HCT Packaging created a luxe chocolate box—complete with makeup pallettes wrapped like chocolate bars—for a Lorac exclusive for Sephora.
Glitzy Gift Sets

Marketers and suppliers are going to great lengths to give packaging exciting new twists, sure to capture the attention of a brand’s customers—and their wallets.



Marketers know that “getting more for your money” is a key concern for consumers today. This may be one reason why gift sets and value sets have been so popular lately, especially at retailers like Sephora.

Suppliers have been fielding many requests for different types of gift sets, which include everything from flashy boxes to cosmetic packaging decorated with crystals—and encompass items such as reusable wallets and bags.

“Gift sets often feature packaging that is reusable, and that can help consumers justify spending money on beauty splurges,” says Sandra Hutson, sales and marketing director, Topline Products. She adds, “As a consumer myself, I see the value in purchasing a set, even when the products are mini sizes. I believe this is one reason why gift sets have been extremely popular—at least among our customers.”

But, with so many beauty brands creating sets, especially during the holiday season, how can you stand out among your competitors—and make sure your packaging is truly gift-worthy?

“Our customers are always looking for something different, instead of just a new type of printing technique or coating on a box,” says Joanna Sasso, vice president of operations, Knoll Printing and Packaging.

Julie Scudder-Feldman, vice president, business development, Anisa International, says that some of their customers know exactly what they want, in terms of design. “This season, we’ve seen a lot of glitzy gold accents, and some beauty cases are also being made from different materials, such as metal,” she says.

Cosfibel has also seen a lot of “gold and glitz” this year—and not only for the holiday season. They created a luxurious gold-metal hinged coffret for Paco Rabanne’s Lady Million fragrance, plus a cuff bracelet. It launched this past spring for Mother’s Day.

While some brands are following design trends, others are taking a completely different approach, depending on what’s appealing to their customer.

Eye Candy

Doubling as “eye candy” is one way to attract attention—as well as borrowing design inspiration from other industries. “Going with a unique design, like a ‘chocolate box,’ adds a very giftable element to a beauty package,” says Nick Gardner, executive vice president, HCT California.

For instance, Lorac’s eye shadow pallets are “wrapped” like chocolate bars, and packed in a luxe gold box, reminiscent of Godiva chocolate. “To execute this design, we utilized materials normally only used in the confectionery market,” says Gardner. The makeup palettes are wrapped in gold foil paper, and are slipped into a sleeve. They are packed in a gold box that looks like a box of Godiva chocolate.

Tune Into Trends


SeaCliff Beauty provided a wristlet case, and dual-ended lip stains, turnkey, for AddictionNV cosmetics.
Vonda Simon, founder and president, SeaCliff Beauty, says she could never pinpoint any specific design directions or trends for gift packaging among her customers. “A concept is always dependent on the project, and design is always very brand-specific, for us,” says Simon. “But, I do look at what fashion designers are doing, and it always inspires the types of bags and pouches I develop. It is still always most important to know your brand, and customer, well,” she adds.

SeaCliff recently developed a gift set, turnkey, for AddictionNV Cosmetics. It’s a hip brand, with an eclectic image, so SeaCliff developed a chic black soft wristlet bag. The zippered bag contains a mirror, cellphone pocket, ID/credit card compartment—and three dual-ended lip stains tucked inside a pocket. The outside of the bag has a quilted pattern. “We went back and forth with our suppliers about three times to make sure the cushioned effect on the bag was exactly what the brand wanted, but that’s typical. Getting it perfect the first time out of the gate is rare—we always expect to do a couple of rounds,” says Simon.

“The details are important,” she adds. Inside, the brand’s logo is embossed on the bag’s lining. There’s a pink bow charm, on a flashy silver chain attached to the bag, which is designed to hook onto another bag or key ring.

“The charm and chain were custom made for our customer, and it adds that extra bit of glitz to make it more elegant,” says Simon.


Topline Products says that multi-use cases filled with cosmetics, such as this one, have been in demand.
Topline Products has also had many requests from customers for bags, pouches and cases.

“Our customers want items that can be used long after the beauty products run out. One customer recently asked us to come up with an item that would have a secondary purpose, so we created a sleek, black portfolio style wallet,” says Hutson.

The wallet was filled with the brand’s eye shadow collection, in pan wells that were held in place inside the wallet with a removable sleeve. “The way the sleeve is designed, the wallet serves as a case until the makeup is used. Then, it turns into a personal organizer,” says Hutson.

Focusing on the Product

Sometimes upstaging the product becomes a concern. The nail polish brand Zoya, marketed by Art of Beauty, wanted to ensure that its glitzy gold nail polish was the main focus of its set, not the packaging. They chose an understated, elegant box for their trio of top coats. The gold nail polish shines brilliantly, especially against the backdrop of the black box, which is covered in faux velvet.

