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Thought Leadership

Packaging may not be the superstar of the personal care world, but the value that innovative design can bring to a brand can be limitless. In an age where ‘unboxing’ videos are tops draws on Instagram and YouTube, a product’s container is no longer a component, but rather a necessary tool for a successful launch.

Great packaging can reinforce ideals, champion social causes, and define a standard for every other company to follow. Successful innovation has put brands into the Zeitgeist, and poor execution has lead to epic flops.

It is not often the first thing a customer thinks of, but package design still affects every use, every connection, and every attitude we have towards the brands that fill our shelves. Take a look at some companies that are leading the way forward in packaging design.

Helmm lays claim to being the world’s first refillable deodorant, providing a functional applicator that reduces plastic waste by 60% per unit. Deodorants and antiperspirant packaging has long been seen as one of the industry’s biggest waste products, owing to the amount of plastic to product ratio needed for the stick to work.

Even if a product’s components are recyclable (most aren’t) there is still an excessive amount of packaging that’s left over once the stick is gone. Instead, co-founders Zach Groffsky and Taylor Lane focused on designing a well-crafted (and stunning) piece of art that just so happens to live in your medicine cabinet. The inserts themselves are recyclable, with the deodorant’s formulation made from eco-friendly and natural ingredients.

Helmm hopes to not only reinvent the product category but use its packaging to reinforce a modern aesthetic and reimagine what prestige means for today’s man in personal care.

Keeping in the spirit of reducing waste, most beauty and personal care products rely heavily on plastics, due to the material’s low cost and easily moldable format. However, all of that plastic adds up — 70% of all U.S. plastic packaging waste ends up in landfills (not to mention what percentage gets lost in the ocean).1

So Seed Phytonutrients put their team to work and created a fully-compostable post-consumer cardboard container. Mixed with chalk (a natural antimicrobial) the package is water-resistant and designed to be used in the shower.

The L’Oreal-incubated brand worked with Ecologic Brands to design the unique packaging, working off of an initial pouch-in-paper-shell concept (the bottles are fitted with recyclable plastic liners and airless pumps). The container’s two halves are then pieced together through glueless, interlocking tabs.

Water-resistance is achieved through the mixture of minerals and paper, with heat pressure binding the paper fibers together. To top it all off, a package of seeds is inserted in between the cardboard and liner, so consumers are reminded to give back to the earth once the shampoo is gone.

As we’ve seen, interchangeable refill packs can help a brand’s packaging in sustainable ways, but they can also double as a sales strategy for the masses. Take, for example, fragrance warehouse Scentbird, who offers a subscription-based model for keeping a person well-stocked in cologne or perfume.

For about $15 a month, customers get an 8 mL refill shipped directly to them, and the online tools to manage scents, shipment frequency, and add on supporting beauty care products. Customers can choose from the company’s catalog of more than 500 designer names, all of which are customized to fit into their slimline atomizer.

Every aspect of the product — from purchasing to packaging is designed for an on-the-go approach, reinforcing the notion that fragrance isn’t a chore, but a self-indulgence we can have anywhere.

The universal refillable premise not only contributes to reducing waste but expands Scentbird’s consumer base, targeting those who are less committed to fragrances. With each bottle designed for only a 30-day supply, customers do not have to make long-term commitments to any particular brand or scent.

The cases — which come in colors like bronze, burgundy, and electric purple — are almost as fun as waiting for the month’s scent to arrive.

Packaging can usher into a new industry concept, as seen in Kao’s product launch, MyKirei. The brand was inspired by the Japanese philosophy of Kirei, which focuses on an aesthetic of beauty, cleanliness, and sustainability.

The name is not only apropos for its product line, but also the packaging it comes in — patented flexible film containers that use air pockets to shape the bottle into place and stand it upright. The bottles use 50% less plastic than comparable products and are recyclable via TerraCycle.

The flexible packaging also provides a water-tight design to prevent contamination, which incidentally leads to less product waste. The inner bag pulls itself inward as the package empties, allowing for more product to be used. (Traditional bottles can leave up to three times as much product behind.)

What’s more, the company offers the MyKirei product line in refill packs, so consumers can reuse the hard plastic pump. Kao hopes that this AFB — air in film bottle — technology can be further applied to more products in the future.

Innovative packaging can be used to address a consumer need as well, as seen in LBK Nails’ line of vegan nail polish. The unique caps contain a hinged PCTG plastic nail painted with actual LBK polish. Consumers can slide their finger under the synthetic nail to see how the color will look in real life.

What’s more, each nail is painted with the exact polish that’s in the bottle. By doing so, LBK helps to address the nuances and variations that can be seen between batches. The company’s manufacturing process is capable of painting one tip every two seconds as the bottles come down the line.

The cap also provides a sanitary benefit, as customers do not need to unscrew the cap to inspect the color inside the bottle. What’s more, the company believes it is providing retailers an extra layer of savings. Tony Kemeny Jr., founder of Kemeny Designs and LBK Nails, believes that stores lose up to 2% through maintenance costs related to customers damaging displays with polish or contamination through opening the container.

The company works with VEM Tooling for the molded caps and paints the nail tips in their Anaheim, California facility. They utilize proprietary robotic technology to create an efficient mass-produced packaging operation.

