If recent launches are any indication, 2016 will be filled with new colors, nail art tools and an array of packaging.
“The growing popularity and awareness of the long-wear nail polish category, as well as a continued demand for gel polishes are the primary reasons behind the uptick in sales of nail products last year,” explains Agnieszka Saintemarie, project manager, Consumer Practice, Kline & Company.
The analysts at Technavio say these three major drivers will continue to influence the growth of the nail market.
What are brands and marketing asking suppliers for in 2016? “Longer wear and more shine,” says April Vignone, president, product/packaging development, Verla International. Vignone says that many of its customers are looking for new formulation technologies, especially long-wearing, gel-like formulas. These types of formulations typically don’t require using a coated bottle to protect light-sensitive ingredients.
Jim Slowey, vice president of marketing and sales, Baralan USA says that even though the nail market has been contracting slightly in previous years, he’s seeing established brands remain steady in sales—and growth looks promising this year. “Nail Polish has its ups and downs, as with any category,” says Slowey. “But it is our belief that the recent upward spike of the last few years has made polish more of a standard than a fad. Consumers are not shopping randomly—they are staying loyal to their regular, familiar brand names.”
Packaging for nail products has to balance form with function, while finding a way for a brand to differentiate. “Marketers are investing more in deco,” observes Shivie Dhillon, president, Bottle Coatings, Inc. “The idea of jumping ‘off the shelf’ has never been more important, and it’s no different in the nail category,” he says.
Color Trends in Fashion Inspire Nail Products
Fashion designers influence nail polish trends—and market performance—by collaborating with makeup artists to promote new nail designs on the runways each season. These looks influence what consumers will find on store shelves the following year. Suppliers pay attention to runway trends to predict the types of packaging that brands will require.
“The rise of long, talon-like nails came into play recently, with models on runways and celebrities on social media,” says Kline’s Saintemarie. “With the rise of longer fingernails, also came the opportunity to experiment with nail designs, which has been a continuing trend in the nail category in previous years,” she adds. This trend sparked the demand for all types of new nail accessory tools.
Although recent fashion runways have shown tamer looks for nails than in previous years, nail art still has a cult following on social media, and with a dedicated group of consumers. Metallic and ultra-shiny finishes for nails are prevalent, along with 3D effects.
Jan Arnold, co-founder/style director, CND, says there is a return to shorter nails this year. “Nails will be shaped into short, squared canvases that evoke extraordinary color while articulating exquisite abstract pattern and design,” she explains.
One of CND’s new color collections for Spring 2016 is Spring Art Vandal, which includes deep vibrant hues such as a grass green called Art Basil, a bright pink, Tutti Frutti, and a rose gold that will coordinate with the iphone 6s, Irreverant Rose.
OPI also has a bold collection for spring 2016, called New Orleans. It includes 12 new shades in both nail lacquer and gel formulations. “Colors are more vibrant than ever,” says Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, co-founder, OPI. “New Orleans is a place to recharge and revel…we hope we’ve bottled up a little of that special NOLA culture, all while supporting the city’s remarkable renaissance.”
In the mass market, Revlon is debuting its new 2016 collection; its eight new seasonal shades include Purple Chrome, Hot Pink, and Leopard Sparkle. These have been added to Revlon’s existing range of 72 shades, which all have a “5-free” formula.
Pale pastels and nude shades are always spring essentials, and several brands are delivering subtle, skin-flattering hues, mixed with a few unconventional ones like mint green. Zoya’s Whispers Collection for Spring 2016 features a “tranquil palette,” according to the brand. The semi-sheer formula comes in Cala, a soft nude; Ireland, a muted green; and Lake, a muted blue. The nail lacquer is packaged in Zoya’s signature bottle, which tapers slightly near its thick base. Baralan USA has worked with Zoya on many of their polish packages.
The “nude” manicure is also trending, promoting a bare look for nails. Mineral Fusion is launching new colors in February inspired by skin-tone hues. “Mineral Fusion also has a few shades that fit well into the new Pantone colors of the year,” says Julia Buttitta, the brand’s PR rep.
