Beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder
Digitally inline printed or individualized packaging is increasingly indispensable if beauty brands wish to anticipate trends.
Our definitions of beauty and good looks are continuously evolving and remain dependent on changing cultural input and societal ideas. Current ideas of beauty have overcome some stereotypes, but by no means all. Imperfections and even conscious provocation are accepted to an extent that would not have been conceivable a few decades ago. Suppliers of beauty products must keep pace with these changes by offering innovative products and engaging to a greater degree with the individual wishes, ideals, and concepts of very different target groups.
Those who succeed will participate in an upwardly trending market. Experts expect the beauty market to grow by seven percent (value) and three percent (volume) each year, reaching a turnover of 314 billion euros and 39 billion units sold by 2025. Skin care and sun protection will remain the largest segment, decisive for the segment’s overall growth.
Is the trend really your friend?
But it is important to remain watchful and monitor the many trends very carefully. This is even more the case since the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to or greatly restricted (at least temporarily) many cherished habits that had been taken for granted. This could quickly give rise to new and different habits. Lockdowns, mask-wearing, home office, and the absence of many professional and private events at which make-up normally plays an important role certainly contributed to the beauty market shrinking at least since 2020. In the cosmetic and make-up, perfume, and skin care and sun protection segments, beauty products have fallen in value by nine percent since 2019 (when they were still at 249 billion euros), and the number of units sold has fallen by four percent (they were still at 34 billion units in 2019). There was a significant recovery in 2021, showing that the middle-term market trend already mentioned remains stable. But there are currents and tendencies for which the pandemic is only partially responsible.
One is the increasing importance of e-commerce and the shifting of turnover to online channels. This development was, of course, helped along by the lockdowns, but the social media boom with its ubiquitous influencers provided at least as much of a boost. Another trend the pandemic strengthened is a shift in emphasis from looks to health. One effect is increased demand for products that promise dermatological utility or added value – and keep that promise. For instance, a number of leading beauty and health care brands now offer the option of an online digital skin analysis, which may well further enhance to power of e-commerce.
The arrival of Generation Z
A third important development is the arrival of Generation Z on the market – young people currently between 18 and 24. They consider themselves to be beauty enthusiasts and exhibit great interest in brands that embody such values as diversity, sustainability, and inclusion. They view mass-market products with increasing skepticism and like products to be addressed to them individually. This challenges beauty brands to develop new, customized solutions that cover a range of issues, from personalized formulations to individualized packaging.
“E-commerce, sustainability, and personalization – none of these developments are just fads. They are trends that will remain with us,” says Eric Penne, Sales Director and beauty specialist at Atlantic Zeiser. “That is why, especially for beauty product packaging, the concept of inline late-stage customization is becoming increasingly attractive.” This process uses Atlantic Zeiser’s digital printing technology to move individualization to a late stage of production. It allows brand owners to reduce the number of pre-printed packaging SKUs and still speak to very different or very small target groups – in extreme cases single persons – individually and, equally important, economically. One important result of a single line acquiring an infinite variety of solutions is that the supply chain is optimized, dramatically reducing storage costs for pre-printed material. “Late-stage customization is thus an instrument of increased sustainability,” says Penne. “There is less pre-printed material to be transported, and the number of storage movements within a company is reduced. And ultimately there is less packaging that is not used and must be disposed of. This all helps conserve resources and protect the environment – something that pleases lots of people, not just Generation Z.”
Solutions for a consistent brand image
For this approach to be eye-catching, there must be not only digital printing technology, but also special drop-on-demand UV inks. “That is why we have been working for years with Tritron, our affiliate and co-member of the Coesia Group,” says Penne. “The development and production of these inks, essentially in-house, allows us to offer the best inks and solutions for pre-treatment.” It ensures especially vivid colors, outstanding adhesion, and consistently high printing quality for a consistent brand image. Such packaging does well in comparisons with packaging that is pre-printed with an offset process. “Our ideal of beauty and good looks may shift,” says Penne, “but positively influencing the brand experience and decisions to buy when the product is being unwrapped requires packaging that meets the highest of optical standards.”