Packaging that goes beyond a functional use, and into one’s brand representation can be highly effective in driving sales. KKW Beauty found that to be true in their Body fragrance.

Kim Kardashian West — The brand’s principal and public face — chose a shapely glass bottle designed from a mold of her actual body. Leaning into her famous physique, the company designed a bottle that reminded one of ancient Greek or Roman statues.

“My home has all these sculptures in it,” West told Allure magazine in 2018.2 “We have these two big angels that are similar to the bottle as they’re just torsos with no heads.”

Although there has been a long history of perfumes in female-shaped bottles, KKW’s was a pioneer for it’s ability to so clearly blend their celebrity with seriousness in perfumery. The glass bottle includes a 100 mL satin silver XD11 pump and the outside is texture-coated to feel and look like sand.

Even the secondary packaging adds to the visual appeal. A collapsable paper box cradles the perfume and mimics a museum’s pedestal when unwrapped.

Packaging That Moves Us

Our industry will always be an execution of art and formulation, one that uses packaging to drive beauty and personal care forward. From our early industry leaders and apothecary roots, package design has always presented a unique face to our personal care routines.

Companies find value in creating something that more than just a container, but something that inspires us, reinforces a brand’s uniqueness, and allows us to consider what’s possible for future brands.

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While the global pandemic has affected us all in profound ways, the beauty and personal care industry has been uniquely transformed. The routines we have, the brands we’re loyal to, and the priority we assign to self-care will forever be defined in ‘before and after’ terms.

As the market continues to adjust to a new normal, brands are taking steps to assess the consumer landscape, solidify brand loyalty, and evaluate how shoppers interact with and buy their products. Even though the personal care industry has historically been resilient when it comes to recessions, this pandemic caused extreme hardships for many of us. Still, some brands were in a better position to adapt to retail changes that were on the horizon even before the virus hit.

Despite lockdowns bringing most industries to a halt, the personal care market was able to see faster rebounds. This suggests that the losses brands will experience might be short-lived. In February 2020 for example, China’s personal care market declined 80% year-over-year, but only dipped 20% year-over-year for March’s numbers.1

A lot of what factored into the success or failure of a brand depended on how it was sold, and what type of personal care product it was. Many direct-to-consumer brands were able to continue unabated, whereas products distributed through salons and barbershops were forced to find novel ways to keep customers in stock.

Emerging brands that started on the internet were able to leverage an infrastructure that was already quarantine-friendly. Many of those companies upped digital ad buys and evaluated their warehouses and shipping policies for safety or efficiency improvements. The rest of the industry tried to follow suit, with some brands doing better than others.

This in turn added jet fuel to the already expanding lead eCommerce had gained over traditional retail. Over the last decade, online purchases grew faster than their in-store counterparts by a measure of 2 to 1. For personal care specifically, in-store sales grew by 184% in ten years but paled in comparison with a 432% growth online. That growth was largely fueled by the world’s largest online drugstore — Amazon — which saw a 1,045% increase in sales over the same 10-year period.2

It’s obvious that eCommerce is in a boom, but as we dig deeper into the numbers, it’s apparent that traditional brick-and-mortar stores have a deep influence on consumers (even those who eventually purchase online).

From the Baby Boomers to Gen-Z, completely in-store purchases (shopped in-store, bought in-store) dipped by 42 points. Fully online purchases only increased 7 points. Most of the swing — a 292% increase — went towards a combination of shopping in-store and buying online (or vice versa).

The purchasing of personal care products is still deeply reliant on the physical store connection. While we’re apt to embrace digital commerce, we still crave the ability to discover beauty products by touching, feeling, and smelling. We value expertise in helping us find the right products and we are enamored by the shopping experience’s mise en scène.

The brands we have previous loyalty towards do not require the same sensory experience, and shifting a portion of those purchases online would not be as disruptive. However, for many emerging brands, a completely digital experience misses out on an important customer connection. If this shift towards online purchasing has indeed been fast-tracked by the pandemic, it will cause ripples throughout the industry.

The $64,000 question is whether or not this shift will be permanent, completely subside, or result in a mix between the two. Many consumers who have changed their behavior in how they bought personal care products will continue with their new normal. These numbers have potential, with eMarketer reporting that in a 1-month timespan during the height of the pandemic, U.S. adults who shifted their purchases from physical to online stores increased by 68%.3

Therefore, if brands want to find new audiences, they are at a minimum going to have to figure out how to bring the sensory experience to a digital world. Subscription services — which have grown in popularity by 890%4 — are tailor-made for the customer experience. Brands that have sophisticated social media and influencer followers can easily provide digital word-of-mouth.

Still, how personal care shopping might change in the short- and long-term is likely going to depend on the type of product we’re talking about. We’ll take a look at three basic categories:

Personal Care Essentials

The most reliable category of products includes everything we use in our day-to-day routines. Soap, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant — these are brands with reliable source-of-supply and have historically weathered most economic downturns. They are also products that are often purchased in grocery stores and drug stores, and not as much online. Companies have made inroads trying to change that, but have a long way to go before they catch up to other product categories.

