For existing and emerging brands alike, speedy transitions from product ideation to retail roll-out are vital in gaining a strong foothold in the competitive beauty segment. Partnering with a provider that’s well-versed in smoothing out the details of each step in the creation of a product—from formula fine-tuning to packaging conceptualization and fulfillment—can help streamline a brand’s road to retail.
Clémentine Barbet, communications manager, Albéa, Gennevilliers, France, says the heightened focus on speed to market is correlated to the insurgence of Indie brands, and the ripple effect is also impacting legacy brands, who are increasingly seeking ready-to-go packaging and turnkey solutions, not just to improve their speed-to-market, but also to add value to their ranges with special collections and limited editions.
Indie brands are more flexible, with a less top-down and more trans-functional organization. They’re also less industrially equipped and gravitate toward turnkey solutions and standard packaging that’s quickly customizable for fast-to-market. “They are looking for a ready-to-go pack, pre-tested and validated formula/pack, a robust supply chain and management project,” she says. “That’s why they want ready-to-go packaging and services that can save time and speed-to-market their launches.”
To help its customers speed up their launches and product replenishments, Albéa’s at-the-ready packaging components and sets, and turnkey services include a handful of packaging ranges, procedures and equipment aimed to reduce a brand’s time to market. For example, for mascara and lip gloss caps, the company offers My Flash, a modular mold technology that quickly and easily allows large batch personalization and packaging adaptions at a competitive cost. Another Albéa service Mix&Match, is a user-friendly, web-based packaging configurator that facilitates virtual creations and 3D views of custom-made packaging solutions from Albéa’s standard packaging offerings.
Flexible, All-Purpose Packaging
Chris James, vice president of sales at East Hill Industries, Carrollton, TX, says one of the best ways to satisfy a packaging project that requires a speedy turnaround is through the use of modular in-stock packaging. East Hill, now the exclusive distributor for the Quadpack Q-Line range of products, offers a range of tubes, jars, bottles and pumps in different shapes, sizes and formats, with a variety of complementary options for caps, collars and pumps, to give brands a good choice for mixing and matching.
East Hill ascribes to “intelligent stocking” to fulfill its time-to-market promise to its clients. “We are always adding new stock based on past demand and future projections and we are looking into new ways of simplifying and speeding up delivery,” James says. “It’s a fine balancing act by which we ensure that what our clients need, we have in stock and ready to deliver. Currently, we stock a wide range of tubes, jars, bottles and pumps.”
In addition to acrylic and double-wall jars, the Q-Line offers a versatile selection of popular packaging types for skincare, makeup and fragrance, some of which are wooden components manufactured at Quadpack’s Technotraf factory in Europe. “We will be keeping the most popular wooden cap types in stock, so small- and medium-sized companies can take advantage of a differentiated option you might otherwise think is only for the most high-end global brands,” he says. “All wood comes from sustainable sources as well, so it’s perfect for organic and natural products.”
To complement its stock offerings, East Hill also advocates local sourcing for enhanced speed to market. “For example, we have transitioned a lot of our tube manufacturing from Asia to Mexico, cutting turnaround times in half, from 10-12 weeks to just 4-6 weeks, when you include freight times,” James says. “Multi-layer tubes in particular offer a great, fast packaging option for many different kinds of beauty products. They offer a lot of flexibility in terms of formulation, when you consider properties like viscosity or active ingredients.”
The company couples its in-stock offerings with a decoration and labelling operation that James says is primed to put together great-looking, customized packages very quickly. “Decoration lead times for silk-screening are 2-3 weeks on average, for example,” he says. “We also offer digitally-printed labels which offer particularly rapid turnaround times. This is the best option for smaller runs in full color, as setup costs are minimal and there are no minimum print runs.”
For suppliers, running a tight ship is key to helping brands optimize their turnaround speed. “The beauty of stock options is that so long as the quality is maintained, the options are endless for creating a memorable product,” says Anna Lombardi, director of marketing, Lombardi Design and Manufacturing, Freeport, NY, a full-service provider of a variety of stock packaging and decorating service options.
When it comes to its turnkey partnerships, Lombardi insists their suppliers operate to its own high standard, whether it pertains to creating formulas or in-stock packaging options. “We take pride in working closely with each client [and] are in contact daily with both our customers and partners,” says Lombardi, noting that the company’s approach is especially friendly for emerging brands. “At the end of the day we need to ensure each client that they are not only going to get the guidance they need from our dedicated staff, but they are also getting top quality across the board, from conceptualization to decoration.”
For 50 years, Lady Burd Cosmetics, Farmingdale, NY, has offered turnkey and speed-to-market services that span not only in-stock packaging, labeling, and if time permits, custom screen printing and hot stamping, but also product formulating as well. The company has an in-house chemist as well as a regulatory department on the premises to help smooth out any last-minute formulation issues.
According to the company’s Barbara Silverman, business development and sales and marketing, Lady Burd’s lipstick components and compacts for both powder and eye shadows offer the most flexibility for customers in search of a quick, quality solution. “Since they are stock items, there are no minimums which makes this cost-effective to the customer,” Silverman says.
Lady Burd’s Shiny Silver line features AS+ABS caps, inserts and bases. The Silver compact holds a 59mm pan that can be filled with products such as setting powders, bronzers and highlighters. The Silver Color View Lip Component holds 4g of product and its ABS/POM/AS construction gives consumers a sneak peek of the color shade through the closed tube.
Speed in Action
East Hill Industries recently put its quick-to-market expertise into action for Botanic Tree, a company dedicated to creating and marketing results-oriented organic products.
