
“Instagram fuels the need for fast beauty, said Derek Harvey, co-chief executive officer and one of the founders of Fusion Packaging. To hasten speed to market, his company offers a turnkey program from packaging to formulation (the company has more than 40 formulas in makeup and over 80 in skin). “We used to go to brands with just packaging; now we are going to brands with a full story,” he said. “We are working like a brand.”
Inside the bottle, natural and organic are becoming the norm, according to Deborah Weinswig, ceo and founder of Coresight Research. “Functional skin care is the main focus, there has been very little buzz about traditional color cosmetics at the show. The clean and ‘free from’ beauty category is trending upward across skin care and hair care products.” Among the ingredients consumers don’t want, she added, are sulfates, parabens, fragrances, alcohol, gluten and silicone.
Consumers are willing to dig into their pockets for these options. “Brands developed with natural and organic inputs are growing significantly above industry averages — accounting for 50 percent of prestige skin-care growth in 2017 and growing 9 percent in mass,” Wissink said.
The move to natural, organic and vegan comes with challenges, said Rose Fernandez, chief executive officer of Algenist, a brand that has always been sustainably produced and mostly vegan. “Wellness has a new momentum; we are taking care of ourselves and it is nice to see the world changing. But there are murky waters to make sure products are credible and whether they work.” New from Algenist is Alive — a color-morphing mask formulated with a prebiotic from algae and a probiotic to target concerns resulting from unbalanced surface-skin bacteria.
Mary Catherine Horgan, category manager for Pharmaca, praised the Discover Green section. "This section was bigger and more centrally located than last year, which made it even more exciting. There seemed to be wider range of natural product offerings—from facial care and makeup to hair care, body care and even natural lash products," she said. "It was clear a lot of thought went into selecting vendors for the Green Beauty “speed dating” meetings. The brands were all a good fit ingredients-wise for our stores and it was fun to see vendors at all different stages of their growth and distribution."
Ubuna is a new J-beauty entry.K-beauty is still coveted, but there were indications some shoppers were looking at products inspired by Japanese technology and rituals. That was behind activity at a brand called Ubuna which, according to Tom Winarick, ceo and co-founder of parent company BioBoutique Lab, combines Eastern technology with Western skin care. There are four serums, priced at $180, targeting specific needs such as anti-pollution. There were also signs of products, especially in fragrances, coming from India.
Other major news from the show included:
Indies still drive growth: “The indie brands are still very much in demand,” said Ciocan. “Our event is the only platform where they can get numerous business contacts and insights to take their business to the next level." This year CPNA staged a new take on its Beauty Pitch where brands had access to investment sources through Angels and Founder’s Factory.
With electronic retailing “on fire,” Rob Robbilard, vice president of beauty merchandising for Qurate, was looking for up-and-coming brands for QVC and HSN. He scoped lines in the beauty vanities areas — a new spot on the floor for first-timers and those with fewer than 10 stock keeping units. “Our goal is to find great brands that are compelling, have a great narrative and unique brand stories. We can see faux hair as a major category and self tanning — no bounds in terms of categories we can sell.”
Also zeroing in on indie growth was the BASF Group, which attended the show to solidify relationships with up-and-coming brands that can benefit from its ingredient expertise. BASF unveiled Replexium at CPNA — a new cosmetic active ingredient formulated to help consumers achieve beauty aspirations to look younger.
CBD Goes Mainstream: Awash in a sea of entries, one retailer gravitated toward the CBD entry from Cannabliss. The formulas are infused with 0.5 percent CBD oils. “It is more luxurious than the other CBD products I saw,” she said. The company said it has commitments from a major drug chain along with direct television channels. CBD oil touts many different claims, ranging from joint relief and muscle ache relief to helping with psoriasis and rashes, along with anti-inflammatory benefits.
Men’s Grooming: Products for men were among the most active areas on the show floor. Both Target and Ulta Beauty were pegged as retailers putting more effort toward male consumers. Hue for Every Man, a brand that benefited from the Target Accelerator program, made a splash with former NBA star Matt Barnes, who has joined the brand’s executive team, at its booth. Retailers also singled out Respected Roots, a line with beard care at its core. On site, barbers showed the latest trends in men’s styles, most notably deep shave grooves that create designs in the hair.
Tell A Story: To reach Millennials and Generation Z, brands said they are working harder to tell stories behind brands. “Beauty is a category that requires immersion, excitement, hands-on trial, features, benefits and authentic purpose,” said Bruce Teitelbaum, the founder and ceo of RPG, who said more brands and retailers are looking to in-store environments to support brand stories. Added Weinswig, “Brands are increasingly focused on the intersection of experience and things which is resonating with consumers’ hearts and minds.”
Cirem was an example of a company telling a story about its roots in a luxury Beverly Hills pharmacy. The brand also hit a high note with attendees for its altruistic efforts — 10 percent of net sales were recently donated to women in shelters.
Counterfeits: For myriad reasons, including demand for luxury beauty, brands lamented there were more fakes being sold on Amazon than in the past. “An anti-Amazon sentiment among brands seemed to pervade at the conference due to the presence of counterfeits and the lack of brand protection,” said Weinswig.
Beauty and Tech: Hi-Mirror demonstrated a magic mirror that helps users see if skin-care products are making improvements. The mirror can also scan and track product supplies and make alerts if items are expiring. There were numerous innovations in appliances including the Active Oxygen Hair Dryer from Gamma + Italia that uses active oxygen to protect, enhance and brighten hair.
Technology and DNA testing are also ushering a brave new world in skin care. Pathway’s Skin IQ sampled a personalized skin genetic profile, including an analysis of seven categories of skin health. Reports help address skin health through lifestyle, nutrition improvements and which nutrients and topicals will most benefit skin.
Retiring the term ethnic: The Global Beauty Alliances voted to support changing the name of the ethnic hair care category to textured hair in a gathering just prior to CPNA. According to Cornell McBride Jr., co-chairman of the GBA, “It is not unusual when words are changed to more accurately represent current thinking and current behavior.”  The term “ethnic” has been used for decades to describe the products in this category.  "The term “Ethnic” is outdated, marginalizing and no longer the most accurate or descriptive term for the products in this beauty category," McBride said.
Housewives in the House: "Real Housewives of New Jersey's" Margaret Josephs and "Real Housewives of Dallas'" D’Andra Simmons were on hand showing off beauty lines. Josephs has a range of accessories under the Macbeth Collection logo; Simmons has a collection of skin care called Hard Night Good Morning.
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