Clearly Innovative

Whether provocatively see-through or richly imbued with color, today’s innovative beauty packages go beyond sheer good looks and elaborate delivery systems to reach consumers on a more personal level.



Multi-tasking products in Davines’ Authentic Collection feature images of women drawn by a local artist and inspired by Renaissance era art.

Among the many innovative packages that recently crossed my radar, two were unrelated to beauty, but shared similar goals; instead of encasing lipstick or mascara, they housed a popular fast food. The first came into view while navigating rush-hour traffic in midtown Manhattan a few weeks ago. I caught sight of a patron heading out of a pizzeria carrying his pending dinner not in the standard square carton—but in a rounded paper bag! Soon after, I heard about the GreenBox, developed by an entrepreneur who was also thinking outside the traditional pizza box. It’s a new, patented design in which a pizza box, made from 100% recycled post-consumer content, is scored so it can be separated and used as plates, and then easily recycled. The bottom of the box even folds up into a storage container for leftovers. Not only is the box practical, functional and eco-friendly, it also created a self-promotional stir on social media sites, especially when Ashton Kutcher tweeted about it.

Both pizza packages accomplish what successful beauty products aim for: an innovative approach that also succeeds in impacting the consumer experience in a meaningful way—such as through the delight of the packaging, the efficacy of the formulation or the nature of the materials used.

Innovative Beauty

The list goes on and on when it comes to beauty packages, formulations and delivery systems that are described as innovative. Battery-operated mascaras, lipgloss that changes color upon application, fragrances dressed as dolls, bath lines in biodegradable packaging, airbrush techniques for applying makeup, rollerballs with gentle massagers…

The popular adjective also describes compelling strategies and the results of effective R&D, such as brands’ use of color-coded SKUs that instantly ID a full range, suppliers’ abilities to bring a prestige look to mass market goods, and the development of materials and decorative techniques that allow packaging to reach new heights of sensory appeal.

Then there’s the approach to the global marketplace to consider. With a growing number of brands relying on expansion via world markets, particularly in the BRIC countries, innovation has become a key descriptor of savvy marketing strategies that reach out to touch consumers, based not only on their beauty needs, but on their inherent values and regional customs.

Brand Perspective

The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) has long earned kudos for innovative packaging, including numerous accomplishments in the areas mentioned above. With nearly 30 brands, the global beauty company employs 20 people worldwide dedicated to innovation. To get their perspectives on the popular “I” word, I turned to a couple of ELC packaging executives to comment on what innovation means to them and how the word fits into their current corporate vocabulary.

Allan Hafkin, vice president, global package development, The Estée Lauder Companies, acknowledges the descriptor’s broad range of meanings. “Innovation in packaging can mean many things,” he says. “It could be finding a simpler, more cost-effective way to achieve an effect in decorating or a new more environmental approach to achieve the same directive. It could be a completely new technology that enables us to achieve effects that have never been done before.”

At ELC, Hafkin says that package innovation is a corporate initiative in which “all of our brands are working hard to integrate the latest technology and ideas into the DNA of each respective brand, without undermining the consistency of their individual brand message.”

But not just any idea gets use of the coveted word at ELC; careful research and consumer focus groups must back it up—and a good deal of innovation derives from efforts in method and approach. “There’s a lot of study and research done on innovation to ensure quality and performance including consumer feedback. In general, we have integrated innovation in many of our packages in the form of process, material and manufacturing efficiency,” says Hafkin, who adds that many of these efforts are often transparent to the consumer, but have a large impact on business.

According to Hafkin, a consumer/technology innovation for applicators, materials or new delivery systems must have a clear benefit and purpose. He says, “We have seen many ‘innovations’ hit the marketplace that we consider ineffective and that do not add consumer value.”

How do consumers perceive the definition of the word? Hafkin says, “I think most consumers consider innovation something tangible that impacts the interaction between the package, the formula and the consumer. We always intend to improve the consumer experience. I think the consumer is attracted to the latest and greatest, but I also feel that they are smart enough to distinguish between gimmicks and innovations that truly impact their experience.”

On a global level, George Kress, vice president, The Estée Lauder Companies, corporate package innovations, says recent emphasis on the word extends to products that are regionally relevant. “Regional design influences are going to be felt more,” he says. For instance, he explains, “More focus will be placed on just what makes a product different in a particular area.”