Prestige, Luxury, and Masstige

There are a lot of products we love, but in a pinch, we can live without. In poor economic times, these more dispensable products are often swapped out for cheaper brands or forgotten altogether. (Although much has been written about the Lipstick Effect, where the little indulgences help us cope with scaling back larger stuff.) This category does enjoy a large amount of online sales, but many of them are also dependant on department stores, hair salons, nail bars, and spas.

The Unknowns

The discovery of new products, ingredients, and innovations is one of the lifebloods of our industry. As consumers, we are always looking for new brands that meet our unique physiology or address a specific pain point. These brands often have a higher price point and most have successful online operations. However, they are also heavily dependant on the in-store experience to bring in new customers. Curated box services have proven themselves to be a good digital storefront, but the majority of consumers still want a tactile experience before they trust a brand enough to buy.

Expanding Options for Basic Necessities

Our most essential personal care products were not impacted as much by the pandemic as other product categories. While the onset saw a lot of out-of-stock signs, grocery stores and online retailers were able to resupply inventories. With some looking to stock up on staples, sales in this category actually increased.

The biggest change for this category was not if consumers purchased their product but how. Before lockdowns and stay-in-place orders, essentials were often bought at grocery stores, pharmacies, and big-box stores. Brand loyalty was extremely high, and consumers’ source-of-supply was predictable.

The lockdowns forced the closure of many stores — and while some were allowed to remain open, consumers were not confident in the safety of in-store shopping. Consumers were forced to look elsewhere for the basics, and Amazon, online retailers, and direct-to-consumer brands filled the void.

After discovering that going online for essentials offers some convenience (price comparison, automatic refill shipping, bulk purchasing of shelf-stable products) this category may maintain more of its online gains. The Benchmarking Company released a survey that found 35% of respondents plan to continue automatic online ordering for personal care supplies.5

Out-of-the-Box Marketing for Prestige Care

For all the brands we use because they go above and beyond the basics, it’s unclear how they might survive if department stores and boutique retailers suffer in the long term. While we still seek to indulge ourselves, brands with higher price points or those that provide a supplemental benefit will likely feel the pinch the longer a recession drags on.

Retail stores and salons found success with out-of-the-box ideas like curbside pickup and DIY kits. These may be the key to weathering a recession or surviving a permanent shift in purchase behavior. Businesses without an online component should add one (and should regardless of pandemics) since younger generations are always more connected online.

Building a Sales Strategy for The Unknown

The most unpredictable outcomes for a rapid shift in consumer behavior will likely fall to the discovery of new brands. (This category also includes prestige beauty and basic goods we haven’t yet discovered.) If in-store foot traffic remains quiet, brands will have to shift marketing strategy or lose market share.

As we’ve mentioned before, it’s unlikely that a shopper’s desire to buy in person will disappear altogether. There is a therapeutic element to browsing the aisles, but the waters will still be shaky. Local businesses may fall to larger chains, and brands will need to increase exposure across all channels.

Influencers will likely yield more star power, serving as an important conduit between ‘the problem’ and ‘the solution.’ People find value in a store’s expert advice, and Instagrammers have large followings that can offer authentic opinions (even if they’re backed by advertising revenue).

We may see some regression in manufacturing processes that have driven our industry forward over the last few years. Products designed for small carbon footprints, for example, might be less desirable than packaging-heavy (but more sanitary) products. Brands with large portfolios of SKUs or on-demand inventories may have to consolidate product lines and manufacturing runs. Contract Manufacturers may take precedence over the installation of long-term upgrades. Consumers may even gravitate towards multi-issue products (like hand sanitizers that moisturize or sunscreen with anti-aging properties).

The most rational assumption is that no matter what, brands will need to evaluate their successes and failures and be prepared to adapt business strategy quickly if needed.

Charting a Path Forward

There is still so much we do not know about how consumers (including ourselves) will behave in a post-COVID world. During the pandemic, our digital connection with each other emerged as a savior for a lot of what we did. Work, education, socializing, and yes, shopping, took new meaning and structure online.

We may look back in a year and see that the numbers were temporary and we’ve reverted to a world that more resembles 2019. Perhaps. The truth is, no matter how long there was a shift, or how things did or didn’t change, we’re always going to be moving towards a marketplace that looks more digital and connected. Brands must strive to reinvent themselves in new ways, and the pandemic just bumped that up in priority.

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It comes as no surprise to say that men are not the largest demographic in personal care. Even in today’s modern era, the vast majority of TV, radio, magazine, and social media ads are geared towards women.

However, there’s a surprising reality when it comes to gender and personal care: guys are more into their appearance than we think. A 2019 MINDBODY Wellness Index Report found that 39% of men prioritized grooming and self-care — compared to 40% of women. What’s more, the Average Joe only spends $6 less a month than women do on personal care products.1

Men’s grooming is expected to grow to more than $29 billion by 2024,2 which underscores a major market opportunity for personal care companies. Recognizing this, the industry’s top brands are seriously focusing their energy on this growing demographic.

