Demand Grows for Small Packages

Quality and precision is paramount when it comes to printing samples, as demonstrated by this example from Label Technology.

Not only for sampling use, small-sized products are taking the packaging world by storm.

Urban Decay and Fusion Packaging teamed together on the packaging for Urban Decay Naked Skin.
Buyers of beauty brand Urban Decay have come to expect edgy, unique designs from its packaging. Urban Decay’s Naked Skin is no exception, offering liquid foundation in an airless container punctuated by gunmetal metallic accents.

When the brand needed a smaller sized package that still represented the look and feel of the full-size version, they turned once again to Fusion Packaging. Starting with a clarified polypropylene package, “Fusion Packaging helped them achieve this goal by decorating the overcap to match. This was accomplished through custom color injection for the overcap,” explains Leslie Gadomski, vice president of sales for Fusion. The Naked Skin samples were given away to employees of beauty retailers as well as to customers in an effort to promote the product launch.

Urban Decay additionally tapped the expertise of Arcade Marketing for its Naked Skin launch. For this initiative, samples were enclosed in Arcade’s BeautiPod sampling systems. The BeautiPod samples are offered to online customers of Sephora and Ulta.

In another example, Clarins launched its sampling campaign for the Alien by Thierry Mugler fragrance. The brand chose Imagin, from Aptar Gift + Promotion, a spray-able sampling product that can be inserted into magazines or used as a mailer. Since the sampler launch three years ago, the brand has reported double-digit growth and is considered a “Top 30” brand in America, according to Aptar.

Finally, Mary Kay tapped the expertise of Aphena Health & Beauty for its lipgloss sampler. The brand chose Aphena’s Sampling Stix, multi-use sample packages that can be fitted with a variety of applicator tips.

Urban Decay used Arcade’s BeautiPod to sample four different shades of its new Naked Skin liquid makeup.
“Aphena’s Sampling Stix for this program were constructed using an injected molded container. The cap portion was highlighted with a clear jewel on the cap simulating a diamond. The bottle was filled and labeled and finally packaged in a tray containing six different shades and covered by a silk-screened printed clear sleeve. The program resulted in a huge success for this promotional campaign,” says Dominick Montano, general manager and vice president of sales and marketing for Aphena.

As demonstrated above, one small size

Alien by Thierry Mugler used the Imagin sampler from Aptar Beauty + Home in its sampling campaign.
doesn’t fit all. Small-size packages represent a large range of diversity in terms of shape, structure and purpose. No matter what form it takes, however, demand for small packages is growing.

“Overall, there are more sample, trial and travel-sized products on the market than ever before. Consumers have a lot of choices when it comes to beauty products today and as brands fight for market share, it’s important that they reach consumers in any way that they can to promote their products and differentiate themselves from the competition,” says Gadomski.

Mary Kay tapped the expertise of Aphena Health & Beauty for its lipgloss sampler.


Although sampling is nothing new, some suppliers say the need continues to increase, fueling more growth in the small-size packaging industry. “Sampling has been a productive way to market products for decades, but in the past there weren’t as many product companies putting out nearly as many products as there are today. As the number of products grows and diversifies, sampling grows even more advantageous to product companies,” comments Anthony Gentile, director of art and marketing for XelaPack.

A sample’s intended distribution plays a large role in how the sampling package is constructed. Is the product a giveaway, gift-with-purchase, or sold at an affordable price? The answer can determine cost parameters of a sample package. Will it lay flat in a magazine, be mailed in a box or handed out? This too will help determine the package’s shape and design.

“Most companies are still giving away their samples at the retail level, via an assortment of samples inside a box or as a ride-along in a protective package,” says Margery Woodin, vice president of marketing and sales for Identipak.

While distribution via retail channels allows for creativity in terms of structure, strategy is still important in terms of cost-effectiveness and practicality. As an example, “giving away several servings of the sample can sometimes be counter-productive, in terms of impulse purchase, particularly for small-size products between two and four ounces,” Woodin states.

Some experts have noted that department stores are shifting their approach when it comes to samples—using samples as an opportunity to better educate the consumer and enhance interaction between consultants and customers. “In-store consultants are guiding consumers in trying new products. Consumers will leave the store with samples, providing them with more time to make the final decision,” says Sylvie Darensbourg, regional market development manager for Aptar Gift + Promotion.

Many brands also choose to reach customers via mail, which has its own packaging challenges. “Many contract fillers of samplers specialize in distribution methods. Some companies create sampler packages for magazine use with methods suited for postal and bindery requirements,” says Montano.

The 22ml XelaPack One answers customer requests for a package that can be opened without the tab tearing entirely off.
The distribution of samples continues to evolve. “Through the years of providing packaging film for packettes, we have seen sample distribution methods increase from a sample provided at a cosmetic counter with purchase or a trade show promotion, to sampling programs such as Birchbox and Beauty Army, where the consumer is actually paying a fee to try samples of full-size products,” says Dennis Deisenroth, vice president of flexible packaging for Label Technology.

The Internet has also spurred different ways to distribute samples. “We have seen more ingenious and creative packaging used to deliver samples. Many online companies have structured their business models around distributing samples for the industry, free of charge to manufacturers, to gain insight into consumer trends,” remarks Woodin.

Additional Growth Channels

Yet despite the strong demand in sampling, demand from other areas is also contributing to small package growth. Gentile says travel restrictions have increased the use of smaller-scale packages within this application, and he has also seen an increase in small packages used as amenities. “Many product companies are finding that cruise lines, hotels, and other destinations are great locations for selling smaller-scale products,” adds Gentile.