Hafkin, too, speaks of the importance of addressing a global market. “Since we have a consumer-inspired approach, it is important to consider the global market. Innovations can be more impactful in some regions and less in others. Innovation can be expensive and resource draining. The challenge is to manage innovation efficiently and effectively to be quick to market.As our brands continue to evolve, we will generate more locally relevant innovations to meet our consumers’ aspirations.”

Kress says that ELC studies various global cultures to determine what works best in distinct regions. In Asia, he says, the possibilities for regional appeal run the gamut from more expensive packaging to configuring the package so that it respects the ritual in purchasing, especially with luxury consumers. He calls it a “high-touch model” that makes a connection with the consumer. Details can include the way the department store counter representative presents the product to the customer, which way the package faces, attention to orienting the logo in the right direction, how the inner tab lifts up, and how the printing on the cap and bottle align. “We take cues from regional markets,” he says, adding that it’s also important to have an engaging sales demo showing how the product works.

Kress also acknowledges that the pressure is on, with mass-market products catching up with prestige. “The mass market gets better and better,” he says, “while manufacturers get more efficient and cost-effective.” Thus, he adds, “Prestige has to deliver on another level—so the formula plays a crucial role. We have to be creative in how the packaging and the product work together; it has to bring something to the overall experience. We need to align technology with chemistry.”


Avon’s Pro Color & Gloss Lip Duo achieves a successful interaction between the package, the formula and the consumer.
Creating an Experience


Avon is a global beauty company that has relied on innovative approaches to take mass-market products to new levels as it expands in regions around the world. It, too, seeks to provide customers with an experience that goes beyond the formulation and the packaging.

Eileen Higgins, Avon’s vice president of global product innovation, agrees that consumers are attracted to new, innovative and novel packages, “especially,” she says, “ in emotionally driven categories like color and fragrance—and let’s not forget fun. Consumers need their experience to be a positive and uplifting one when they use our products.”

Higgins says that although a direct sales brochure prevents the consumer from touching the packaging as they would in a retail environment, it gives the direct marketer the opportunity to devote space on the pages of its brochure to explain the details and facets of not only the package, but the formula and claims, and to showcase its unique point of difference versus being in store on a shelf.

Like Estée Lauder, Avon focuses a great deal on packaging innovation, and in the same fashion, also engages its consumers in the approval process before moving forward with a new and exciting product.

“We have a PILOT team (Package Innovation and Leadership Opportunity Team) where we conceptualize and validate with consumers‘first to market’ packaging innovations,” Higgins explains.An example of this is the Avon Pro Color & Gloss Lip Duo, which she describes as “the first lipstick with a built-in gloss.”

This “first-to-market innovation” combines a high shine gloss wrapped in a rich color lipstick. The lipstick has a hollow core through which lipgloss flows. It gives the consumer the versatility and ability to customize her lip look, by either layering lipstick and gloss or wearing one individually. Available in 15 shades globally, the colors were selected by a professional makeup artist for a variety of lip looks in one package. The package is used as follows: first apply the lip color, then squeeze the tube at the bottom to dispense lipgloss to apply on top of lip color. Or for just gloss, gently squeeze and apply lightly over lips.

“Easy, fun, versatile looks, colors and finishes are exactly what women are looking for in their lip coloring experience,” says Higgins.

The innovative dispensing package for another Avon product—Avon Anew Reversalist Renewal Serum—also successfully ties together the package, the formulation and the consumer appeal. The package design gets the anti-aging message across instantly, as it resembles a pharmaceutical capsule. Lombardi Design & Manufacturing developed and produced the package, which is made of a co-polyester from Eastman. According to Thomas Delach, Lombardi’s director of engineering, the product’s unique delivery system features a fixed actuator in the head. When the button on the back is depressed, it moves the inner bottle up and down within the capsule, and dispenses the formulation through the front. The front is second-surface metallized, meaning the plastic is molded in a transparent tint, and metallized behind, creating a depth of color. The decoration for the global launch changes to meet different markets. Lombardi manufactured the package in its U.S. factory for the North American and South American market, and in its China factory, for the European and Asian market.