Successfully capturing market share however, involves more than just selling women’s products to men. To be truly effective, products need to address the nuances of men’s care and be formulated specifically for the Y chromosome. Men have 25% thicker skin, bigger pores, and more collagen. Testosterone affects the production of the sebaceous glands, leading to oilier skin. Their daily routines are a mix of gym sessions, business meetings, and late nights.

Plus, a guy’s priorities differ from women and their personal care products need to reflect that. The brands that appeal to men address a simplified routine, easy-to-understand ingredients, and an on-the-go attitude. Guys might be interested in hydrating their skin, but they don’t want it to be a lot of work.

To truly understand where a man’s interest is in personal care, you have to look beyond the dopp kit. A guy’s grooming habits go hand in hand with his sense of style, influenced by the experiences around him. He visits whiskey bars, gets his hair trimmed at a barbershop, and socializes over pickup basketball. All of these influences contribute to his mindset of what makes a man.

Responding to this, we’re seeing a proliferation of SKUs entering the market, each going beyond the basics of soap and shampoo. There’s a deodorant for work and another for play, pomades hydrate as much as they hold, and beard oils are formulated with enough care to make an apothecary blush.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Even if they’re hitting the right notes, and despite a boom in the men’s care industry, the success of many brands comes with some serious hurdles. Men are creatures of habit, and introducing new ones into the mix can be a hairy situation. To succeed in the long term, a brand needs to get guys to break with their routines.

Take for example, the most universal of men’s grooming habits: shaving. Despite beards’ regained popularity, 75% of men shave every day.3 The practice is so universal, guys view it as a major milestone in their journey towards manhood. Even learning how to shave is a sacred ritual, something that is passed down from father to son like a gold pocket watch.

This highlights the need for brands to explain ‘the why’ when introducing something like a new beard care product guys didn’t know they needed.

The Next Generation of Men’s Care

Historically, men’s care has been driven by the basics — shaving, body wash, deodorant, hair styling — where today’s top brands have dominated since the industry began. Recently though, emerging brands have attempted to upend the market, remodeling the old game from the ground up. Their aim is to steal market share by combating the myth that these things are just for women. Men might not be looking to get pampered, but they still want to look good.

Pioneer disruptors include companies looking to introduce old concepts to a group that has traditionally dismissed them. Moisturizing, face mask treatments, manicures and pedicures, and even makeup — these are all self-care practices that aren’t commonplace among men but have the potential to be.

Of course new products aren’t going to be effective streams of revenue if guys aren’t open to using them. This goes back to the concept of being able to overcome habitual biases and break old routines. To help achieve this, brands are shifting their marketing from the classic ‘what gets a girl’ messaging to one that showcases the benefits of good grooming, how it fits into a man’s lifestyle, how personal care is self-care, and why it needs to be a part of one’s daily routine (right there next to shaving).

Influencers are playing a big part in this coaching, particularly among the younger generations that spend hours on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Vloggers like Aaron Marino (@aaronmarino), Joseph Andrews (@blumaan), and Alex Costa (@alexcosta) cover a range of personal care topics, from product reviews to home workouts, and the best sneakers to pair with that hand-stitched Cubano shirt.

Even though they come from a virtual connection, these referrals have the influence of a personal connection. They are extremely successful at introducing new ideas (like a weekly face mask treatment) and getting men to try products they previously overlooked. Furthermore, introducing new personal care trends over Instagram encourages consumers to share their own experience on the same platform, turning themselves into spokespeople to their own social circles.

Getting a Routine to Stick

Formulating a great product and getting men to want to use it are lofty first steps, but they won’t create a revolution on their own unless guys stick with them. Keeping up with a new routine is critical in building men’s grooming into that $26 billion dollar empire.

Subscription services tend to be something that fits well with men’s care products because they offer both the ability to discover new product types and brands, but also offer the convenience of scheduled delivery and that no-hassle approach guys love.

Even better, services like Birchbox and Bespoke Post — ones that focus on clothing and lifestyle products in addition to personal care brands — can more effectively tie in the connection between style, appearance, and social life.

Brands Making an Impression

These personal care names are blazing the path forward in men’s grooming.

Stryx has taken concealer to a totally geek level and it’s awesome. Recognizing that men too have blemishes they need to cover up (and again, a guy’s skin has unique needs) they created a concealer pen that’s almost as cool-looking as it is functional.

Their product line also includes tinted moisturizer, and both products work to hide pimples, dark circles, scars, and other skin imperfections. Everything is designed for an on-the-go lifestyle because ease-of-use is critical in a guy’s routine.

Huron is about getting serious with proper skin and hair care for every type of guy — the bartender, the barber, the mechanic, and the everyday man. Recognizing that a lot of guys don’t know what products to use and when, they built a product line designed to ‘brave the bathroom and look after yourself.’

Their brand extends beyond the products they sell, to resources on styling, how to improve your personal hygiene, and the ingredients that make up a man.

Consistently ranked as one of the best pomades on the market, Suavecito has given an old idea a modern makeover. Tapping into the barbershop culture, the company’s pomades, waxes, clays, gels, beard oils, and mustache wax are formulated to fit a guy’s lifestyle (and provide superior results with easy-to-wash-out ingredients).

Suavecito takes their branding a step further, touting initiatives like their Firme Club, which promotes the idea that fitness and great hair are a match made in heaven.

