February 19, 2017

Packaging that Doubles as an Accessory

Packaging that Doubles as an Accessory

Taking a cue from James Bond, reusable packaging for beauty products is now apparently playing double agent in the form of multi-use containers.

Ever since that first little girl decided her empty box of animal crackers could be upcycled into a posh cardboard purse, product designers have gotten increasingly clever about making multi-use containers for various products. Nowhere is this trend more glaringly apparent than in the vast and mysterious world of cosmetic products and beauty supplies.

It’s… a Sustainability Movement!

Although sustainable, reusable packaging may casually be dubbed a ‘trend’ by the woefully misinformed, GCI® Magazine will have you know that sustainability is in fact a movement, thank you very much.

Consumers have higher expectations for ethical corporate behavior in today’s market, especially those pesky Millennials everyone’s trying to woo. Studies show that Millennials prefer to do business with companies whose policies and politics mesh with their own world view. In simpler language, people who prefer reusable packaging are more likely to purchase items from companies that carry cosmetics in multi-use containers. It’s a shocking revelation, we know.

Logically enough, all this has added up to an increasing number of packaging designers brainstorming on how to make highly consumable personal grooming supplies packaged in more sensible ways.

Value-Add: Not Just a Grammatically Irritating Buzz Phrase

Experts in business lingo love to toss around nearly indecipherable phrases that make them sound like the must really know what they’re talking about. Yet, companies follow their advice nevertheless, so when some so-called marketing whiz mumbles ‘value-add’ at the board of directors, you can bet they hop on the value-add train mighty quick.

The concept of adding value to a product via its packaging is nothing new (go ahead and refer back to Exhibit A: animal crackers), but cosmetics companies are taking this whole multi-use containers thing to an impressive next level.

Some of our favorite examples:

  • The line of products from Tay comes in bamboo jars and dispensers that look like they could’ve walked right out of Bed Bath & Beyond.
  • Method products introduced the first packaging made from ocean plastic—that is, plastic that’s been collected from the world’s oceans and combined with post-consumer recycled plastic.
  •  Origins and their fancy schmancy glass bottles and containers. They also offer an in-store recycling service.
  • Finally, in the interest of honoring both menfolk and the solopreneur, let’s not fail to mention the practical, reusable, undeniably manly tins of mustache wax sold by Madame Scodioli.

We have to admit, it’s come as a huge relief to discover that those spiffy glass and wooden products lining shelves are actually just eco-friendly alternatives to plastic. Otherwise we might’ve thought that using more expensive packaging products was just an excuse to drive a shamelessly cushy profit margin up even higher. Thank goodness we were totally off base!

The Naked Alternative

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention, amid all this talk of sustainability, those product lines that have used the most eco-friendly, reusable packaging possible: air!

LUSH is well-known for their packaging-optional product concepts like solid shampoo bars. Yes, we said solid shampoo bars. Apparently you can even walk into a LUSH store and they’ll slice you off a chunk of soap to ‘package’ right in the palm of your hand.

We can’t deny that’s a pretty earth-friendly way to go, even if you aren’t left with anything afterwards to hold your, uh… well, heck, what do you use those tiny little cosmetics containers for once they’re empty, anyway?

All Hail the Multi-Taskers

Swiss army knives didn’t get to where they are today by being just another knife. No, sir. Instead, they added some scissors and a nail file and a little toothpick to create an eminently more functional end product. And that’s exactly what beauty product packaging is doing, too. Minus the all-too-easily-lost toothpick.

There’s no getting around the fact that we all need to bathe ourselves on a semi-regular basis. Many of us also do things like wash our hair, use deodorant, and apply moisturizing balm to our poor keyboard-calloused fingers. All of these items are used up at some point, leaving a container behind once you’re out of product.

The companies that get why packing all those goodies in multi-use containers just makes good sense are the selfsame companies currently winning over an ever-growing segment of the population. And companies who are ignoring the reusable packaging trend—excuse us; movement—had best get on board mighty quick.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

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