Head Over Heels for Nails
New products continue to drive category growth, increasing the demand for all types of nail product packaging.
For Essie’s signature square bottle, the brand worked with Arrowpak to etch its logo onto the glass. The color shown here, Mademoiselle, is Essie’s best-selling shade.
According to The Beauty Company’s 2013 Pink Report, “The Allure of Nail Color,” four out of five women own 10 or more bottles of color.
It’s a telling statistic that points to the phenomenal growth the category has experienced over the last few years. And with new nail products being launched on a nearly constant basis, there’s no end in sight for demand from salon professionals to do-it-yourselfers.
Sales in the category have taken the beauty business by storm. Market research from The NPD Group shows that the nail segment—which includes color enamel, base/top coats and nail care products—generated $33 million in sales year-to-date through November 2012. The segment posted a 49% growth in dollar sales compared to the same period last year. Color enamel alone increased an astounding 51% in dollars for the period. The brands in the top three slots for best-selling color enamels were, in order, according to NPD’s Beauty Trends report: Chanel Le Vernis, Butter London 3 Free Nail Lacquer and Dior Rouge Vernis.
The DIY contingent has played a strong role in increasing sales, says Packaged Facts’ publisher David Sprinkle. He says that there has been a continuous flow of innovative technologies and products that are designed to help women imitate nail salon effects at home, and this has been a driving force in the growth of the nail care category.
Of course, the runaway popularity of the nail trend has also benefited packaging suppliers. All of the suppliers we spoke to continue to see an increasing demand for all types of nail polish packaging.
Arrowpak supplies bottles, caps and brushes to major nail polish brands, along with being a destination for start-up companies. Jim Slowey, vice president of marketing and sales for the company, says, “Nail polish is now a huge player in the game of beauty, and more and more brands seem to want to be a part of it. We have been—and are still—seeing tremendous growth in the gel sector, along with every other type of nail product.”
The fact that the nail category has become so competitive means there is more of a need for nail brands to use a unique shaped bottle, or an unusual type of decoration, to help them stand out from others.
Essie’s instantly recognizable square bottle has stood the test of time. Essie Weingarten, the brand’s founder, decided to add a logo to the bottle in 1999, and Essie is still one of the few nail brands to do this. Essie worked with Arrowpak to etch the logo onto the glass.
“More of our nail customers are just now becoming interested in taking advantage of our design capabilities,” says Slowey. He adds, “Any brand can create their own private bottle design the same way Orly, Zoya and Essie have done in the past. The ability to differentiate from the rest is certainly a competitive advantage.”
Round bottles are another classic choice, a shape which Slowey says was made famous by Brucci. “Round shapes continue to be popular, and probably always will be,” he says.
Piramal often works with its customers to achieve unique bottle shapes. One brand Piramal works with has a difficult bottle shape to achieve, according to Bill Reed, vice president sales and marketing, Piramal.
“Generally, you would set up a machine for an oval, rounded or flat panel design, but for this unique bottle we set the machinery up for two different shapes, so it is a challenge. It is almost as if you are fusing two bottles together, because the back is rounded, and the front is a tapered panel. It is difficult to maintain the glass distribution,” Reed explains.
To serve brands with small minimums, Reed says that Piramal keeps many of its most requested standard bottle shapes in its NJ warehouse. “A smaller company can choose what we have available, without having to meet high minimums,” says Reed.
Using a unique cap is another way to help differentiate a brand. Snooki, of MTV’s Jersey Shore fame, has launched a new nail polish line, and the bottles have zebra-striped caps.
Topline Products offers a unique patented cap design, called Glitter Sprinkle. Users can open the cap to sprinkle on a glitter top coat. “It’s extremely easy to use,” says Sandra Hutson, sales and marketing director, Topline Products.
New product innovation often drives the demand for new types of packaging, and this is now happening in the nail category. Many new products are geared toward replicating the look of a professional manicure at home.