Founded as a single apothecary-style shop in Chelsea, Malin + Goetz is a skincare brand that focuses on sensitive skin backed by science and has grown into a complete line of face, body, hair, and fragrance products.

Technically formulated for all genders, the brand is on a mission to simplify skincare. Their wide range of SKUs typically consist of a two-step routine (cleanser + moisturizer) with additional products specific to one’s problem areas.

It’s clear that men’s care is on an upward trend, but there are still a lot of questions to answer before we truly get a sense of where this market will end up. As consumers and CPGs engage in conversations about personal care, as they set out to redefine masculinity, and as they introduce new (and sometimes genderless) concepts, we will gain a better understanding of the industry’s potential.

In the meantime, brands that embrace change and novel ideas will find themselves in a better position to lead men’s personal care into the next era. Guys are absolutely looking beyond the functional when it comes to their personal care products and how they integrate into their respective self-care routines. This isn’t an anomaly brands are working around — it’s a seismic shift rebranding the industry.

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Established Brands are Updating Their Workflow to Compete in the World’s Largest Digital Marketplace

It’s no secret that Amazon has transformed the way we shop online. The retailer has permeated into so many aspects of our lives, influencing the things we buy, from household items to electronics to groceries. According to their investor report, Amazon sold more than $285 billion in goods in 2019, which was an 18% increase over the previous year.

Amazon has forced CPGs to adapt their workflows to compete for (or preserve) market share and tamp down competition from disrupting brands. The beauty and personal care industry has been particularly affected, as the Seattle-based retail giant has given a world-wide platform to anyone who wants it.

The challenges for beauty and personal care brands to sell on Amazon can be complex. Consumer reach, inventory management, SKU proliferation, stock buyouts, third-party sellers, and packaging constraints are just a few of the difficulties CPGs need to monitor when adding Amazon to their existing retail store sales strategy.

From the consumer’s point of view, most people understand the basics of how Amazon works. Their website offers quick and easy searches for nearly any product imaginable, one-click buying, and famous 2-day delivery for Prime members. To maximize success, Amazon invests a great deal of money in its interface design, so that the user experience is as intuitive as it can be.

The mechanics behind the storefront however, are a lot more complex. Amazon works much like paid advertising, with its keyword bidding, cost-per-click metrics, and paid priority placement. The more a company pays to be at the top of a product search, the better chance they have at harnessing the shopper with a half-second attention span.

The platform’s underlying search functionality operates under something known as the A9 algorithm. In a general sense, A9 is an iterative search methodology that analyzes all the data crossing through the Marketplace.

Digging deeper, A9 is a sophisticated collection of consumer behavior and seller strategy designed to offer a competitive market with cost-effective pricing and ample upsell opportunities.

What affects a brand’s ranking within A9? In short, everything. However, there are some key components that can bump a product up in the listings:

Sales Volume

The more popular a product is, the more likely Amazon recommends it. This makes sense since the ultimate goal is to make money. Keep in mind that Amazon is also in the service business, so if they know a product is wanted, they like to make sure it’s available.

Inventory

Which gets us to inventory. Amazon hates when a product is listed as out-of-stock, so keeping the supply flowing is essential to success. Multiple layers of the distribution chain complicate the process, and every brand works towards obtaining the exclusive ‘fulfilled by Amazon’ label. Being FBA means that excess inventory is stocked within Amazon fulfillment centers, allowing for a path towards high-volume sales and shipments.

If a brand hasn’t established their bona fides with Amazon and is constantly playing catch-up with product supply, Amazon is going to push those companies to handle inventory themselves. They might require only the minimum amount needed at fulfillment centers to keep pace with existing sales. It can be harder then, for products to drive growth, since inventory isn’t guaranteed.

Pricing

Not only does Amazon want to offer customers a good deal, but they want to make sure they’re not being undercut on external channels. If a product is offered at a lower cost outside the platform, it can prevent Amazon from displaying the all-important ‘Buy Box.’ This one-click buy now button appears for products that are priced appropriately and sold by trusted sellers.

It may sound counter intuitive, but untrusted sellers end up with a link to ‘see all buying options.’ It’s a lot like being stuck at the leftovers’ table at your cousin’s wedding.

Advertising

Finally, Amazon rewards those who play the game, and that means paying for all of those promotional spots mentioned before. Plan on investing in Amazon’s sales workflow.

Amazon’s Future of Packaging

Another challenge for CPGs is how to handle packaging for the products they sell through the Marketplace. It can be particularly hard for established brands that developed products with a retail strategy in mind to revamp an entire product line with separate packaging for Amazon’s customer base.

Part of the Amazon’s success is their thirst for continuous improvement along every step of the supply chain. The company strives to make good on their mission for great customer service (which they believe is just as much about things like packaging as it is for speed of delivery).

In the past five years, it is estimated that Amazon used more than 23 billion square feet of corrugated cardboard.5 If you’ve ever gotten a package within a package within a package, you know this phenomenon.

Now, Amazon has been encouraging CPGs to create ‘frustration-free packaging,’ which are made from 100% recyclable materials, easy to open, and designed to ship without secondary or tertiary packaging. The company claims this approach is now seen on 750,000 of the products they sell.

