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Recycled content not always preferable in natural and organic cosmetics packaging

By Katie Nichol , 17-Mar-2011

With natural and organic cosmetics products typically commanding a higher price than their traditional counterparts, packaging needs to reflect this, which doesn’t always mean opting for recycled or sustainable content, according to Euromonitor International's head of global packaging research, Benjamin Punchard.

“While some categories, such as organic food, often combine a strong environmental awareness in both the product (as organic) and the packaging (often bio-based plastics or compostable materials), within cosmetics this is not always possible or desirable," Punchard told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com

Punchard highlighted that when glass packaging is used, cosmetics and personal care companies will more often opt for virgin glass rather than recycled glass in order to ensure the premium image they are trying to portray is reflected in the packaging quality and clarity.

“In addition, many skin creams and lotions will be oxygen or light-sensitive and therefore the primary concern will be to protect the contents, for example through airless pump technology, rather than to utilize recycled or sustainable packaging content,” he said.

‘Positioning is everything’

When it comes to using packaging to market natural and organic cosmetics and personal care products, ‘positioning is everything’, said Punchard.

While virgin glass may be preferable to recycled glass for clarity, this can be marketed to the consumer as recyclable, he said, adding that often, secondary packaging of a folding carton is used, which offers additional scope for the inclusion of recycled board.

Visual and sensory aspects such as the use of unfinished kraft paper and green and brown colouring can further help to communicate the natural positioning of a product, Punchard added.

Younger consumers are ideal target market

In particular, Punchard identified younger consumers who have grown up with an awareness of environmental issues as an ideal target audience for natural organic cosmetics and personal care companies.

“However, natural and organic products can chime with needs across a wide range of consumer types,” he said. “City workers looking to neutralize the effects of daily pollution will look to the opposite – natural and organic – as a solution. The more wealthy consumer will see these properties as signifiers of a premium product that justifies a higher unit cost.”

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