French manufacturer Livcer has witnessed rapid change in the small packaging industry in the past decade. “In the 2000s, ninety-five percent of our productions were intended for sampling. Now more than twenty-five percent of the unit doses we produce are sold as saleable products,” says Aude DeLivonniere-Fourgous, managing director. She attributes the shift to the need for precise daily dosages, where unit dose sizes are packaged together and sold as a full retail product.

James Alexander Corporation’s expertise is in unit-dose packaging, rather than containers used in sampling applications. “Single-use packages are a convenience and a necessity. Two prime examples are working mothers who need easy-to-use, simple, transportable packages for daycare professionals, and the travel industry’s tight carry-on restrictions for container sizes,” comments Carol Gamsby, director of sales.

“Apart from sampling, smaller-scale packages are used for travel-sizes and products that require specific dosing,” agrees Karla Horton, marketing manager for Unicep Packaging, Inc. “Retail skin care treatments are often packaged in kits containing product in single-use packaging so that the consumer knows exactly which product and how much product to use each day. I think that single-use packaging has evolved in general over the past decade due to the need for dosage control, precise dispensing and convenience.”


Arcade’s PowdaSilk provides customers with a similar experience to that of using a compact.
Given the diverse packaging requirements and intended brand purposes within the small package segment, manufacturers have responded with a wide range of products to meet the needs of clients and their customers. Following is a look at some of the latest sample, unit-dose and trial size technologies.

Fusion Packaging is offering miniature airless bottles to compliment many of its full-size products and collections. Ranging in size from 5- through 10ml, the mini versions can be decorated in multiple ways to build and maintain a brand’s image. “To actually pump the product out is part of the consumer experience,” says Gadomski. “We have many customers who package their products in our full-size collections but also offer the same product in a smaller, travel-sized option as well.”

Similarly, “Our network of component suppliers is always introducing smaller-size packages, whether it be for airless requirements, tube packaging, bottles and tottles,” comments Montano. Aphena’s latest mini-component is a LDPE tottle offered in 2-, 3- and 5ml sizes. “These packages can be printed, and when combined with unique graphic designs, can offer brand owners a precious delivery of their product,” he adds.

A unique twist to the traditional resin bottle and recently introduced from XelaPack, the 22ml XelaPack One is part of its “paperbottle” sample line. Flat-formed on the bottom and engineered to be environmentally friendly, the package additionally features a wide bend-and-tear tab enabling consumers to open the package without tearing the tab off. Designed mainly with amenities in mind, this product was added in direct response to customer concerns that a completely removed tab could clog drains.

Unicep Packaging has launched its new, single-use SwabDose packaging.
Graphics often take center-stage on small packages because they provide a natural way to stay true to the brand while keeping costs reasonable. Packets are an important tool in sampling campaigns, and due to their small size, require precision and skill in the printing process.

Label Technology has teamed with Kao USA to design and print sample packettes. “The challenge for Label Technology is to produce a high quality print job in a very small area. This requires an ability to print extremely fine type with matte and gloss finishes that cause graphics to pop against the background of the packettes and give that 3D look,” says Deisenroth.

Packets can also leverage shape as a differentiator. Identipak focuses its attention on die-cut sachets to successfully promote products. “A cost effective and attractive solution is to offer die-cut, shaped sachets since these detail the look of the retail package, allowing for product differentiation and branding,” says Woodin. She suggests the use of a carrier/information card to educate users on the product.

There are many other ways to successfully and creatively deliver products to the intended audience, while upholding brand messaging. Brands choosing which sampling technology is the best fit should take into consideration factors such as distribution, cost, and the type of experience they wish to provide to consumers.

Arcade offers a diverse range of sampling technologies. Among them, BeautiPod is a sampling technology that holds enough product for a full trialing experience. Used for creams, hair products, lotions or foundations, BeautiPod can be distributed through a variety of channels including retail stores, online distribution, cross-promotions or magazines. An easy-to-use spout allows precise dosage and a carrier card enables customized imagery and branding.

The company has also introduced PowdaSilk, which provides customers with a similar experience to that of using a compact. The sample is opened and the bottom intuitively becomes the applicator. PowdaSilk is designed for handouts at beauty counters, direct sell, retail trial, promotional distribution, magazine and catalog inserts.

Another way to make a powerful brand statement, “Thermoforming technology is very flexible and allows for a great diversity of shapes,” explains DeLivonniere-Fourgous of Livcer. The company specializes in thermoformed unit doses for sampling and saleable products. It offers 80 standard shapes, but a customer can also choose “to create a mold that would be a faithful replica of its larger product,” she adds. Recently, the company introduced the COLORKIT in the market, a small makeup case for solid foundation or hot-pour lipstick or eye shadow. This multi-use, flat sampler is tailored for high-end sampling or as an affordable, saleable trialing product.

As mentioned earlier, in its application for Thierry Mugler, Imagin is a sampling technology that can be inserted in magazines or used as a mailer. In addition to the ability to spray, the package, from Aptar Gift + Promotion, also contains “a large area of communication that can be dedicated to a message to a particular audience,” says Darensbourg.

Whether the intent is to spray, dab or slather on product, application is also an important consideration when it comes to choosing a sample, unit dose or trial package.

For eye creams, serums or even fragrance, James Alexander Corporation offers a 0.6ml glass swab package. Available tips include a rounded, molded, porous polyethylene applicator that has a roller-ball feel.

Suppliers continue to deliver unique concepts. This month, Unicep Packaging has launched its new, single-use SwabDose packaging, a polypropylene package with a swab dispenser. “The packaging can be any color and labeled or printed with the product and branding details,” says Horton. Snapping to open, “the consumer can use the saturated swab to specifically apply the product. It’s great for skin care products, acne medication, oral care products, nail products and more.”