Analysis by Susan Ellison, Joint MD at OPM Label Group
For personal care brand owners today, the retail landscape is utterly transformed from as little as five years ago. How shoppers are making purchase decisions – and where – is evolving at a rapid pace, so where does that leave a cosmetics or personal care brand looking to stay front, centre and competitive on a crowded shelf?
Amidst seismic shifts in how consumers are making purchase decisions and a global pandemic that has played no small part in changing the face of commerce, brands are under unprecedented pressure to deliver.
It’s been a tough period of change for many, but what matters most now is how we’re reaccelerating and meeting customers where they are now, not where they were pre-pandemic. This means that an omnichannel approach to retail is firmly back on the agenda, and with it, are packaging and label designs to accommodate this changing consumer behaviour.
Personal care and cosmetic products tend to enjoy a more opulent image than many other FMCG categories, and packaging and labels need to convey that at a glance. This creates a wide range of challenges and opportunities for brand owners and their design teams.
It’s no secret that online shopping has seen a massive surge in usage in recent years. We see a global growth figure for digital retail of 3% and it seems modest at first glance – but that represents combined billions of dollars in international sales. Savvy retailers are continuing to switch from brick-and-mortar to hybrid models, complementing physical stores with a dedicated sales platform.
Humans are intrinsically tactile beings that respond to touch, which means physical labels and packaging on store shelves play an important role in informing purchase decisions. When the decision is taken online, packaging and label design has to impress in an instant. To deliver an experience without physical product in-hand, label designers must factor in that products are likely to be displayed from a fixed angle, while supplementary information can be included elsewhere.
Under these conditions, tactile finishes that look great on-screen as well as on-shelf, can be an extremely powerful tool for brands. Techniques such as hot and cold foiling, embossing or matt finishing can combine to bring the tactile experience to the digital storefront.
For personal care packaging to succeed on-shelf, it needs to meet several converging consumer trends at once. We can categorise these as functional trends, such as clean label, ingredient transparency and sustainability information, or as aesthetic trends – the brand image or narrative. There is a very clear movement towards minimalism when it comes to packaging design. We tend to associate clean lines and chic simplicity with more luxurious goods, which is a perfect fit for personal care and cosmetics.
To achieve this, many brands looking to engage consumers in this market use very limited colour palettes (while remaining on-brand) and removing extraneous information – at least on the front customer-facing panel. This approach can be particularly effective in online stores where additional information, such as the brand story or a more detailed description of the product, can be included with on-page copy, leaving a clean design on the on-site packaging image.
However, this approach can sit at odds with another important trend in clarity and depth of information. As shoppers, we’re engaged and curious with the products we buy. We want to know more about areas such as ingredient origin, certification, sustainability credentials and nutritional profile. This leaves designers with somewhat of a paradox – with evolving consumer needs high on the priority list, it’s clear that personal care packaging needs to include more information on-pack, while also looking cleaner, neater and more minimalist. To achieve this, we need to think layers and space optimisation.
To meet the evolving demands of today’s consumers, brand owners in personal care and cosmetics have many tools at their disposal. One of the newest available is Multi Dex, the latest innovation from our team at OPM Group.
With Multi Dex, it’s simple to keep packaging design clean, chic and minimalist while also upping the amount of information available on-pack. The innovative ‘peel and read’ design brings a multitude of ‘multis’! It’s multi-layered, multi-indexed, multi-substrate and multi-coloured. This adds up to supreme versatility for brand owners and their packaging design teams.
It’s a true ‘best of both worlds’ solution, enabling eye-catching shelf appeal while providing significant additional space for information. The technology can be used for a wide range of label sizes and requirements, making it a perfect fit for the diverse spectrum of cosmetics and personal care products on the market today. Its adhesive hinge can also be placed anywhere within the label, peeling on the left or right side independently – doubling the amount of indexes available.
The drive for great aesthetics, clarity and experience are crucial to the personal care sector’s development and has been a core consideration in Multi Dex’s development. It can be printed up to ten colours and can incorporate decorative and tactile finishes, ensuring it looks just as great on-screen as it does on the shelf. Despite the relative complexity of the design, the OPM team can produce Multi Dex labels in a single run, eliminating the risk of ad mixes when combining multiple printed webs.
Brands are looking to the future of label design and while it may seem to bring conflicting ideas together in terms of more information but cleaner designs, the reality is that it can be made simple.
With technology such as Multi Dex, the consumer demand for minimalist and clean design doesn’t need to be at odds with the need for more information on-pack. By thinking ‘multi-layered’, we can boost clarity and information availability without harming all-important visual appeal. There’s no reason that functionality should be at the cost of aesthetics.
To find out more about Multi Dex or the wide range of innovative flexible packaging and label solutions available at OPM Group, please visit www.opmgroup.co.uk