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Whether at home, at work, or on the go, skincare products play an important role in consumers’ daily routines. This prominence means that consumers have high expectations for products and look for solutions that can fulfil their needs on multiple levels. In order to meet this need and match the competition, manufacturers must be able to innovate in all elements of the product. Although the product itself should be the primary focus, there are several ways in which packaging can help to enhance the product and its appeal. 

In the recent report from GlobalData, ‘Adding Value Through Packaging 2018: Skincare’, packaging analyst Pawel Urban explores how skincare products can be enhanced by their packaging. From new formats and designs to value-added features and premiumisation, there are a range of avenues for manufacturers to explore within skincare packaging. In doing so, they can make innovations that will not only help their products stand out from the competition, but also provide a quantitative enhancement to the consumer experience. Drawing from research detailed in the report, we examine opportunities in the skincare sector to add value through such packaging innovations. 

Function over form: convenient closures and hassle-free dispensing

One of the key factors in encouraging consumers to try new products is new functionality. A reliable method for attracting attention to a product, new functionality can take the form of either a novelty or a refinement. In the skincare sector, packaging seems best positioned to bring refinements to products that provide visible benefits to the user’s experience of a product. With even basic or established products, manufacturers can add value by investing in or expanding on ideas of hassle-free or one-handed dispensing. Sensory experiences play an important role in products such as skincare, but consumers are beginning to look beyond such aspects towards more tangible usability enhancements. 

This does not mean that manufacturers need to rush out new products designed purely around functionality; in fact 60% of respondents in GlobalData's 2016 Q3 global consumer survey said that they find trying new experiences more exciting than trying new products. Brands should look to enhance their established products by increasing functionality and adding new functions to provide a different experience for the consumer. There are various ways to approach this, such as unusual dispensing methods to provide a certain increased aesthetic appeal, but the best approach seems to be increasing convenience of use. 

According to Urban: "Functionality is important for skincare products as it helps to make the user experience hassle-free and differentiates the brand from competitors."

‘Adding Value Through Packaging 2018: Skincare’ highlights how skincare products need to be usable in a wide range of scenarios and preferably with a premium level of convenience. Innovating around this means making packaging for these products hassle-free regardless of situation, such as one-handed dispensing that allows for easy use on hard-to-reach areas such as the back . Further opportunities can be found in adjusting closures to assist with product application; the report highlights dispensers that can help prevent liquid spillage and increase hygiene. By focusing on adding such functional qualities, manufacturers can satisfy consumer demand for novelty while also appealing to the practical demands for products within the sector. 

Sensory fusion, premiumisation, and indulgence: elevating packaging’s aesthetic value

Packaging innovations do not necessarily have to be limited to the purely functional; however, there is notable crossover into trends of sensory fusion and premiumisation and indulgence within the skincare sector. With such a highly competitive and likely overfilled market, it can be hard for products to stand out on the shelf. Manufacturers should therefore aim to create products with an awareness of the visual attractiveness that will draw consumers seeking more sensory appeal. While functional improvements can make consumers’ lives easier, adding aesthetic value can encourage further purchase by giving the impression that the product is something out of the ordinary. 

This can, in part, compromise pure aesthetic appeal such as the SAEM Iceland hydrating soothing gel highlighted in the report. The South Korean product’s bottle is designed to look like an iceberg, with the closure acting as the tip of the iceberg. Additionally, ice crystal and water bubble graphics can be seen through the front of the bottle. By creating packaging with this kind of visual flair, manufacturers can not only help their product stand out on the shelf, but also enhance brand recognition and consumer interest in future products. 

Alternatively, manufacturers can look to create a greater sense of premiumisation around their product via packaging. Beyond the broader sensory appeal of an enhanced visual design, packaging can be used to make a product appear more indulgent. The two primary methods highlighted to cater to this aesthetic are increasing the quality of the packaging overall and making use of different kinds of surfaces to attract attention. For the latter, reflective and tactile surfaces provide a more unique appearance than ordinary packaging; manufacturers should consider techniques such as embossing, foil blocking and varnishing. On the other hand, increasing the quality of the packaging does not necessarily mean simply using a material that costs more, but making use of materials in ways that imply quality. Smooth finishes, the use of foil blocking and golden inks, and even unusual construction can all help to differentiate the product from competitors and point towards its premium uniqueness. 

Convenience and consciousness: making packaging lightweight and sustainable

As with several product sectors, skincare manufacturers must contend with a consumer base increasingly looking to be catered to out of the home and on the move. By reducing the amount of carry weight and facilitating easy product application, manufacturers can fit into the consumer’s busy lifestyle without adding to said busyness. As previously mentioned, hassle-free product application can serve as a primary route for this area, as it helps consumers to maximise their time. There are other methods worth considering however, such as formats that are specifically designed around convenience or pre-dosing.  

By introducing pre-dosed formats, manufacturers provide consumers with a product that is both easy to apply and, more importantly, requires nothing else to use. Keeping such packs light and flexible should also be considered; not only does it work well for the pre-dosed format, but it is also likely to be well received by consumers generally looking for more minimal products. Highlighted in the report is the Prelab Toning Peeling Tap facial serum, also from South Korea, that comes in single-use pre-dosed sachets. Although the larger pack’s size may find it left at home, the sachets present an easy one-handed application that is perfect for consumers seeking on-the-go convenience.

Finally, it is worth bearing in mind that consumers are generally trending towards greater health- and sustainability-consciousness. Manufacturers should be aware with any packaging choice of opportunities to make use of more sustainable materials and present products that will be popular among consumers seeking environmentally friendly products. Particularly in the area of increased convenience, lightweight options can satisfy a desire to reduce waste. Although it will not be suitable for all products to be packaged lightly, it is worth considering reducing weight wherever possible and increasing sustainability.

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