CND is toning down its color palette by summer 2016 with the upcoming launch of its Flirtation Collection. Arnold says it includes “sweet, creamy pastels inspired by modern lace and embroidery.” She continues, “The summer nail is a slim oval, glazed with tender shades of coral and lilac, blushed with the spark of deepening allure.”
Consumers Want Long-Wear Polish
The demand for gel polish is soaring, worldwide. A recent report by MarketsandMarkets predicts that global demand for UV nail gel will reach $59.31 million by 2020, with a CAGR of 6.5% from 2015 to 2020.
However, consumers also want convenience. In response, there are more long-wear formula-tions on the market now. These are gel-like nail products that don’t require curing under a light source, last up to 10 days, and can be removed easily.
CND Vinylux “owned” the category, at first, and now competitors include OPI Infinite Shine, China Glaze Ever Glaze, Jessica Cosmetics Phenom, Orly International Epix, Sally Hansen’s Mira-cle Gel and Revlon’s Color Stay Gel Envy. There is also Ulta’s new brand, Whim, which “wears like a gel, removes like a polish,” as its ads promote. The 3-step system includes a base, color and topcoat.
Bottle Coatings’ Dhillon reports a steady to moderate increase in demand for coated bottles to accommodate sensitive gel nail polish formulations. “The gel market is definitely showing signs of maturing, but not disappearing,” he says. “New formulations are keeping the gel lines alive. Regulations have also started to favor the gel market, allowing for longevity,” he adds.
Dhillon says that using a coating in a vivid color can help “brand” a new nail product, and he’s been fielding requests for pinks and neon yellows. “The fear of a specific color not appealing to consumers’ taste levels doesn’t seem to be as much of a consideration anymore for some marketers,” he says.
The types of decorations that Bottle Coatings is working on include vivid “artistic-style” coatings, according to Dhillon. “I cannot speak about the colors of the actual nail polish, but some of the bottles we are producing in small quantities look spectacular—like artwork,” he says.
Not all formulations are the same, however, or require the same type of coating on a bottle.
“We’re seeing new formulations for longer-lasting nail polish, and each has varying degrees of light sensitivity,” says Dave Desai, director of sales, Piramal Glass. “Formulations range from mildly sensitive, which can be protected through traditional spray coating processes, to ultra-sensitive, which require a coating that will block light completely,” he explains.
Mineral Fusion markets a gel topcoat in a clear bottle, since it provides a gel-like look without being sensitive to light. Bliss One Gel Swoop gel topcoat comes in a bottle with a blue coating—which may have been chosen for functionality, or aesthetics. Bliss’ topcoat is a long-wearing formulation that doesn’t require curing under a light source. The color of the bottle’s coating is a shade that looks like Bliss’ signature blue, which is prominent in its branding and on other product lines.
Butter London Patent-Gel Top & Tails is a base and topcoat set. The brand uses a standard black coating on its topcoat bottle. The cute name attracts attention, and the set continuously gets rave reviews from beauty editors and bloggers, which say it delivers on its promise of long-wear and “patent-leather shine.”
Piramal Glass, which is already a leading manufacturer of nail polish bottles, has recently increased its R&D efforts to develop innovative coatings, in response to demand. “We can now respond to the growing number of requests for coatings that will work with a viriety of different formulations,” Desai says.
As more brands continue to launch nail products with an ingredient list that reads like skin care, the trend may further fuel the need for coated bottles, depending on the formulation.
Verla International’s Vignone says that more brands are developing “healthier” nail products, and are more interested in formulations that provide color as well as additional nail care benefits.
Blis Genius Polish has an ingredient list similar to skin care. The nail polish is formulated with milk thistle extract, soy germ, wheat extract and vitamins A, C and E. Its nail packaging also looks modern, with a clear, double-wall bottle that shows off its highly pigmented, opaque colors. The square bottles are paired with an elegant elongated silver cap.