“This set was designed to be a high-end item for salons and spas. Ultimately, our goal was for our customers to be attracted not only to the quality of the product, but to the beautiful packaging as well,” says Leo Reyzis, vice president, Art of Beauty.


Zoya, by Art of Beauty, chose a plain black box to showcase its trio of nail polish top coats.Arrowpak supplies Zoya’s nail polish bottles.
Gift sets can also be a clever way to sell more product, especially when timed for a pre-holiday launch. Zoya’s set has actually sold out quickly, before the holiday season has even started.

“The nail polish business is so hot right now, that any type of nail gift sets are sure to do well in stores, even outside of the holiday season,” says Jim Slowey, vice president of marketing and sales, Arrowpak, which supplies the clear bottles that Zoya uses for its polish.

Zoya’s gift sets have been such hot items for the brand that the company is planning to use a similar box for other product lines, according to Reyzis.

Showcasing a Fragrance


Luxe outer packaging is often created for a fragrance gift set, but taking a few extra measures to make sure the product—as well as a brand’s marketing message—is showcased, is important, according to Knoll Packaging.

The supplier worked with the team at Clarins to execute a design for the Angel fragrance by Thierry Mugler, for its 20th anniversary gift set. Clarins approached the supplier with the design concept for the elaborate box.

Angel’s star-shaped bottle stands inside the box on a PET vacuum form, which tilts the bottle forward slightly, so consumers can easily see its cap—which is covered with Swarovski crystals.


The box for Thierry Mugler’s Angel fragrance’s 20th anniversary features a 3-D star, which Knoll Packaging created from paperboard, using a proprietary process.
The sky-blue box, with two overlapping front doors, is offset printed with a pearl coating. It also has a bottom drawer, filled with a mini scented hair mist, body cream and shower gel. The drawer has a star-shaped metal pull, attached with a screw.

The focal point of the outside of the box is a shiny, three-dimensional star, affixed to one of the box’s doors. The star’s edge is also the door’s edge, which the consumer pulls to open.

The star is made from Mylar-wrapped paperboard, and the team at Knoll developed a proprietary way to produce it. Looking at it, an origami folding technique comes to mind.

Joanna Sasso, vice president of operations, Knoll Packaging, says, “Its 3-D appearance is due to the construction method we developed. It is made separately and then glued onto the carton’s front door.”

At the start of this project, the team at Knoll created an animated 3-D rendering, according to Sasso. “We were able to show Clarins what the entire box would look like, including the star. The rendering has animation, so they could see how the drawer pulls out,” says Sasso. “Once the design was approved, we made our first comp, and then pre-production moved quickly.Very few adjustments had to be made,” she explains.

The biggest challenge for Knoll was getting the star shape exactly right. “It had to be perfect, to look identical to the Angel star, because it’s the iconic symbol of the brand,” says Sasso.

Replicating a Fashionable Pattern

While some brands go their own way in terms of design, addressing the needs of their customers, Anisa International’s Scudder-Feldman says that Sephora is one of its customers that always knows exactly what they want in terms of design.

“While our other customers appreciate seeing different ideas, Sephora’s product development team is extremely trend-driven and always knows exactly what they want,” she says.


Anisa International used its heat transfer technology to replicate a pattern, using it on a clutch bag and brush handles.
The team at Anisa developed a clutch bag and 5-piece brush set for the Sephora Collection’s new Deco Daze gift set. A glitzy gold art deco pattern is the focal point of this set, which was based on the look of a designer bag.

The clutch bag is a hard case style, with a clasp closure and long gold chain. The bag is encased with a shiny gold cutout pattern, made from metal. The brushes are decorated with a gold motif that matches the bag.

The team at Anisa used its heat transfer technology to create artwork that matched the bag’s pattern, perfectly. “To execute the design, we first created the artwork to mirror the bag design, then we wrapped the artwork around the brush handles,” says Scudder-Feldman.

Replicating a design across different materials is often a challenge. The brush handles are plastic, while the pattern on the clutch bag is made from metal.The bag also has a few luxe details, such as Sephora’s “S” logo on the top button closure.

Trends for 2013 Holiday

Many suppliers have already begun working on next year’s gift sets. So, what are the trends?

“We’re still seeing a very luxe look, but softer and more neutral colors are also very popular— especially for next fall. Softer colors are being adorned with edgier accessories like metal studs and grommets,” says Scudder-Feldman. “For the 2013 holiday season, glitz, glitter and metal accents aren’t going anywhere. We’re still seeing lots of animal prints as well.”

Knoll is also thinking ahead to next year. “We’ll be working on concepts for boxes that involve LED lights,” says Sasso. “We’ll be incorporating more movement into some of our boxes, as well.”