Dr Benjamin Punchard, Senior Global Packaging Analyst, Mintel
Online Exclusive: Thinking Outside the Nail Polish Bottle

In the consolidated nail color packaging market, it can pay to stand out.

By Dr. Benjamin Punchard, senior global packaging analyst, Mintel

Nail color cosmetics are, at first sight, not a very innovative category for packaging. Though nail foils, strips, stickers and other innovative formats exist—bringing some cartons and blister packs—in the main, nail color is the traditional polish/lacquer/enamel. As such, bottles dominated launches in 2012, accounting for 92% of global launches in the category. Pack sizes are also rarely given much freedom—the most popular size is 10ml, and 94% of global nail bottles launched in 2012 were in the 5-15ml size range.

MAC's Taste Temptations.
So, given this quite astounding pack type consolidation, how can a brand stand out on the shelf?

Clearly consumers will be choosing primarily on color, but the quality of nail polish varies hugely and in the current frugal economic climate, consumers will just not buy unless they trust a product to deliver. So, packaging must be an integral part of communicating the quality and positioning of the product.

One strategy that was leveraged for about 25% of global launches in 2012 is the use of secondary packaging, usually a board carton. Often this can provide a uniform brand image across a color cosmetics brand range, which utilizes a number of primary pack types.


Nail Inc.'s Crystal Color.
this puts a barrier between the consumer and the key purchase decider—the color of the product. This is avoided in many cases by having a cutout window in the carton. Alternatively POS color charts and displays can effectively demonstrate nail colors and may even be more effective for those products that display visual effects, which only really become apparent once applied. However, as with all POS marketing, this relies on the retailer to properly position in store. One potential downfall of the carton route is the possibility of shoppers opening the boxes while browsing to take a closer look, particularly those that are fully enclosed, with torn and handled packaging definitely not a look that any brand owner wants.

It seems that a growing trend is to enhance the size of the closure in order to give a greater visual. Though many closures retain the long slim profile that makes them an easy handle for the applicator brush, many are now switching to more bulky sized closures that match the diameter of the bottle. A good example is The M.A.C Taste Temptation collection for Winter 2012, which provides a very attractive profile when closed but may provide poor ergonomic function when being applied. Nails Inc’s Crystal Colour 2012 collection adds a touch of sparkle and maybe a slightly better grip with jewel detailing on the cap.

The Dior Grand Ball collection is reminiscent of a fragrance package.
No matter how good the product looks in the packaging, it needs to look good when applied and consumers need to be reassured that they can get a professional finish. Rimmel 60 Seconds achieves this with an Xpress Flat Brush, said to enable one-second application. Another “helping hand” that packaging can offer is the use of magnets in the pack to interact with a magnetic polish to give almost 3D-like effects. Though Lancôme launched Le Magnetique Star Design Nail Lacquer back in 2007, it appears that this really took off in 2012 with Mintel recording 52 magnetic nail color launches globally, including Quo by Orly Magnetic Attract & Repel Nail Polish.

The Anna Sui Black Veil collection has a feminine silhouette.
Offering something different in the form of texture as well as color has led to brands creating a new niche of nail packaging accessories that help to achieve special effects. For example, Ciaté’s Caviar Manicure pack contains a plastic tray and a tiny funnel to enable the application of “attention grabbing” teal beads to a gold base coat, while Nails Inc's Bling It On packs contain a hemispherical plastic tray which allows the consumer to roll her nails in the glitter, as well as a “dusting brush.”

The Dior Grand Bal collection for Christmas 2012 includes a nail polish in a pack reminiscent of a perfume bottle, which manages to offer the standard functionality while really standing out.

The Anna Sui Black Veil collection for Christmas 2012 also moves away from the standard simple shaping to offer a feminine silhouette that also brings to mind a fragrance bottle. Both these examples would look good displayed in the home and show that when all around you are going for simple shapes with few sides, extreme shaping can really make your product jump out from the crowd.

About the author:
 As Mintel’s Senior Global Packaging Analyst, Benjamin is responsible for delivering actionable insight drawing on his 8 years of extensive international experience. Over this time he has worked with the leading multinational packaging companies to provide strategic market recommendations. Benjamin holds significant experience in conceiving, conducting and delivering quantitative and qualitative research.
For an exclusive report that looks at the increasing rate of BPC growth at Walmart, see Something Old, Something New by Victoria Gustafson, principal of strategic insights at SymphonyIRI.

See suppliers' new types of nail polish packaging, and new products driving growth in Head Over Heels for Nails.