Vignone expects nails’ “healthy formulation” and long-wearing trends to continue. “We have recently extended our internal facility to include a testing salon for substantiating wear and strengthening claims. This also allows us to develop more nail products that promote nail integrity and nail health,” she says. “We are currently developing breathable nail polish formulas that increase flexibility to help prevent chipping,” Vig-none adds.
Decorating to Differentiate and Promote Partnerships
To keep consumers interested, brands are launching nail sets and kits throughout the year, and promoting new partnerships throughout 2016.
Duri has packaged a set of four of its nail products in a red carton that has a carry handle, ideal for gifting on Valentine’s Day. The cartons are decorated with either gold or silver embossing, to coordinate with the nail colors inside.
Coty’s OPI is partnering with Hello Kitty. The new range includes bottles with caps decorated with the Hello Kitty image. “We wanted to infuse this collection with all the charm and playfulness of its namesake,” says OPI’s Weiss-Fischmann. “Together with their names, these lacquers capture Hello Kitty’s world to perfection, and of course, many of the colors also echo runway trends we’ve seen for 2016. Think delicious pinks, punchy primaries, pearly white and licorice black.”
Formula X recently launched its first #ColorCurators collection, which is a set of three new limited edition colors that will be curated by beauty, fashion and wellness influencers each month. Each collection features the curator’s signature on its square, white cap.
January’s #ColorCurators collection is the Song of Style Edition by fashion “It” girl, Aimee Song. It includes three pale pastel opaque colors—mint, nude and pink. February’s curator is beauty vlogger Patrick Starr, and in March, a collection by lifestyle blogger Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere will launch.
Butter London has partnered with Allure magazine on a collection that features a set of trendsetting colors that display the magazine’s red logo on its black, square caps.
Mixing Functionality with Style
The oversized square caps that Butter London and Formula X use are stylish, but the squared edges make it more difficult to hold securely and apply the polish with a steady hand. For this reason, these caps twist off to reveal a small round undercap. The round cap is attached to the brush applicator, seals the bottle, and makes it easy to apply nail color with precision.
“There continues to be a demand for the removable over cap,” says Baralan’s Slowey. “The concept started very slowly years ago, but now the design technology has made building molds and producing these components much less expensive and more attainable to all brands,” he says.
Mineral Fusion has a new color collection launching in February, and its bottles feature caps decorated with a faux wood finish. The bottles are silk screened with the brand’s logo, and a unique pattern.
“We chose a sleek, modern bottle shape and eye-catching cap. We worked hard to make sure the packaging was both unique and functional,” says Timothy Schaeffer, senior vice president of marketing at Mineral Fusion.
Like the square caps mentioned above, Mineral Fusion’s over cap is designed to remove, and reveals an easy-grip cap underneath. “When we tested this, we were really excited about both its look and functionality,” adds Schaeffer.
More Ways to Customize Caps
French company Boho Cosmetics recently worked with Pujolasos to launch a new cosmetic natural products line, which included nail polish. The new range, which was created and patented by Boho, includes caps for nail polish bottles made using ash-tree wood, which conveys the brand’s commitment to using organic materials.
The caps are decorated by Pujolasos, which used its laser engraving technology. Pujolasos developed the packaging in its new plant at Sant Pere de Torelló in Barcelona. The firm is PEFC and FSC certified, which guarantees a responsible forest management.
Milani Color Statement Nail Lacquer features the nail polish color on the top part of each bottle’s round cap. The brand uses HCP’s Radii Round nail polish package, which features this customizable cap. “The cleverly designed cap can accommodate gel and injection-molded top plates for a custom look,” explains Sue Pickford, creative marketing manager, HCP.
HCP offers its Radii Round nail polish package as a stock option. Both the bottle and the cap can be decorated in a variety of ways, using hot stamping, screen printing, UV spraying and vacuum metallizing.
Taking a standard package and customizing it is one of Corpack’s specialties, according to the supplier. Corpack’s Allegra line conveys “a modern image with simultaneous curves on the lid and the base, which gives it a nice feel when held in the hand,” according to Corpack’s Coletta Ehrmann.
