Full-service and turnkey providers offer a complete skillset that combines contract manufacturing and packaging with the added capacity to seamlessly carry the production of a product from its early stages of formula development, filling and design through to its packaging and pack-out phase, depending on the needs of brand partners.
For beauty and personal care brands considering partnering with a full-service provider to help bring their product to life, there are a litany of considerations to be made during the decision-making process to help determine which provider is the right fit. Chief among them are assessing a provider’s reputation, longevity and experience.
“As of late, too many suppliers are claiming to be full-service providers, when in fact they’re not,” says Robert Congionti, vice president of operations, Tokiwa Cosmetics America, Monroe Township, NJ, who advises brands to be direct about asking which primary, direct and functionary services are actually provided (or in some cases, outsourced). “Are they fillers? Are they package/component suppliers? Are they formulators? Or are they more of a facilitator? It’s [critical] to know the provider’s contribution and involvement in the process [because] the more the provider is the key element in the process the better the ultimate outcome. He says, “Tokiwa is well positioned to provide its customers with ultimate flexibility to meet their needs, from contract filling and manufacturing to full turnkey services.”
Tokiwa currently supplies over 90% of its products on a completely turnkey basis and currently holds more than 440 patents worldwide for its formulations and components. The company’s Global Technology and Research Center in Tokyo is staffed with over 100 trained personnel including chemists, formulators, engineers, package designers and trend specialists that enable the company to maintain start-to-finish control during the creation, formulation and manufacture of products. “Our components and molds are our own design and produced under the strictest quality standards and tolerances and tested and retested under the most severe conditions to assure perfect functionality,” comments Congionti. “Our formulas are developed by us in our own laboratories and tested and retested to assure highest quality, safety, performance, efficacy, regulatory compliance and perfectly compatible with our components.”
Tokiwa’s componentry is designed to provide as much flexibility and customization as possible, whether through decoration methods or the construction of the item, to enhance a brand’s ability to make an item uniquely their own. For instance, Tokiwa’s most popular item worldwide is its 3-in-1 Mechanical Pencil. Customizable due to its interchangeable parts, the product can contain a liquid or gel liner on one end, a tip-on powder application in the middle, and a brush on the other end.
A “major cosmetic player” (purposely unnamed) fell for Tokiwa’s Lip Gelato, a soft, creamy, luxurious lipstick formula. But rather than use the product’s ultra-sleek and contemporary lipstick housing, they worked with Tokiwa to create a customized packaging design. “They designed very elegant and unique over caps to replace our current top and bottom caps,” Congionti says. “The new look was amazing. The item, recently introduced, is a runaway success.”
According to Natalia Lech, marketing manager at Hong Kong-based Asquan Ltd., the expertise of a turnkey service provider is particularly important for new and developing brands that may not yet have the manpower to organize and track design and production from start to finish. “Smaller brands do well with the help of a turnkey service provider, as their focus should be on promoting the brand with consumers and opening new accounts with retailers,” she says, likening turnkey partnerships to utilizing a concierge service. “We are here to make this process effortless, flag down potential challenges, and most importantly, offer deliverable solutions.”
Asquan specializes in color cosmetics and skincare products and invests in trend research to help its clients anticipate industry movement and gain a competitive edge. Lech says the company teams with highly regarded and reliable entities in Europe, Asia and the U.S. to deliver cutting-edge formulations, while the company’s packaging expertise combines design and product performance to help brands pair the right packaging solutions with their formulations.
Asquan recently worked with Hax Beauty, a “fast to market” brand from the UK that creates limited edition collections inspired by stories, tips and beauty hacks featured on social media platforms. “The Hax team approached Asquan with the brief to create full-service solutions from primary pack and formulas right through to stylish lightweight and recyclable secondary shipping packages,” Lech explains. “Despite extreme and challenging time constraints, the first three stories were produced and shipped within four months with a further four stories in parallel development for roll out 12 weeks later.”
Asquan supplied all of Hax Beauty’s formulas, filling services, primary components and accessories for the brand’s makeup products, as well as all secondary card packaging and shippers. Asquan also applied package decoration, which consisted of a simple, one-pass silkscreen. “We also coordinated the assembly and managed all logistics to ensure Hax hit their very exacting launch schedule,” Lech says.
Finding the Right Fit
Anton Meindl, senior director of sales and product development, Precious Cosmetics, Lodi, NJ, advises brands to be direct when asking turnkey suppliers about the size of companies they typically do business with. “They should make sure they they’re ‘all inclusive,’ meaning they have experience working with large, small, and medium size brands,” he says. “Some turnkey providers only want to work with the big guys in the industry. You want a provider that has experience working with startups, medium-sized companies and larger brands.”
With over 200 stock formulations in color cosmetics, skincare and hair care, Precious Cosmetics works with East and West coast brands featured in Sephora and Ulta, offering low minimum order quantities (MOQs) of 5,000 pieces per formula/shade. For some startups, high MOQs can be a real barrier to entry in the marketplace, as can high lead times. “Most larger contract manufacturers have between 12-20-week lead times,” Meindl says. “Our lead time ranges from 8-10 weeks, and usually we are able to turn things around for customers within six weeks [of the] purchase order.”
For more than 55 years, Lady Burd Cosmetics, Farmingdale, NY, has helped beauty companies create unique, value-added color cosmetics, bath, body and skincare products with precision ingredients like alpha-hydroxy acids, anti-oxidants, vitamins and plant extracts. This fall, Lady Burd launched a 13-shade line of Full Coverage Matte Foundations containing argan oil and Vitamin E to help nourish the skin, while delivering a “flawless and long-lasting look.”