It sounds simple, but can be a tricky feat to accomplish. Brands don’t always have the luxury of separate packaging lines just for Amazon. Instead, many utilize third-party repackaging centers, which literally rip open the packaged goods, leaving all of the retail display packaging to waste. Looking forward, more and more brands are adopting packaging that can work for all retailers.

So what can a company do to ensure success within Amazon? There are several first steps brands big and small can take:

Hire a Consultant

Understand that Amazon breaks the mold of traditional retail. After all, what brick-and-mortar store changes hour by hour? Therefore, it’s best to approach Amazon with the right brain trust. An AMZ consultant can conduct organizational reviews, recommend changes in operations, and evaluate pain points before they hamper your efforts in the Marketplace.

Make sure you identify clear objectives and goals for the platform, so that you are better able to evaluate any success or missteps. If you utilize an outsourced manufacturing workflow, choose one that can recommend the right kind of packaging and production schedule to work across all channels of distribution. After you’ve got all of your ducks in a row, you’ll be more successful on your eventual product rollout.

Organized Workflow

Make sure your internal operations reflect your commitment to Amazon by devoting specific personnel to this channel. A successful Marketplace operation is more attainable when there is a single point person at your company funneling all of the project needs. This person will be more effective at solving unforeseen issues as they arise, than they would if this responsibility were distributed across multiple roles within the company.

Review SKUs

Brands can have better success if they’re strategically choosing which products they sell on Amazon as compared elsewhere. If you’re just starting out, start small and concentrate on a few SKUs specific to Amazon. Measure success and use it as a case study towards other products when you decide to expand.

Invest in the User Experience

Amazon offers sellers the ability to create custom storefronts — a landing page of information and products. Just because it’s a digital store shelf, doesn’t make it less important than a physical shelf.

Prevent Brand Hijacking

One of Amazon’s underbellies includes third-party vendors who buy your product on closeouts, reselling it through the Marketplace. Legal or not, Amazon can sometimes trip over themselves policing this, leaving brands to take care of it themselves. By managing inventory off of the Marketplace, you can help eliminate the possibility of competing with other sellers selling your own product.

Subscribe & Save

If your product is something that’s a part of someone’s daily personal care routine, consider participating in their ‘Subscribe & Save’ option. This allows customers to automatically reorder product on a set schedule, leaving the worry that one will run out of toothpaste and need to make a quick run to the grocery store. Subscribe & Save also helps to build brand loyalty and increases profits over the long term.

Keep an Eye on the Competition

If you’re an established brand, make sure to watch what’s happening with disruptors and other emerging brands. If you’re an emerging brand, recognize that one day you won’t be. Part of personal care’s success on Amazon stems from the fact that anyone can reach a network of consumers without the investment of building a network of stores. That means that there will always be brands trying to build on the success of others.

Amazon has clearly positioned itself as the leader in online retail and will continue to revolutionize how we shop online (and integrate purchases into our daily lives). Pretty much every consumer brand — particularly those that came before Amazon — need to identify and address ways to evolve their own internal operations to work efficiently with online retail.

As a society, the way we make purchases online is always evolving, and it will continue to do so forever. Future innovations similar to the smartphone or Echo will continue to push commerce in a new direction and it will be the companies that resist this change who are left out in the cold.

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Some of what we have in our bathroom cabinet has been routine for a long time. While our industry is always innovating, developing new formulas and using superior ingredients, the basic concept of what a product is, how we use it, or what type of process we use to make it largely stays the same.

That’s changing in a lot of aspects of what we do, and especially for some brands who instead of improving upon an idea, prefer to change it from the ground up.

Here we have five brands who have taken a look at common toiletries and proposed revolutionary changes.

What’s more, being an active person, playing sports, or even showering has no effect on Nuud’s ability to neutralize bacteria and work in concert with our sweat glands’ natural processes.

In trying to create an armpit revolution, Nuud is puttng a spotlight on our pits and the science behind traditional antiperspirants (whose aluminum mixes with sweat, clogging pores). In fact, the product’s chemistry is unique enough that they recommend all users undergo an armpit ‘detox’ while they transition to a new way of life ­— fresh armpits worldwide.

Field-Tested Innovation

Founded in 2018 by industry veterans Benjamin Bernet and Justin Guilbert, Bravo Sierra has made tenets of the armed forces tentpoles of their brand.

When the pair decided to venture out into their own (Bernet ran men’s skin care at Kiehl’s and L’Oreal, and Guilbert ran marketing operations for Garnier, and Maybelline) they looked towards the military as an ideal model of personal care.

Not only did servicemen fit their outlook on personal care, but they represented a core brand personality Bravo Sierra could wrap themselves around.

“They are people who have each others’ backs, no matter where they are from.” said Guilbert. “We thought it an appealing, positive, almost progressive unifying message.”

Marketing to army vets is nothing new — companies have been doing it for decades. However, Bravo’s approach is much more than slapping a we support the troops bumper sticker on the bottle.

The products are designed for active duty — be it in Gold’s Gym or in Afghanistan — and everything is field tested through their Active Duty Field Development & Testing program.