Corpack has recently expanded the available componentry options for Allegra, which includes new bottle sizes. “The bottle shape, when combined with various decoration possibilities, offers a brand a high-quality standard,” says Ehrmann. “We consider our customers’ vision, and can customize our standards so that there are minimal tooling costs,” she adds.
Differentiating with a New Bottle Shape
When a brand is launching a new nail line, choosing a bottle shape, and all the decisions that go along with it can be overwhelming. Suppliers are offering various solutions to make things flow more easily.
Baralan USA’s Slowey says he often hears requests from nail brands for new bottle shapes. “We continue to be a leader in bottle design and try to introduce at least one or two new shapes each year,” he says. Many of Baralan’s new bottle designs are added to its stock collection, which means they are available as standards, without the burdens of tooling costs and long lead times.
Choosing a bottle shape for a new nail line also involves considering the possibility of extending the brand into other product categories in the future, and Baralan solves this issue, as well. “Recently, we have been building our stock line for nail polish bottles to include the same shapes in sizes for skin care and fragrance. This makes it easier for a new nail brand to choose a shape, knowing that a complete family of bottles exists,” explains Slowey.
Bottle Coatings’ Dhillon agrees—new bottle shapes are in demand. “We are definitely seeing more brands choose bottles in creative shapes. These are not more challenging to coat, but slightly challenging to print on. We have alternative deco approaches that overcome these irregular-shaped bottles,” he explains.
Rod Vilencia, vice president of sales and marketing, Pacific Packaging Components Inc., comments on differentiating with design, and says it’s so important because consumers are overwhelmed with so many options. “The nail care industry is highly competitive. The marketplace is already filled with packaging that lacks innovation. No matter how creative the inner color of the lacquer may be, a brand can easily get lost in a sea of look-a-like bottles,” Vilencia explains.
He says he often advises a new brand to consider a custom mold. “Investing in a custom mold, and the lead times needed to create them, can help improve a nail brand’s visual appeal, create interest, and sell-through—resulting in long-term success,” according to Vilencia. “A unique, custom shape for a nail polish bottle and cap can be created easily, and set your brand apart. Price points for custom packaging, in many instances, is the same as standard packaging, not counting the cost of the mold,” he adds.
Verla International is also continuously working on unique bottle designs for its nail customers. “Specifically, we have recently been working on innovative designs such as multifaceted glass. We are also decorating nail polish packaging with unique combinations of matte and metallic finishes, semi-precious stones, and eco-friendly inks. Our sustainable packaging options include plastics that are made with high percentages of PCR, for caps,” says Verla International’s Vignone.
Verla Interational has also incorporated technologies such as 3D printing, which allows for samples to be produced within 24 hours. “These tools provide our customers with the opportunity to expedite the design processes, reduce costs associated with multiple molds, and provide internal teams with early ac-cess to packaging design concepts,” Vignone adds.
The Continuing Popularity of Miniature Sizes
Miniature bottle sizes for a set of nail products allow a brand to offer more value to consumers. It can help promote new nail products or colors—plus, it’s travel-friendly.
“Mini bottles for nail polish packaging is a trend that began last year,” says Kline & Company’s Saintemarie. “Small bottles of nail polish are perfect for trying different colors. They’re convenient to travel with, which makes them appealing to consumers. We also expect they will remain popular for holiday gift sets,” she adds.
Zoya has a new Naked Manicure Mini Pro Kit, which includes the brands’ collection of nine Naked Manicure Products, all in mini bottles that are .25-oz sizes. In addition to the typical base and top coats, the collection includes a range of perfector products, which are formulated with nourishing ingredients to smooth, improve, and color-correct the nails. In addition to making bare nails look manicured, these products make semi-sheer formulas and nude colors, which are popular for Spring 2016, look their best.
Mineral Fusion also sells kits with mini bottles. “It’s a fun way to try new shades without committing to a large bottle. The kits also make great gifts,” says Schaeffer.