The company additionally offers brands a suite of services including a high-tech laboratory and fully automated manufacturing, warehousing and shipping facilities, and Barbara Silverman, business development, says the average turnaround time for turnkey color cosmetics and skincare products is typically 8-10 weeks.
Vincent Groccia, president and CEO, ColorVera Biotech Group Inc., New York, encourages brands to do their homework to avoid any potential surprises during the turnkey process. “First, learn about the turnkey service provider’s capabilities and areas of expertise; ask what they do best [and] learn what they don’t provide,” he says. “The truly essential element for success is to always provide a thorough and detailed product brief. Many eyes will be on this; the quality of the information will ensure everyone is on the same page and will go a long way to streamlining the development process.” Groccia acknowledges that ColorVera is a relatively new business in the turnkey beauty sector but says that the company was built from the ground up with a singular purpose: excellence in execution for speed to market. “Our client partners include emerging and mid-size brands and brands with Indie spirit,” he says, adding that the company maintains an R&D operation in Milan, and currently manufactures in China; however, that will expand to the U.S. and Italy in 2019.
To meet the multi-faceted needs of its turnkey clients, PakLab, Chino, CA, created Element4, a one-stop resource merging the PakLab sales team with its R&D Innovation Lab, packaging engineers and supply chain management group plus a project manager who oversees the team and its menu of value-added services.
“Element4 has successfully managed full services, including brand architecture, for many brands including M&As, launching over fifty SKUs, and many OTC products from concept to store shelves in very large unit quantities on their first run in a little less than 12 months, a timeline rarely achieved by industry standards,” comments Alex Cripchuck, PakLab’s senior vice president of commercialization.
Beauty brand Kamou paired with PakLab to develop an eight SKU product line that went from concept to finished packages in just nine months. PakLab handled the formula development and all testing (including clinical and efficacy), package design, development and engineering, manufacture, filling and marketing story support. PakLab even designed the branded kiosk that showcases the products at point of sale in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Forging Precision Partnerships
Claiming a piece of the Korean beauty boom is easier when brands partner with turnkey providers that have a home base in the trend’s hotbed locale. Korea-based J.Cop (Jeong-Hun Co., Ltd.) enables the development and early adaption of new K-beauty formulations through industrial-educational cooperation with its partner-filling companies, and is capable of providing simultaneous packaging development to best match brands’ products through J.Cop’s own packaging manufacturing facilities. The company’s Ron Lee, global sales manager, says J.Cop’s services include a selection of free molds and in-house custom mold development.
Dubai-based cosmetics brand, In My Make Up Bag, recently turned to J.Cop to develop a lip color range and “make up fixer” for its makeup line. “We are currently in development for vegan and edible formulations for the lip products including edible scents (100% made in Korea),” Lee says, adding that J.Cop is also collaborating with the brand in the development of high-end, customized decoration techniques to accent its packaging.
At present, the brand is looking into adapting one of four J.Cop techniques for its product range: Particle Coating using an advanced semi-automated coating technique; Penta-Glitter Coating, a five-colorway glitter coating that delivers a luxuriously glossy effect with depth; Bi-Gradated Coating, a two-color matching gradation using three top coating techniques; and Marble Injection, a unique pigment-blended plastic injection that utilizes a 100% custom-blended masterbatch, in contrast to ready-made pigments currently on the marketplace.
Turnkey providers can often acquaint brands with solutions they might not have realized were possible. AJG Packaging LLC, Flemington, NJ, has an exclusive alliance with Bisio Progetti of Italy to utilize the company’s monodose strip pack tube concept—a convenient format perfect for a multi-step regimen range or multi-dose/multi-use products, such as cosmetics, skincare and self-tanning formulas. Volumes range from .3- to 10ml and, unlike some unit dose formats, the units can be resealed. AJG imports the strips, builds them to their customers’ specifications, fills them, decorates them and ships them out to their customers.
AJG implemented a solution using the monodose strips to repackage Instantly Ageless, a skincare product sold by Jeunesse Global, because the product contains clay and was originally packaged in an airless system that was prone to clogging. Matthew Grimaldi, AJG’s CEO, say his company transitioned the brand into white strip tubes bearing simple blue path printed deco because they don’t clog and are resealable. AJG also packed the strips–five each–into decorative cartons used to house the strip packs at retail.
When it comes to helping brands create a statement, Fusion Packaging believes in taking essential beauty basics to another level from start to finish, complete with airtight packaging specially developed to protect and display formulas in a visually engaging way. “For example, we offer pressed powders [that] incorporate skin care actives like blue light technology that protect and reverse damages [as well as] different masks which also provide a sensorial experience,” says Debra Lowe, executive director of product development. “Recently we expanded into color cosmetics incorporating these concepts as well as skincare benefits. We have concealers that incorporate benefits you would usually see in eye creams and blushes infused with plumping collagen.”
In response to the global excitement for facial mask treatment products, French company Strand Cosmetics Europe, Swiss company MS Swiss Cosmetics, and the French subsidiary of Japan’s Taiki Group have pooled their scientific, technical and industrial expertise to jointly develop upwards of 10-12 million facial masks per year to be exclusively manufactured in France and/or Switzerland.
Strand Cosmetics Europe’s and MS Swiss Cosmetics’ skincare laboratories will manage mask formulations based on the options developed by Taiki Cosmetics Europe, which will pair formulas with impregnable, non-woven mask fabrics based on softness, weight, restitution and stretching capacity, and biodegradability. Designs will also vary, with some masks featuring patented designs for intuitive unfolding, reinforced firming effect, and more.
Additionally, within the framework of a turnkey approach, the partnership enables beauty brands to take advantage of additional co-packing and international logistics services operated by Marvinpac, whose design office also develops secondary custom packaging solutions (rigid boxes and containers) with a view to point-of- sale product promotion.