NPD Group recently revealed that among women who subscribe to makeup sample subscription programs, 83% were influenced to buy the full-sized product, with women aged 35-54 ranking as the most likely to be influenced by samples (2014 Makeup In-Depth Consumer Report).
“The idea of offering samples has been around for some time, but sample subscription programs are a fresh way for manufacturers and retailers to engage with interested consumers and monetize their sample programs, while consumers discover brands or products they may not have been aware of previously,” says Karen Grant, NPD’s vice president and global beauty industry analyst—and a member of Beauty Packaging’s Board of Advisors. “Women strive to find a makeup product that works for them, and when they do, that is the primary reason they become loyal to it.”
When Isagenix launched its seven-product “Rejuvity” skincare system to hydrate, illuminate and rejuvenate the skin, the company sought sample packaging that conveyed the importance of how well the products worked in concert. The solution, executed by McAllen, TX-based Identipak Inc., consisted of a sample that included all seven products, could be distributed by mail or at point of sale and had educational information for the consumer—all with the same elegance of their retail package.
Knowing that a “seven up” tandem would be too wide to mail, Identipak’s team created two tandems, one four-chamber assorted tandem and a second trio, with each chamber holding one of the products from the regime. Elegantly angled corners and smooth seals were crafted to echo the line’s upscale positioning, and a heavy, matte-laminated informational card lent an additional elegant feel and touch, explains Margery Woodin, Identipak’s vice president of marketing and sales. To tie it together, a carrier card that holds both tandem packs together provided clear usage instructions for effective results.
NeoStrata faced a similar situation when it decided to create a trial-sized version of its two-step Exuviance Performance Peel AP25. The regular sized product contains 26 packettes—13 each of the Step 1 Activator Pad and the Step 2 Neutralizer Pad. “Unlike typical sampling, where a fraction of the product is offered for trial, NeoStrata chose to offer full-sized packettes of their Step 1 and Step 2 formulas for customers to try,” says Stephanie Hayano, general manager, Acupac, Mahwah, NJ. “The packaging design for the samples is the retail design, an excellent one-to-one portrayal of the regular business product.”
The packettes supplied by Acupac were dual-chambered with no visible outside seam, and contained single-dose, dry-to-wet towelettes. “The towelettes appear dry to the touch initially, but upon application, the warmth of the skin ‘melts’ the formula into the skin for moisturizing benefits,” explains Hayano.
“Beauty products tend to be expensive, which means that it is a challenge to convince customers to buy a big expensive bottle of product for the first time,” observes Pascal Niggli, co-founder, Advantage Line Global LLC, Santa Monica, CA. “Sampling in monodose packs…gives the customer a chance to test the product before they buy the big package or tube of product.”
Delivering a unique experience doesn’t begin and end with the product contained inside the package; it applies to the consumer experience with the package design, too. Niggli points to Advantage Line Global’s Easysnap sachets as an example. A typical, tear-open, four-fold sachet can be messy. Easysnap sachets open with a snap and dispense with a squeeze, and are designed to dispense 99% of the product. “This makes it a very efficient package with low product waste,” he said, noting that the samples worked well for Kallista, a North American company dedicated to the health and wellbeing of beauty professionals, when it wanted to deliver samples of a specially formulated cream to hairdressers.
Sophisticated formulations—especially those in the anti-aging skincare segment—are driving the popularity of airless mini packaging due to their ability to preserve and protect sensitive ingredients. An added benefit of airless minis is that they tend to bear a striking resemblance to standard-sized products, reinforcing brand continuity.
“Airless minis provide the same great benefits of standard airless packages, such as precision dosing, near 100% product evacuation, and quicker strokes to prime—that is, the average number of pumps it takes to begin dispensing a new product,” says Jessica Cahalen, director of marketing, Fusion Packaging, Dallas, TX. “Airless systems also protect the formulas by keeping outside air from entering the container and contaminating the product, making them ideal for formulas with active ingredients.”
Cahalen also says that samples have become a strategic element in the product development launch process. “It is more important than ever that samples mimic their full-size counterparts in order to drive home brand recognition and packaging familiarity that can lead to sales,” she says, adding that now more than ever, brands are embracing the role of samples as future purchase drivers. “If a sample is essentially a ‘trial run’ for a new product, brands need to ensure that every detail of the mini—from the dosage to the decoration—positively represents the product and the brand.”