The Importance of the Brush
When applying nail polish with ease and precision, a good brush applicator is critical. Mineral Fusion’s team developed a custom brush, which is extra thick. “The brush allows for easy application with less strokes and more even coverage,” says Schaeffer.
Geka offers several innovative nail polish brush options that a brand can test with its formulation.
Geka’s Double Touch brush allows a user to apply nail polish with equal accuracy, using either hand. The applicator is made of of two V-shaped brushes, arranged side by side, so the applicator can hold more polish. “The brush shape makes it easier to use with the non-dominant hand, with more precision,” says Julia Kiener, deputy marketing director, Geka.
Geka is also offering brands new options in fiber cuts, fiber types, and brush lengths for various application and performance characteristics. Geka’s soft-cut fiber tips, for example, hold polish well for greater precision. The supplier’s flat oval brushes were developed to deliver a fast, streak-free application.
“Our round brushes are engineered to hold more bulk than conventional applicators, and they allow the user to apply polish evenly in precisely regulated quantities,” Kiener explains. “They are ideal for low-viscosity nail varnish, and formulations with glitter particles,” she adds.
Ditching the Bottle for Pens—and a Spray Can?
Some nail brands are offering alternative ways to apply polish, rather than a traditional bottle. There are nail pens that can apply color, remove mistakes, or dispense treatment products to specific areas of the nail, such as the cuticles.
Brands are also launching more tools that are designed to make it easier for the consumer to create nail art designs at home. “We’re seeing an increase in companies with templates or stamps to create designs, such as MoYou London Company,” says Kline & Company’s Saintemarie.
One of Topline’s many solutions designed to make nail color application easier is its Nail Art Pens. “Our French Manicure Pen features an angled tip applicator that allows you to draw thick or thin lines with ease. It is much more convenient than fiddling with a standard nail polish brush,” explains Sandra Hutson, marketing/product development director, Topline. “Our Nail Art Pen with its ultra-fine tip creates endless designs—both straight and curved lines—with amazing flexibility and precision,” she adds.
There is also a more unexpected option launching this year—spray-on nail polish.
Spray Can Nail Polish by Nails Inc. is a 50ml can with a spray dispensing system. It launched late last year in the U.K., and has since sold out (it’s carried at Boots in the UK). U.S. consumers are being asked to join the wait list on the brand’s website, but it is expected to launch here by March 2016.
Since the nail polish will get all over your fingers, plus whatever your hand is placed on, it is formulated to wash off the skin. It is recommended that you use it along with a base coat and topcoat.
While the can may offer the convenience of “the world’s fastest manicure,” it takes a more precise dispensing method to create the many types of intricate designs that have been popular for nail art. “There are many textured effects and graphic multi-colored designs that are still popular. These trends are from the fashion runways, and brands strive to provide the consumer with easy ways to replicate these looks at home. We are continuously working toward offering solutions,” explains Topline’s Hutson.
Stay Tuned for the Next ‘Big’ Nail Brand?
Suppliers don’t anticipate the demand for nail products slowing. Keystone Industries, a division of Polychromatic, has recently acquired the leading nail polish filling company, Centre 7, which is based in France near Paris’ Cosmetic Valley. Keystone will expand the facility for the full-scale production of nail polish, and the anticipated capacity for Centre 7 is filling 30 million bottles annually.
Bottle Coatings’ Dhillon is seeing an increase in competition among suppliers, which can pose a few challenges. “We are seeing our overseas competition grow, which brings price points down. We have even lost customers for a short time period to overseas suppliers, but once they have missed deadlines and suffered quality issues, they have returned,” he explains.
Baralan USA’s Slowey says new brands are driving innovation—and believes suppliers should pay attention. “We are seeing a large number of independent companies that are springing up, and filling a need for niche colors, textures and finishes, especially in the nail category. These companies work from their homes and generate buzz on social media,” he says.
Slowey adds, “Meeting with new indie brands has become a constant, rather than a novelty. We try to treat them all as if they are the next, biggest brand.”