The dispensing package for Avon Anew Reversalist Renewal Serum features a fixed actuator in the head.
The Art of Clarity


Another Eastman resin was used for an innovative collaboration between the chemicals company and internationally acclaimed packaging designer Marc Rosen, of Marc Rosen Associates. Best known for his fragrance bottle designs made of glass, Rosen used Eastar CN copolyester to develop five collections of futuristic makeup designs, called The Art of Clarity.The packages emphasize the unique properties of the material—with heavy walls, clear color and sharp edges. “Unlike other plastics,” says Rosen, “it allows for many decorative options; you can print, plate and screen on it, or use it tinted or opaque.”

The collections, just revealed at Luxe Pack Monaco, were designed to show how to make plastic look premium. Rosen says that while “clear was always thin-walled and in drugstores,” this collection uses thick walls and shows the color. He says the glass polymer “gives designers and brands a new opportunity to create makeup packaging that’s clear [not cloudy] and prestige looking.”

In developing the five ranges (Triad, Prive, Swirl, Chic and Halo) plus two gift with purchase designs, Rosen focused on jewelry designs of the ’40s and ’50s, reinterpreting them to make them look contemporary.

Triad was inspired by a postal envelope design. When Rosen first joined Arden in ’76, (when it was owned by Eli Lilly), he was invited to look at Elizabeth Arden’s archives, which were kept in a shoebox in the basement. There was a special package he never forgot—a Paul Flato-designed compact in the shape of an envelope, with Elizabeth Arden’s address engraved on the flap. The Triad compact uses the envelope idea, with a clear flap that reveals the color when opened.

Prive was architecturally inspired, based on an art deco design, which shows the variance in thickness that can be achieved with the material.

Swirl is not vintage-based, but was created to show something with flow. It exhibits the sharpness of the edge of the compact, and flows from very thick to thin contours. An added bonus: The mirror is on the bottom so it can be used without opening the compact.

Chic, perhaps the most retro of the group, was inspired by an oldVan Cleef & Arpels compact. A raised, shallow, pyramid clasp matches pyramid tops on the other components. A heavy wall tops very thick walls to enhance colors.

Halo is perhaps the simplest. A thick, plastic halo surrounds the color, and shows the glass polymer in the simplest way.


Packaging designer Marc Rosen developed five collections of futuristic makeup designs, called The Art of Clarity, to show how plastic can be made to look premium. (L-R): Triad, Prive, Swirl, Chic, Halo.

The seven collections designed by Rosen feature the molding expertise of six global manufacturing companies: Alcan Packaging Beauty of Brazil (Halo); Plasmetik Precision Molding Company, Ltd., of China (gifts with purchase); Pieriplast of Peru (Prive); and Axilone (Chic), Jackel Cosmetics Limited (Swirl) and Leidel Corporation (Triad) of the United States.

Clearly Consumer-Oriented


The new Authentic Collection from Davines, headquartered in Parma, Italy, also uses premium plastic packaging along with glass and aluminum. The packaging for this line is different from its past collections, with images “peeking” through the clear bottles or portrayed on lids and tubes. The line can be considered innovative in a number of ways, including the materials used, the multi-use functions of the formulas (for face, hair and body; or hair and body), artistic elements, simple labels, reusable containers and an underlying goal of enriching consumers’ lives, targeting a woman’s “beauty and profound being.”

M. Vittoria Mangiarotti, Davines’ creative director, says the most innovative packaging in the collection is the Essential Haircare line. “It’s polyhedric,” she says. “After its main function of containing our formulas, it can be reused for many different purposes.” The food-grade packaging can be used to store leftovers, as it’s microwave-, freezer- and dishwasher-safe. “This is intelligent, helpful packaging for further goals,” says Mangiarotti. “Clients pay for something that can honestly serve forever.”

The multitasking Authentic Collection features from 98- to 100% naturally derived ingredients, and Mangiarotti says there’s no tradeoff—each product employs a hydrating, nurturing botanical blend to balance and replenish from head to toe.

Mangiarotti describes the packaging design “as inspired by women and their desire to escape into an idyllic and beautiful world that is free from the confinement of the ideals of beauty.”The products feature four different images of women all drawn by a local artist and inspired by the women of Renaissance era art. “They are not idealized images,” she says, “but images that can represent all women. The plants and animals are the conceptualization of a moment of grace and beauty.”