East Hill’s James says the brand’s line was launched in East Hill’s in-stock tube, a range that includes 1-, 4- and 6-oz. airless pump tubes. “Botanic Tree wants to make sure that its products do not cause any damage to nature. The tubes are 100% recyclable PE material, with PP flip-top caps,” he explains.
The tubes were decorated using a three-color silk-screen process that delivered a glossy, luxe finish. “The result gave our client the ability to launch a luxury product range at as few as one thousand units per print SKU per order,” James says. “This allowed them to move forward with multiple products while minimizing the cash outlay. In addition, using our in-stock tube with airless pump provided the opportunity to keep the bulk of the products in tubes, thus creating a universal look.”
MAC Cosmetics is renowned for pushing the trend envelope with core and limited-edition collections that have made the color cosmetics firm a beauty leader. In 2017, Estée Lauder recognized Los Angeles, CA-based HCT Group with its Supplier Excellence Award in the category of “Agility” for HCT’s exemplary work on the company’s MAC Personality Palettes, a limited range of palettes consisting of eight eyeshadows and one highlighter that correspond to user profiles such as Fashion Fanatic, Mischief Minx, Power Hungry and Prissy Princess.
“Estée Lauder is always looking to improve our speed to market in order to meet the needs of our customers and HCT helped us do just that,” says Stacey Dano, vice president of global brands procurement at Estée Lauder. “The collaboration took the MAC Personality Palettes from concept to finished goods, launching globally after only six months.”
Denis Maurin, HCT Group’s executive vice president of technical sales, says the company has put a lot of effort into its turnkey services. “We are constantly developing custom formulations that pair perfectly with our new stock innovations, making it easy for our clients to launch an item that’s ready to go,” he says. “We expedite the launch process by providing high-performance formulations that have been fully tested in the component so that the client can focus their efforts toward decoration and branding.”
HCT Group’s large stock packaging library is also split into convenient families/ranges that give clients the ability to create an entire line with easy cohesiveness. “We have begun tooling compacts with a recess on top of the lid so it’s easy to include decorated plates to give our clients more flexibility with decoration and customization,” Maurin says. “The plates can be metal with embossed/debossed pattern and logo, plastic with inkjet printing, fabric and many other options. This is great for quick to market launches because it’s a fast way to add as much or as little decoration to the component as the customer would like.”
Urban Decay is another stand-out, trend-setting beauty brand with a cult following. When the company sought to roll out a new four-SKU Rehab Makeup Prep line, it turned to Compax, Salt Lake City, UT, with a tight deadline. The range, which includes Pretty Gritty Skin Polish, Pore Refining Peel, Hot Springs Hydrating Gel and Oxygenated Bubble Mask, achieved a unified look with specially chosen packaging and embellishments.
“Since we only had fewer than 16 weeks to produce and deliver all components, there was no time for the usual customization that we usually do on all Urban Decay packages,” comments Compax’s Jing Santos, regional sales manager. “There was, at least, a debossed ‘UD’ logo on the caps, but the timeline didn’t allow us to do custom color matching let alone a custom mold—so all components were produced in opaque white and all closures were molded in translucent white and we added a clear matte spray finish to add contrast and texture.
“For decoration, Heat Transfer labels were used across the line to capture the photo image artwork,” he continues. “By using a combination of stock and deco and limiting the number of variables that are generally present when creating a collection, our agile production process successfully kept pace with UD’s ambitious sprint to market.”
However, Pretty Gritty Skin Polish, which is a powder, didn’t fit the stock option mold so Compax repurposed a stock cylinder round PET bottle outfitted with an orifice reducer and screw-on cap—the set-up is typically used for liquids, but Santos says it worked well to dispense the powder without the mess. Rounding out the line, Pore Refining Peel is packaged in a stock 22mm round tube, Hydrating Gel utilizes a stock PET Jar, and the Bubble Mask is housed in a stock airless jar.
Santos says tubes and paper packaging generally offer the most flexibility and bang for the buck for quick-to-market cosmetic product packaging applications. “We’ve found that tubes have the most flexibility, with the simplicity of either increasing or decreasing the sleeve length for the desired fill capacity without any tooling,” he says. “Paper compacts and palettes offer the flexibility of customizing without the time and cost for a custom mold.”
Modifying existing packaging is another great way to meet product needs quickly without the need and cost of a completely customized design. MELT enlisted the expertise of Cosmopak USA, Port Washington, NY, when it sought a compact that mirrored a smaller, existing product. “The challenge was how do we show them what the item will look like, so they are satisfied enough to place a purchase order for tooling,” recalls Walter Dwyer, Cosmopak’s president. “We were able to show the client an SLS sample that would represent the actual item that we would create with tooling and asked them to compromise on some of the small design cues, such as the slight dome on the cover and exposure of the magnet closure, which we resolved by painting the area black to conceal the magnets.”
Cosmopak also helped Indie brand Julep devise a package for its Love Your Bare Face, a “detoxifying cleansing stick” comprised of a blend of natural oils and fruit enzymes that exfoliate skin for a “deep-down” clean. The packaging for the product is a plastic wind-up stick with a 50g capacity. The cap, base and inner filling cap are SAN, with PP inner mechanisms. Dwyer says Cosmopak was given a picture and physical sample of the desired finish. “We were able to achieve the look by using a pearlescent spray finish,” he says. “The artwork colors were achieved by using specific Pantone numbers [and] the approximate turnaround time was 8-10 weeks.”