Fusion recently collaborated with Dermalogica to provide airless sample packaging for six of its PowerBright TRx Series. Dermalogica’s full-sized Pure Light SPF 50 Broad Spectrum, Pure Night, and C-12 Pure Bright Serum are packaged in 50ml airless packaging from Fusion’s Pure and Lift collections, and the company wanted sample-sized packaging that matched. Fusion delivered three 10ml Lift Slim and Lift Mini airless bottles that were decorated with the line’s signature teal hue, silkscreened artwork and custom color injected overcaps.
Label Technology, Merced, CA, created the sample packettes for Dermalogica’s PowerBrightTRx Series, and Marygrace Quigley, the supplier’s customer communications manager, says the mirroring trend is similar on non-airless sample packaging. “Our beauty customers continue to push the envelope with their desire to replicate the high-end decorating aspects of their full size bottle or jars on their sample packettes,” says Quigley. “This could mean the challenge of printing packettes with anything from an image with a shimmery gold effect using metallic ink to a pearlized bottle or a matte finish to provide a frosted look. At the same time we need to be able to provide the optimal material for the application, whether it is to contain a hard-to-hold product or the capability to withstand a magazine insert application.”
One of Label Technology’s recent sampling endeavors was a Dermalogica Deluxe Sampler Pack. The project required that a set of sample products—spanning a cleanser, exfoliator, moisturizer and eye cream—be packaged together within an overwrap, allowing the consumer to trial before purchasing high-end beauty products.
“We continue to see the growth of providing a sample set of products, where the consumer receives a series of products combined in a single sample package,” explains Quigley.
Fragrance is another segment that is increasingly linking samples to full-sized products. For Parfums de Cœur’s recently launched Vampire and Vampire Midnight fragrances, the company chose handbag-friendly 15ml, thick-walled, PET vials that were supplied and filled by partner companies, Precise Plastics and Precise Packaging of Fall River, MA. Because PET is glass-like and lends itself to the use of translucent colors, the Parfums de Cœur vials are vividly shaded in red and purple, capped off with a custom-molded PET cap and an adhesive label.
Orlandi, Farmingdale, NY, took a uniquely different approach to sampling when it created a fragranced, cosmetic-based tattoo for Burberry Brit to coincide with the launch of its new Rhythm fragrance. “Our patented Tat@Go applicator technology allows us to create, produce and deliver very detailed, one color designs that make ‘tattoo sampling’ a great alternative for any fine fragrance brand,” says Kay Volmar, Orlandi’s marketing manager. “The tattoo is hygienically sealed with a clear cover that protects it from contamination and abrasion and provides an odor barrier for optimal fragrance retention.”
Simulating the At-Home Experience
Trying a product in a store is one thing, but being able to try a product at home is sampling’s real differentiating factor. “[Consumers] need to be assured that the product is effective, not irritating, etc.,” says Diane Crecca, senior vice president of sales, marketing and business development, Arcade Marketing, New York, NY. “They want to try the product in real time, in their own environment [and they] want to use the sample more than once in order to affirm it is what they want to purchase.”
Arcade recently produced samples for Desert Essence Whitening Plus and Ultra Care toothpastes using its BeautiPod sampling configuration—a first for Arcade in the oral care arena. The toothpastes were packaged in a laminate material to ensure the best compatibility with the active natural ingredients and the graphics were kept consistent with their retail product graphics so that the consumer could identify the product readily. “It was a great fit,” Crecca recalls. “It was very portable, eye-catching and easy to distribute and ship.”
A long-term customer of Sonic Packaging, Westwood, NJ, recently sought to create a trial program for its new line of eight lotions and creams, but wasn’t sure of the most efficient manner to achieve their short and long term goals. “The driving force on this sampling program was trial of the complete line of products, and to ensure the consumer would use the products in proper sequence for maximum benefit,” says Sonic’s Doug Rofheart.
The Sonic team produced a regimen of five products (Product line A) and another regimen of three products (Product line B) that were connected by perforated, multi-layer, film-laminated sachets, that were inserted into a four-color process plus three-color match book. “With our customers’ direct sales model,” says Rofheart, “the beautifully printed sachets and match books carried both our customers’ graphic presentation and message that would drive future sales of their full size packages.”