Another one of Topline Products’ new packages, a nail polish decorating pen, is designed to help replicate the look of a salon manicure. “Convenience, ease of use, versatility and speed are key requirements for nail packaging,” says Hutson. “With this in mind, we are continuing to develop a wide range of packaging options, including double ended nail pens which combine a patented water based nail pen system,” she explains. “Users are able to create nail art or French manicure designs with a dual purpose top and base coat lacquer. This gives the consumer the benefit of having a full French manicure or a nail art product in one portable unit.”
Nail appliques, such as adhesive strips, offer additional ways to decorate nails with ease. Essie has just launched Sleek Stick, a UV-cured nail applique.
Topline Products also has the ability to design and develop nail stickers and strips, and can create complex 3-D designs from a single color. “Pricing is extremely competitive, and lead times are very short,” says Hutson.
At-home gel polish kits, such as this best-selling one by Red Carpet Manicure, are extremely popular. The bottles require a protective coating to shield the gel polish from light.
Gel polish kits have become hugely popular. At-home gel nail products are used to replicate the long-lasting wear of a professional salon manicure—and they are a marketer’s dream. Women need many different products to use this type of at-home nail color, and they are often packaged as a pricey kit. A light source is needed to cure the polish, which can be LED or UV-based. Plus, there are several types of treatment products that must be applied, in addition to color. Gel polish must be packaged in protective bottles that are colored or coated to protect the product from curing inside the bottle.
Panasonic is even getting into the nail care business. The company is launching this electronic device in the spring. It is designed to make it easier to remove gel polish.
Red Carpet Manicure launched at Ulta in 2011, and was the first at-home gel polish system cured with an LED light. It has since become the best-selling gel nail color brand in the world that is sold through mass market channels, according to the company.
As one of the first brands to sell gel polish in mass market retailers, Red Carpet Manicure faced many packaging challenges. Barry Shields, managing partner at Red Carpet Manicure, says that developing its coated bottles was a difficult process. “It was very long and tedious,” says Shields. “There was no off-the-shelf technology that allowed us to meet our demanding standards. We tested hundreds of submissions of various bottle coatings to ensure that the gel not only got to the consumer without having cured in the bottle, but that it had a stable shelf life after purchase.”
After much fine-tuning and lots of trial-and-error, Shields says they created a proprietary coating process and are very happy with the results. “We use a variety of coating suppliers and are exploring new vendors constantly. The core few we have worked with to perfect the coating process are world class. Some of our packaging vendors have even tested new technologies that have never been used in color cosmetics to enhance our packaging and coating challenges,” Shields adds.
The long-wearing benefit of gel polish also poses removal issues for users. Recognizing this, Panasonic is getting in on the gel polish craze. The company is launching a battery-operated gel polish remover this spring. Panasonic’s electronic device includes a gel sanding attachment that buffs nails, making it easier for nail polish remover to penetrate. It also has a decoration remover and cuticle care attachment to gently peel gel polish from nails.
The popularity of gel polish is bringing new business to many companies, including Bottle Coatings, which had never been involved in the cosmetic industry. Its industrial powder coatings, which are now used on nail polish bottles, were mainly used for various other applications, such as architecture, appliances and automotive parts.
“Recently, it seems like everyone wants to launch a gel polish product, and these at-home nail polish gels have certainly been driving the growth of the nail category,” says Shivie Dhillon, president, Bottle Coatings. Bottle Coatings is one of the few suppliers that develop powder coatings that preserve the shelf life of UV-curing gel polish.
New High Glass has launched new amber bottles that have protective coatings for gel nail formulas.
Other types of coatings are also used to create protective bottles, and are used by some nail brands. New High Glass has a new amber-colored bottle that is spray-coated to protect light-sensitive nail product formulations. “Using an amber bottle, and then spray coating that, rather than starting with clear glass, gives a product extra protection,” says Len Loffler, marketing director, New High Glass, Inc.
The bottle by New High Glass (shown above), is available in amber, black or white. The supplier has also invested in keeping some of these bottles in stock, so they are available for a company that might need to order a lower minimum.
