Packaging for Brand, Beauty, and Business
I confess, I’m tempted by gorgeous packing. As the first impression your products makes, packaging matters. So today I want to talk about seven areas you’ll want to work through as you choose packaging for your skin care products.
Packaging Matters More Than We Think
When choosing skin care packaging for your natural and organic skin care line, you have a lot of decisions to make beyond those a conventional skin care company might have. Of course, you’ll want the packaging to visually reflect your brand, but you’ll also want to make sure the packaging reflects your brand values and commitments. For instance, if you are committed to being as Green as Green Can Be, you won’t want to package in anything that isn’t eco-friendly. This includes the obvious things like the container material’s recyclability. It also may mean you want to look for a filling house that has your same values.
Have you ever opened a package only to find the product didn’t live up to the packaging’s promise? Or were you reluctant to buy a product because the packaging didn’t speak to you, only to find the products were AMAZING! You’re not alone in those experiences. There are four questions you want to answer when deciding on your brand expression on packaging:
- What type of container best matches my brand?
- What colors best match my brand?
- Do I want an innovative packaging like bags?
- Do I want my customers to recycle or reuse my packaging?
Knowing how your customers will buy your products will influence your decisions. Will you be selling at Farmers’ Markets and Festivals? Through your spa or salon? Through eCommerce? Your packaging should match the buying environment and your packaging should take into account how people will transport your products – will UPS deliver them in a box? Will you put them in your logo’d spa bag? Or will you include a hemp drawstring bag for products bought at the Farmer’s Market. This will help you determine if you can use glass or light weight plastic or recycled cardboard.
Pricing- It’s Not Just the Cost of a Container
If you’re new to private label manufacturing you may not know to include costs for filling and labeling and also the shipping fees to either you or your distributor in your packaging cost. But these are things to consider as you determine your cost-of-goods and expected margins. What do I mean by this: Say you love this 4-ounce hexagon glass jar with a silver twist top. It’s perfect for your elegant spa and the shape is classy and fun, just like your brand. At about $.75 and $.20 each piece respectively, they are within your price point of less than a dollar for the entire container. Now you need to know how much your filling house will charge to fill it. If your filling house can’t easily handle this type of jar, you will get charged more than you might for an oval or round jar. And if you need to ship across the country, the cost to ship will likely be more than shipping would be for a light-weight plastic jar. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go with the hexagon glass jar, you just need to make sure your end price lets you make money without charging beyond your brand’s price point. Using a simple matrix can help you quickly know if you’ve got your pricing aligned.
|Container||Container Price||Filling Price||Labeling Price||Cost to Ship Bluk||Cost to ship to customer|
We’ll talk about lids in the next section, but those will also add to your finished price.
It’s So About the Lid
Lids can really make or break the product experience. If you’re selling a liquid like a facial toner, and put it in a bottle without a spray pump or a disc cap, you might be asking for trouble if it is hard for the customer to use or if it can easily spill out. Your Account Executive can be a great resource for you as you explore the container/lid duo decisions. Container lid types include:
- Dispensing Caps (disc caps, spout caps, orifice reducer caps, flip tops, shaker tops) – Good for lotions, washes, serums, cleansers, toners, powders or any product where you don’t need to remove the lid to use the product
- Pumps (Treatment Pump, Up-Lock Pump, Down-Lock pump, airless, foamer) – Good for lotions, washes, serums, cleansers, conditioners, soaps
- Sprayer/Mister – Good for toners, misters, air fresheners, linen sprays, body perfumes
- Non-Dispenser Tops (Jar or Tub Lids, Phenolic Lids) – good for cremes, balms, essential oils (phenolic), powders or any product where you have to remove the lid before product use
- Droppers (euro and pipette) – used for essential oils, mixed carrier oils, toners or serums
- Brush Caps – mixed carrier oils for cuticle care
- Sealers and liners – can only be used with dispensing and non-dispensing caps. This is for added protection to show that the product hasn’t been tampered with.
Filling Guidelines – What Goes In What
Some products are just made for treatment pumps in cylindrical bottles and some are just perfect for tubes. Part of your consideration is not only how the customer will best enjoy your product, but how costly it will be to fill. Before you pay for expensive product designs, it’s important to chose the container parts—container, lid, liner, brush, etc., and the filling house. Not all filling houses can economically fill everything. For instance, Essential Wholesale can economically fill .56 OZ sun sticks but the .24 oz lip balms are sent out for filling to a specialty house. The size of your order will also affect the filling costs; small orders may be filled by hand and larger orders may be filled using some specifically designed equipment. So when you’re comparing quotes, be sure you know you’re working with the right container, the right filling house, and the right price for your brand.
Get Samples First!
Before you buy 12 cases of bottles, get some samples and send them to your private label manufacturer before you produce your product. This will save you worlds of trouble in the future. If you really wanted a nice thick crème but truly loved an airless bottle, it might not work with the crème and your manufacturer will need to be able to determine that before you waste your time. A bottle might look perfect but if the filling house’s labeling equipment can’t be used then labeling just got expense as filling house would now have to apply the labels by hand
A Cautionary Tale
Our experience tells us you want to be very cautious when buying packaging from China or from deep discount firms. While the cost-per case may be attractive, cheap packages don’t perform well and the error and failure rate is much higher than average. You waste time; you waste product and you waste your peace of mind. We’ve seen this happen too many times to not tell you up front if we think your packaging choices won’t get you the result you need. However, the final choice is yours and you will need to be okay with that end result.
Although this is last on the list of seven, labeling is critical for natural and organic product lines. Not only must you follow FDA Labeling Guidelines, you’ll want the label to match your brand and your distribution channels. Dr. Bronner’s labels work for his brand, and Aveda’s labels give one the idea of their brand and their brand’s values. They’re different in their expression and in where they sell and their labels reflect that.
Check out our Labeling Guidelines eBook written by our compliance officer, Steven Borden. We think you’ll find it helpful.
Before you go …
It’s good to do some focus groups with your product and hand-filled versions of your product packaging ideas. This will give you good feedback about usability, value vs. perceived value, and whether or not your customers will fall in love with your entire product.
We’d love to know your packaging tips, successes and failures. What’s your process for getting the right packaging for your products?
As always we’re here to help. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
PS – We’ve secured a discount, for all of Essential Wholesale & Labs customers, on packaging from Containers & Packaging Supply. Simply phone them at 800-473-4144 or order online and make a note that you were referred by Essential Wholesale. Container & Packaging will set you up with an account and a price level discount. Each time you log in or view the website, this discount will apply. It’s one more way we help you grow your business.