Converters supplying labels to cosmetic brands are under pressure to keep up with new finishing technologies, relay the brand message and meet expectations of eco-conscious consumers.
Beauty and personal care products’ labels perform a difficult task. They must comply with regulations. They must conform to often small packages of varied and tricky shapes and sizes. They have to perform through the entire supply chain, in the store, and in the consumer’s home. Finally, the labels must convince a consumer to reach for the product displayed on a crowded shop shelf. So what factors are shaping today’s cosmetics label market?
According to Angel Harvey, senior product manager for films at Avery Dennison, the most important aspect is to choose the right label material that will work with the variety of pack types in the cosmetics market.
‘We offer a range of prime film materials that have increasing levels of conformability and squeezability, and are built to handle applications like tubes as well as tight mandrel or low surface energy applications that can be common in the cosmetics industry,’ says Harvey. ‘Additionally, due to the nature of the cosmetics market, labels must maintain their integrity and be resistant to moisture and oils and they can’t wrinkle, tear or scratch from heavy handling.’
‘As the cosmetics, beauty and personal care sectors grow, attractive opportunities are available for narrow web printers,’ adds Tony Martin, technical sales manager at Pulse Roll Label Products. ‘However, as label designs get ever more complex and sophisticated, there are certain challenges that exist for label and packaging converters. Suppliers of inks and coatings, not forgetting plates, anilox and substrates, can all play an important role in providing solutions for label printing companies active in the cosmetics market. From an ink and coatings perspective, finishing for functionality as well as for embellishment and visual effect, plus achieving accurate brand and product colors, all play a key role in creating the perfect cosmetics label.’
2. Regulatory compliance
The cosmetics industry is highly regulated in terms of what must be included on the label and packaging. A significant amount of information, such as ingredients and consumer warnings, must legally be integrated into the packaging.
‘Without sacrificing the brand’s aesthetic appeal and identity, peel and read labels provide a valuable solution for brand packaging and labels in the cosmetics, personal-care and beauty-care markets,’ comments Martin. ‘Allowing room for on-pack brand graphics, additional text can be included in booklet labels that simply peel and then reseal. These multi-layer labels do, however, require an adhesive coating that provides repeatable release and good adhesion to multiple substrates for application on packaging, containers and bottles. Our PurePeel UV flexo peel and read release varnish is formulated to do just that.’
“More than 75 percent of purchasing decisions are made at the store shelf. Innovative packaging is therefore essential for product defferentiation”
Cosmetics frequently come in smaller packages, resulting in smaller labels – then the print quality and readability of fine text becomes even more critical, as cosmetic product labeling must be indelible, easily legible and visible. ‘High definition inks for HD flexo printing are the recommended choice for narrow web printers to achieve optimal print quality for both readability and eye catching, bold and colorful graphics to help cosmetic brands stand out on the shelf,’ adds Martin.
‘In the crowded cosmetics market, shelf presence is key for our clients. The quality of the label has an important role to play in representing the quality of the product in the pack,’ adds Martin Hughes, head of sales at UK converter Royston Labels. ‘One of the key challenges cosmetics brands face is that label colors truly represent the product and they rely on us to consistently match between production runs. We achieve this with our digital color management system.’
3. Shelf appeal
With more than 75 percent of purchasing decisions made at the store shelf, innovative packaging is essential for product differentiation. Also, consumers expect personalized experiences and interaction with the brands they love. ‘We see many cosmetics brands choosing a more luxury or premium look and feel. Many want the clear on clear or no-label look, which lends itself to attractive high-end appearances and is available through our prime films portfolio,’ says Harvey.
According to Chiara Tomasi, marketing manager at Arconvert, market trends used to develop in a linear, steady fashion. But nowadays the cosmetics industry must keep up with the customer’s increasing desire for diversification. ‘This incredible variety of products makes it quite challenging, even for renowned brands, to stand out and end up in the cart,’ she says. ‘The consumer, facing the shelf or a screen, has to rely on product image, without really knowing the content. Hence the importance of premium packaging.’
‘There are two specific moments where the packaging and label design is incredibly important to the brand image – and to our buying decisions,’ says Vicki Strull, L&L’s branding and design columnist. ‘One is when we’re shopping in-store or online. The packaging and label design must catch our eye, stand out from the other products, and, in the case of in-store, entice us to pick it up, touch it, and ultimately purchase it. We see foil, substrates, tactile materials, holographic, bright colors or subtle tones, shiny paper or sustainable materials.’
UK-based converter Amberley Labels has produced labels for the personal care sector for over 40 years. It has seen an increasing need for innovation and diversification, with competition intensifying between proprietary and private label brands, and brand owners using more sophisticated marketing techniques to reach their audiences.
‘Our customers are always looking for a tactile finish, but where this doesn’t suit the technical requirements, embellishment remains key to the label development process,’ says David Richards, managing director at Amberley. ‘The quality of the papers and films in our market is of such a high standard today that a product meeting the requirements of application and adhesion are a given. It is more about the print technology such as the HP Indigo digital process, offering exacting photographic quality or the embellishment of hot or cold foil, emboss/deboss and raised varnishes that lead the way.’
‘Better design and use of premium papers help to achieve a premium look with a small investment,’ says Tomasi. ‘A self-adhesive paper, even the most luxurious, won’t exceed 20 percent of the label’s total cost.’
According to Strull these aren’t random choices, because the label and packaging design must also match the brand message and tell the brand story. ‘Label design doesn’t work in isolation; it must work with all the other marketing brands are doing in support of the product. Protecting our bodies includes using non-toxic ingredients such as paraben-free and sulfate-free formulas, and no animal testing. This is a secondary brand story, and it should be told in the look and feel of the label and packaging. So as much as a brand wants to stand out using foils and colors, they must also consider environmentally friendly factors,’ adds Strull.
Beauty pollution is worse than ever, warns Zero Waste Europe, a climate change agency based in Brussels. The sector creates 120 billion units of packaging every year. According to Amberley Labels, one of the biggest challenges is to deliver the most sustainable product packaging available which meets end-user requirements while mirroring the sustainability targets set by the largest players in the market. ‘2025 is a key target for most customers, in a market where a large number of products are placed into the bathroom environment and the move from filmic to paper products isn’t always the solution,’ says Richards. ‘Bathroom products, diffusers or anything containing essential oils are best suited to filmic label materials and this is where the need for greater access to recycled and more eco-friendly films would be welcomed. Here at Amberley, our starting point is to ensure all our filmic products have a paper liner that is FSC-approved.’
“Environmental responsibility has become an essential element for cosmetics and personal care brands”
Avery Dennison also focuses on sustainability. ‘The biggest opportunity we see is in clean cosmetics. Brands and consumers have an increased focus on clean ingredients in cosmetics and are working hard to clearly display that on their packaging,’ says Harvey. ‘We believe there will be a continued focus on sustainable packaging and choosing labels in support of the brand’s initiatives. More beauty brands are embracing refills and redesigning their product to make it a luxurious proposition.’
Royston Labels works directly with UK recycling services to offer innovative technologies and clear practical advice for its clients. ‘Manufacturers are looking at how they can move away from single-use plastics and transition their packaging to sustainable materials,’ says Hughes. ‘The consumer market is looking for brands to use packaging which is easily recycled without compromising design appeal.’
Research from McKinley confirms that over 65 percent of consumers will pay more for sustainable products. Environmental responsibility is therefore an essential element for brands. Cosmetics consumers want brands they can trust to protect the planet, the same way as they trust them to protect their bodies.