Their chief innovation is in how they make the product. Through a network of proprietary tools and social channels, Bravo collaborates directly with consumers on product feedback and ideation. They call it social manufacturing and believe it’s the next frontier in product development.

The company was rewarded last year with $6.7 Million in venture capital funding, and keeping to their philosophy on personal care, Bravo donates 5% of its sales to Army,  Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.

A Day & Night Approach to Oral Care

Toothpaste isn’t known as being the rock star of the medicine cabinet, but it has its moments. It’s the most commonly used personal care item in the U.S. (97% of all Americans use it)2 but our routines about it are largely set in stone.

In other parts of the world, habits are different, less so, or even non-existent. That’s what motivated founding brothers Julian and Cody Levine to partner with Lenny Kravitz, and evolve brushing into a ritual, rather than a chore. In the process, they could provide access to dental care to those without it.

Twice’s mission is simple: create an experience people can look forward to, and provide them with the tools they need to commit to a healthy oral care routine. At the same time, use their partnership with world organizations to provide that experience to those who don’t have a steady regiment. The company believes that a healthy smile can be a life-changing experience.

Twice toothpaste is sold in bundles — a wintergreen and peppermint flavor to wake you in the morning, and calming vanilla and lavender for nighttime brushing. Both formulas are naturally-sourced, vegan-friendly, and free of SLS, PEGs, parabens, and gluten.

Naturally, the company gives back to the communities that inspired them. Partnering with the GLO Good Foundation, 10% of all profits are donated to provide funding for more missions around the world. As they note in their promotional materials, whoever said a smile can’t change the world, clearly wasn’t using the right toothpaste.

Laying a Foundation, 5% of the Time

Set to debut in the Summer of 2020, Procter & Gamble’s newest gadget is approaching blemishes in a whole new way. Part computer, part ink-jet printer, Opte digitally scans your skin, analyzes your complexion, and dispenses a layer of foundation specific to individual spots and blemishes.

If an area has no blemishes, Opte does nothing. If a spot has some tonal imperfections, Opte prints picolitre droplets of their proprietary Spot Optimizing Serum.

Every blemish is individually analyzed, allowing for the precise amount of serum to blend in seamlessly with the rest of your skin. The serum also works to reduce blemish visibility over time.

The device made its debut at CES 2019 and began turning heads immediately. Since then, the company has improved performance, processing images 30% faster and making it 70% less expensive.3 The internal camera captures 200 frames per second and uses an algorithm to detect imperfections even beyond what we can see with the human eye.

Face Masks for the Common Man

The personal care segment for men is one-quarter the size for women,4 and the Wolf Project trying to challenge misconceptions that face masks are strictly a women’s issue. Founder Francesco Urso was in Asia and noticed he saw far less stigma there around men and face masks. Surprised how much he enjoyed it himself, he set out to create a superior product the Average Joe would use.

Their line of charcoal face products are designed specifically for the differences in a man’s skin (including a 20% thicker layer of dermis, higher oil levels and increased pore size). They boast the same rejuvinating effect touted by the best women’s-focused brands in the industry.

Wolf is out to promotes their core philosophy: that having good skin doesn’t have to compete with a man’s priorities. After all, you can easily take thirty minutes for a fresh face before you take the Harley out for a spin.

An Innovation Reboot

Advancements in personal care go beyond new ingredients and breakthrough formulas. At times, we need to take a new approach to the everyday products that built this industry. Good brands are soliciting feedback, testing products, and coming up with novel ideas for taboo topics.

Companies will continue to grow beyond the basics and challenge what we do in personal care. Are we reinventing the wheel? In some cases, yes. In others, it’s a natural progression of an industry that’s full of ideas.

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Today’s personal care industry is in the midst of a modern day renaissance. From sourcing to formulation, manufacturing to consumer use, new innovations in beauty care are hitting the market every single day.

Some of this innovation comes from societal concerns — sustainability, social welfare, resource management. Some of it comes from imagination — approaching a familiar habit with new ideas. Some of it even comes as a result of a changing regulatory environment (think CBD, baby).

Whatever the source, innovation helps drive our industry forward. There are some impressive innovation trends to watch for in 2020:

Innovating Personal Care for the Soul

We’ve moved beyond the Me Generation and into to the Generations of Me. Across all demographics, consumers are approaching personal care as more than just the habits we have and the products we use.

Personal care is becoming a holistic concept, blending together our mindfulness, what we eat, and how we conduct ourselves, with the ingredients that go into the brands we consume.

Companies that are successfully connecting with today’s customers are addressing epigenetics, sleep rhythms, and other wellness perspectives into the products they make. They are formulating a connection that compliments our genomic makeup with the goal of supporting or enhancing our bodies natural abilities to heal and repair.

Skin care can expect to see the most revolution, having been a segment of the industry that has already started moving beyond traditional glamour. Dove made a name for itself emphasizing beauty that reflects our chi and how we can start to drop external stigmas and pressure.

Beauty isn’t just in the eye of the beholder, it’s also in how we behold ourselves.

Innovating an Industry of Clean Beauty

As consumers become more woke, they are paying as much attention to the products they use as they are to the ingredients in them. This growing scrutiny has defined a clean movement and what it means to be toxic.