Mèreadesso founder and CEO Linda Stephenson reached out to Le Papillon Bioplan and its partner company, Stratford, CT-based Aptar Beauty + Home, to find the perfect packaging to house her All-In-One Mèreadesso Moisturizer in a travel size, 12ml pack for on-the-go lifestyles. She selected the Cosm’in package not just because of its convenient size, but also because it was the right package to protect the product formulation, which contains natural enzymes and antioxidants.
“Cosm’in packaging offers a large communication area with many decoration options on the cap, the foil and closure,” says Aptar’s Heloise Roth, market development manager, NA Beauty Sampling + Promotion. “In the case of Mèreadesso, the brand decorated the foil in the brand’s signature dark grey and white with the product name, description and branding on the front and the ingredient listing and usage on the back. A white closure was placed on the back below the directions for use.”
Product sampling continues to resonate with consumers—and with packaging configurations to suit nearly every need, it’s a great fit for brands eager to maximize their product marketing goals.
There are many different ways to characterize trial-sized packaging but are the terms interchangeable? According to Eve Belinsky, managing director of sales, PakLab, Chino, CA, they are not.
The goal of a sample is and has always been used to promote a full-sized retail product, she says, and it is designed to deliver a small, free preview of what a new fragrance, cream, lotion or hair care product will be like when the consumer purchases it in its retail package. “Long gone are the pretty models hovering over the cosmetic counters with a basket full of samples,” she says. “Today’s evolution into new, eco-friendly films has allowed brands to affix [sample packettes] to a magazine’s page, for example; and the development of foil barriers now permits us to use them for sample OTC products that need freshness or other types of preservation.”
Samples have noticeably decreased in volume content (as small as 1ml). In contrast, the unit dose package has actually grown larger. At PakLab’s element4 skin science studio, Belinsky says the company has assigned a different meaning to the term unit dose, repositioning these gems as a more practical application that delivers more than a preview. “These single dose delivery systems will actually provide a skin or hair care benefit, claim or promise as part of a repetitive regimen,” she says.
PakLab recently developed a single-dose pouch for a dermatology/post-cosmetic surgery client. The pouch has a score on it so that when the consumer folds it over, it ruptures in a specific area and dispenses sterilized water to activate a sterilizing coating on the disposable device that would be used in post-surgery curettage. “Besides the specially designed scored reservoir, we also had to develop a proprietary barrier coating for the inside of the packette in order to preserve the freshness in the purified water,” Belinsky explains.
PakLab is currently investigating the possibility of offering a reclosable unit dose packette, which Belinsky says would be a convenient “grab-and-go” alternative to hotel amenities or more expensive airport convenience boutique products.
Sandpoint, ID—based Unicep, another company specializing in unit dose packaging, recently expanded upon its polypropylene Twist-Tip dispensers with the March debut of a new SwabDose applicator, which features a precision applicator tip that’s packaged into the casing with the product.
The applicator casing is made of polypropylene, which provides a protective, high barrier protection, and there are a variety of applicator tips to choose from that will deliver a controlled amount of product. “With the single-use applicator, there is a reduced risk of cross contamination present with multiple use packaging,” explains Karla Horton, Unicep’s marketing manager.
SwabDose is positioned to be an ideal option for skin care, teeth whitening, cuticle treatments, acne spot treatments and makeup remover products. Typical casing fill levels appropriate for product application range from .5ml to 1ml.
1. Control: Single-dose packaging provides a measured dose per usage, ensuring the correct amount of product is dispensed to get the desired results
2. Convenience: Traveling with beauty and personal care products can be challenging, given TSA flight restrictions. Products housed in smaller-sized packaging take up less luggage room, stay fresh until they are needed, and don’t have to be transported home on the return trip.
3. Contamination: As preservative-free formulas become more prevalent, single-use packaging helps prevent outside impurities and oxidizers from degrading the product.
4. Cost: Marketers have known for years that getting initial trial is essential to converting customers to buy. Not only can single-dose packages contain product, their graphics can often communicate brand and product identity, facilitating the connection between a favorable trial experience and a return to purchase.
5. Creativity: Limited-use packaging formats and deco options are almost limitless to accommodate a broad range of product concepts and marketing goals.