Spraying the bottles can also serve as a protectant. Piramal’s Reed says that he often receives requests for spraying bottles, to protect gel polishes. “Our spray colors offer a brilliance that is hard to achieve with other types of coatings, and many of our customers use them on traditional nail polish bottles, solely for aesthetics, rather than protection,” he says.
Piramal Glass is a supplier to many major nail polish brands. “We supply half of all the nail polish bottles in the world,” says Reed. Although the supplier is better known for glass, it also has a large decorating facility in Williamstown, NJ.
“We have made significant investments and now have twelve furnaces in operation worldwide—nine in India, one in Sri Lanka and two in Flat River, MO, for customers who prefer to manufacture domestically,” says Reed.
Arrowpak also offers a spray coating for bottles, to protect gel formulas. “After much research we have found that by spraying the bottle and then using a powder coating, you will get the best protection. We can also color match the coating to the polish color,” says Slowey.
Bottle Coatings says that its powder coatings are chip resistant, and compatible with any nail product formulation. Nail brands began asking the company for its help a little over a year ago, and were requesting alternative solutions to protect light-sensitive gel polish.
“Amber-colored bottles offer some protection, but not enough for some light-sensitive gel formulations. Liquid coatings were available, but they will react with some nail product formulas,” says Dhillon.
Bottle Coatings developed a way to coat nail polish bottles at a rapid rate. “We had to alter the chemistry of our powder, to make sure it would flow and coat the glass bottles evenly without sagging,” explains Dhillon.
Next, the supplier performed extensive testing, and recently developed its own methods to ensure both UVA and UVB wavelengths would be blocked, and that its coatings would also be resistant to all of the different types of chemicals used in nail polish formulations.
Besides being functional, Bottle Coatings also considers aesthetics. “One of the first challenges we faced when we began working with the cosmetic industry, was to develop the wide range of appealing colors that marketers needed, to ‘pop’ on store shelves,” says Dhillon. “Our chemists figured out how to make sure our colors looked rich, vibrant and luminous. Brands kept coming to us with more demands, and now we can ensure that a bottle’s exterior coating will match the gel polish color inside—complete with the right levels of metallic flecks, Dhillon explains. Bottle Coatings now offers 175 different coating colors.
Dhillon says that a brand will often ask them for a sample for testing, but it’s not necessary. “This is up to them, of course, but we can confidently explain that extra testing is not necessary—we are that sure our coatings will resist any type of nail polish formulation,” says Dhillon.
New product innovations have been driving the nail category, but have a few, such as gel polish, changed the future of the nail category forever—or will consumers’ love of at-home nail products become a passing fad?
Arrowpak’s Slowey thinks the craze has endurance. “It is always a matter of how long a trend lasts, but it seems that gel nail color could stay around forever,” he says. “If you notice the addition of nail bars and additional shelf space at the local beauty and drug stores you know retailers are betting that the growth will continue.”
Marketers agree. Gel nail color is here to stay, and it’s a new standard in nail decoration, for two major reasons, says Shields. “First, it is the unparalleled wear that gel technology delivers. The number of salons that have been offering this service for the past four years continues to increase by double digits each year—and women who have tried gel technology are not going back to ordinary polish,” he explains.
“Second, expressing personality on your nails as a fashion accessory is best done with gel nail color. These trends are a great indicator of the future of the mass market appeal for do-it-yourself gel nail color,” Shields adds with certainty.
According to the experts at Packaged Facts, there are combinations of trends that are creating conditions favorable to market growth. There is currently an increase in the number of at-home DIY nail care products; an overlap between women who use professional nail care services, and women who make frequent use of DIY nail care products; and rapid growth in the population of multicultural women, who are much more likely than non-Hispanic white women to be frequent nail care product users.
Researchers at The Beauty Company agree as well. They say that most women are “obsessed” with nail polish—and they even go so far as to call it a “favorite beauty addiction for 99% of all women.” The market research company studied the psychology behind this obsession in its 2013 Pink Report, and says that women have an emotional connection to nail polish.
The nail category seems to have changed forever, and packaging suppliers may continue to reap the benefits.