All materials were chosen for protection of the formulations and appeal to consumers. PET plastic was chosen for the Cleansing Nectar and Nourishing Oil, “because it is high-quality, food-grade plastic that protects the quality of the product within,” explains Mangiarotti, adding, “PET is client-friendly and functional.”Aluminum was chosen for the Moisturising Balm “because it is a raw material like glass—high-quality, but also has an ageless aesthetic.” Glass was chosen for the Replenishing Butter [since it’s not used in the shower, breakage won’t be an issue] “because glass highlights the purity and quality of the product.”

The overall packaging, says Mangiarotti, was designed to be classic—to represent “ageless beauty.”(For more on Mangiarotti’s views on packaging, please go to www.beautypackaging.com.)

Packaging for Davines’ Essential Haircare line can be reused.


Clearing the Clutter

Weleda, too, has recently changed its packaging to appeal to the consumer in a more intuitive and relevant way. With multiple languages, clear symbols and color ways that make it easy to instantly identify a complete range, this forerunner in the U.S. natural and organic personal care market has gone a step further in combining effective formulations in simple but beautiful packaging—pleasing both longtime and new consumers throughout the world.

In conjunction with the launch of new products, Weleda has optimized its packaging on all re-launched and new facial care products, with a new logo (silver; more modern); product name in multiple languages (English, Spanish and French); introduction of the day or night icon (which now helps the consumer “clear the clutter” and better understand what the products are for); new dispensers on some products for easier application; and FSC packaging, which offers ecological certification.

Clearly Fashionable

In describing his designs for The Art of Clarity collections, and the inspirations he took from jewelry, Marc Rosen commented, “Makeup is all about color and fashion—intensely personal and often unexpected—both possess the potential to take us to new horizons.”

Never could this sentiment be clearer than with the beauty and fragrance lines offered by brands Paul & Joe and Viktor & Rolf.

Shaping the Viktor & Rolf Gift Set Collection 2010

Angelica Del Priore, creative director, assistant vice president, L’Oréal European Designer Fragrances, reveals the inside scoop on the award winning packaging designs.

The concept for the Viktor & Rolf Gift Set Collection 2010 was inspired by the Viktor & Rolf Spring/Summer 2010 collection “Cutting Edge Couture.” The designers used tulle as their material for creating these very interesting, angled, sharp shapes, which were also incorporated into their accessories. We were especially drawn to the birdcage tulle as it has such a clear graphic element.

In October 2009, my team—Jinhee Chu, Bruce Freehoff of Grade A Design and I—were presented with a creative brief from Sejal Shah, marketing AVP. Sejal and her team briefed us to create a holiday gift set collection, and wanted to use the Spring 2010 Viktor & Rolf fashion show as the design inspiration.

We gathered inspiration and created mood boards containing a selection of fashion imagery, material and shapes. We also researched several types of tulle fabric resembling what Viktor & Rolf used in their Spring 2010 fashion collection. We played around with the material on various shapes and, from this exploration, we decided to give our Flowerbomb Holiday Limited Edition bottle a ballerina tutu around its collar, which then became a part of our design proposal. Following this, we sketched for the next two weeks and came up with many designs and construction options. We presented our ideas as sketches to the marketing team and, based on their feedback, we honed in on a handful of the designs. We created design turnovers, which included all specs for shape, size, construction, and material. We developed various tulle patterns and finish options that would cover the exterior, then created comps to narrow down our graphic treatment and finish.

In January 2010, we turned over our approved designs and specs to our amazing technical packaging team, Rose Cleary and Peter Zakhary. Rose and Peter then briefed their selected suppliers that they felt could execute such a project. Bidding and white samples and meetings were exchanged over several weeks. Jeremy Cohen and Mark Villani from Knoll Packaging were chosen in the final selection to be our partner on the collection. Based on their past experiences, and their work with us on such construction over the last few years, we decided it was a perfect fit.

My team and technical packaging met with Knoll to discuss the challenges and particulars of the production. One of the biggest challenges we came across was that we thought we could use board throughout these sets, but the Knoll team submitted white samples all made in board, and unfortunately, the precision we needed was not going to be possible with this method for the entire production. Of course being very proactive, Jeremy and Mark came up with the solution that the only way to execute these sets with the precision needed was to mold the shapes in plastic, then wrap in board, then decorate. From February to the end of March, we reviewed white samples, color and pre-production samples. Within a few weeks, we finally all felt we had it right and handed over all artwork to Knoll at the beginning of April.For the production, the Knoll team had each sample hand-wrapped to have the pattern meet and create a super minimal tolerance for error. We received the last round pre-production samples with our final art in place in mid-April and all was approved.

