So much effort goes into the development of an amazingly effective product. You come up with an idea, research the heck out of it and team up with a rock star cosmetic chemist to get the job done. The two of you work hand in hand, trial after trial, sample after sample until your product is just right. Now what?
As important as it is to have a phenomenal product that your customers can’t live without, it’s kind of hard to get customers if they don’t even know you exist. There is an unlimited supply of beauty products to choose from so you have to put just as much effort into your packaging as you did into your formula to get noticed.
Some of us are blessed with an extra dose of creativity that will serve you well in the visual branding of your product. The majority of us are not so blessed. Consult with a branding expert and/or graphic designer to help you develop the image of your product packaging. These experts often spend their downtime staying on top of their niche and refining their skills. That extra time they spend bettering themselves is a gold mine for you because what they create will be cutting edge, unique and perfect for your brand. Just make sure you REALLY vet the creative that you partner with. There is nothing worse than hiring a branding/design expert to guide your packaging design that doesn’t understand your vision or connect with your brand. Ask me how I know.
Once you know who you’re going to work with to design the artwork for your packaging you can solicit their help with selecting the actual bottles, jars, tubes, etc. It’s a good idea to have a general idea of the type of container you want to use before you get to this point. The best way to find packaging suppliers is to search the buyer’s guides released by cosmetic industry trade publications. My favorite place to look is HAPPI Magazine’s online directory. Pack your patience when you’re on the hunt for new packaging options. The search is a whole lot like digging through the racks at TJ Maxx especially if you’re looking for something specific. You’re going to click a lot of links and go through a lot of pages on websites to find what you’re looking for. Oh, but when you find it! It’s like a ray of sunshine, believe me.
If you’re on a budget you may consider using stock packaging that can take labels or hot stamp printing. Stock packaging is generally more expensive per piece than custom, but you won’t be confined to high minimums. So in the short term you’ll save some cash. Some stock packaging suppliers will allow you to order as little as 1 piece at a time. Of course with that option you won’t be able to get the container printed, rather you would have to use labels for your artwork. If you want your design printed directly on your stock packaging you may see minimums as high as 5,000 pieces.
Custom packaging options are typically more expensive to set up, but less expensive per piece. You will also be required to order a set number of pieces at a time. Typically the minimum order requirement for custom packaging is 10,000 units. If what you want requires the supplier to use new equipment you will have to pay a tooling fee and you will be held to much higher minimums. I’ve seen tooling fees come in at $30,000 with minimum order requirements of 100,000 units. If those numbers scare you then go stock and pay for a killer graphic designer to make your packaging stand out among the giants.
Consider your budget and your ideal brand image before making a final decision about your packaging. If you envision your brand in Sephora, Nordstrom, Bergdorf’s and the like then your packaging cannot be an afterthought. If you need a little inspiration Marc Jacobs, Charlotte Tilbury and Christian Louboutin have all shown us how it’s done.
Here’s to the Glam Life!