The shape is constructed from two parts made of GPPS (general purpose poly styrene) 2.5mm injection molded, which is then wrapped with 1mm chipboard. We used gravure printing on 128gsm art paper and created the perfect match pearl pink. We then stamped with a custom-colored match pink foil supplied by API. We glued the exterior edges with 5/8-in. black grosgrain ribbon with silver stamped logos, and created a loop into a bow for the opening. The interior was made of two vacuum forms to hold the products on the left and right side. We finished the vac with a mask made from157gsm art card wrapped with black satin and of course a silver mylar insert to sit behind each product to highlight the positively pink fragrance!
In 1995, Sophie Albou, the designer and creator of Paul & Joe, designed her first menswear collection introducing bright colors, elegance and sport influences; she subsequently introduced a women’s collection, growing the label throughout the world. In 2002, Paul & Joe Beauté was launched. The cosmetics line offers a “fun loving sophistication” featuring retro modern packaging and classic cosmetic colors. Every product in the Beauté collection is luxurious in texture and shade. There are also limited edition collections released every year, which are linked to the season’s fashion, with packaging that is inspired by and utilizes prints seen on the runway each season for Paul & Joe fashion.

The brand’s latest innovative launch created the same level of social media buzz that the innovative pizza packaging did, when the brand introduced a lipstick with a bullet shaped like a cat.

According to Monami Nagai, domestic marketing VP of Paul & Joe Beaute America, “Albou’s favorite animal is a cat, and she wanted to include that in the sculpture of the lipstick as a way of sharing something she truly loves with her consumer.”

After deciding on the cat design, Paul & Joe Beauté enlisted Takumi, a famous sculptor who created specialty animal toys at a company called Kayoudo, to create the mold for a lipstick shape that was the first of its kind. The product was manufactured by Albion Cosmetics, a prestigious cosmetics manufacturer in Japan.

Nagai says consumer reaction has been overwhelming. “While some people question the cat design, true Paul & Joe fans revel in the ornate shape and texture. Paul & Joe has received a very positive response combined with media buzz around this innovative new creation.”

Viktor & Rolf also uses runway cues, most notable recently, in its fashionable and innovative fragrance packaging for Flowerbomb, out now for the holidays in the U.S. Inspiration was derived from the label’s Spring 2010 fashion show collection. The line used a lot of tulle, cut into voluminous shapes. Four different gift box shapes were created based on the designs; each retailer carries one piece, with different price points. The packages were executed by Knoll Printing & Packaging, using injection molded styrene shells, which were then wrapped with custom gravure printed paper. Added decoration includes hot stamped grosgrain ribbon elements and an injection molded cartouche. Inside each set, platforms are decorated with a black satin mask. The sets are closed with magnetic closures. Individual holiday edition bottles of Flowerbomb are especially fashionable, with the addition of a flirty tulle skirt.(For an exclusive behind-the-design look at how the packages were conceived and executed, please see sidebar in this article.)

Clearly Evolving

Whether fashion-inspired, consumer-focused, quick to market, regionally targeted, environmentally motivated—or simply incredibly beautiful or highly functional—innovation holds an important place mark in the lexicon of the beauty industry, and will remain open to new definitions as products and markets evolve.

As Kress, of Estée Lauder, notes: “Innovation will always be new—consumers will always enjoy a unique experience, but there may be a trend to go back toward simplicity.” While he agrees that consumers will still be on the lookout for the latest and greatest, he says he has also noticed a shift. “For instance,” he says, “in the luxury segment, it’s become almost ostentatious to exhibit too much bling. Now it’s stabilizing,” he adds, “and the luxury consumer is becoming more discerning. As consumers gain an appreciation for reliability, innovation will become a blend of new and different and trust and confidence that their investment was worthwhile.”

Ultimately, Kress says, “Innovation is really about bringing products to market,” adding, “we’ll continue to rely on suppliers for innovation.”