This trend of course has been on the rise for years, but what’s shifting today is how we define the standard. The challenge is a lack of across-the-board definitions. Up until now, brands have been creating their own to suit their needs, but we expect a shift towards the adoption of industry-wide standards.

Science is continuing to make advancements towards this cause. We will see a greater push for natural and environmentally-friendly extraction processes like Sederma’s use of super critical CO2 (versus traditional harsh solvents) to obtain apium graveolens for their Apiscalp ingredient (designed to provide scalp comforting benefits).

Brands focused on green principles will expand their influence on the industry — and in the next decade — bring a standard of green that operates on all levels.

Innovating Nutraceuticals into Our Topicals

Formulations that meet these eco objectives have the added benefit of providing a connection between the health and wellness outside and inside our bodies.

The use of nutraceuticals and superfoods in personal care and beauty products will continue to grow, mimicking the rise we’ve seen in the food industry. This year will bring ingredients like seaweed, kelp, jackfruit, and vegetable waters to the forefront of product formulation.

Innovating our Connection with Microbiomes

As we continue to learn about the strong correlation between our skin bacteria and our overall topical health, personal care products that promote a balanced microbiome will be on the uptrend. Scientists have been studying this field for decades, but we are only beginning to understand the diversity of our microbiota, and how it affects our overall wellness.

Innovating a New Regulatory Affair

In the beauty space, brands are used to competing against a landscape of disruptors, and we often find ourselves with ingredients that disrupt as well. Formulators in every segment of personal care have been working to understand and capitalize on the benefits of a specific extract, cannabidiol.

CBD, hemp, and other cannabis related ingredients have experienced exponential growth just over the past few years. Federal laws have been changed to allow for non-psychoactive components to be used in research and product development, adding to a whole new segment in health and wellness.

What we have still, are regulatory challenges and a lack of published data on the science behind the topical benefits of CBD. We have some understanding of the benefits, but still have much more work to do in the next decade on understanding the full impact of these new ingredients. Expect CBD to be a topic of conversation at every formulation seminar this year.

Innovating Personalization with Technology

Since today’s consumers are entrenched in their personal genomics, companies have a great interest in showing products that are individually tailored. Customers can now pick and choose solutions-based kits or receive formulations tailored from data-based platforms. We can even chose our packaging or have products branded with customized labels.

This tailorization not only matches customers with more appropriate products, but builds brand loyalty, increases customer satisfaction, and enables a powerful data collection apparatus.

The subscription-based segment has been particularly quick to adapt to this mindset, offering kits for a completely unique personal care routine. Some brands have begun to offer customers the ability to purchase added ampoules with tailored additives for extra efficacy.

Advanced technology has brought the science lab to our bathrooms, allowing for scans of a person’s face to determine moisture levels or DNA characteristics. L’Oréal has developed Perso, a three-in-one device that uses a camera, breezometer, and personal preferences to formulate a one-of-a-kind, single-dose application right in front of you.

This trend will continue to expand as companies that are matching technology with formulation tend to outperform those that have not yet adapted.

Innovating in the Age of Conscious Beauty

About more than just the environment, our collective shift towards a more sustainable future has influenced every part of how we act as consumers.

We are more passionate about our footprint and are concerned with how today’s actions can affect the ecology, social welfare, and economics across the globe. This passion has led to a worldwide Conscious Beauty movement.

Formulating and manufacturing from a sustainability perspective is not new, but is growing at the fastest rate we’ve ever seen. Companies have made big commitments to reducing their footprint and contributing to the greater good.

We will see innovations that continue this movement — waterless products, upcycled packaging, energy-efficient manufacturing, and waste reduction programs. Clariant, a Swiss-based chemical company is touting the upcycling of a citrus extract from unripe green citrus unshiu. Normally harvested only to boost tree growth, this fruit is instead collected and processed into an extract rich in synephrine and hesperidin.1

Brands are also finding value in the marketing and notoriety of these programs, and are establishing foundations to further their cause. Sustainability is no longer an afterthought, it’s a priority.

It’s easy to highlight the amazing innovations expected this year, but harder to predict their exact impact on our industry. Yes, sustainable manufacturing is expected to grow, but it’s impossible to see exactly how that will affect corollary practices ten, twenty, or even fifty years from now.

With more being given back to the communities in which a product is sourced, advancements in chemical manufacturing focusing more on natural than synthetic, and imagining the impossible in what we can do in the digital age, we can certainly say personal care is moving in an upward direction.

We are embarking on an exciting new era of discovery, and one that will forever change the way we see ourselves, access the beauty within us, and cement our contribution in a world more connected than ever.

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The actions we take in regards to our personal care are nuanced on a personal level. We are all starting to become more self-aware that our selves have unique goals and objectives.

Which is why the companies that produce the products that cater to our everyday needs are focusing on new ways to capture the attention of consumers. Brands both big and small are recognizing the hunger that consumers have for discovering novel solutions to the new priorities in their lives.

Women are exploring new brands unique to their physiology. Men are discovering ways to bring some sophistication back to their lifestyle. Millennials are increasingly concerned with the effects of cosmetics on animals and the environment. So what exactly does personal care mean in today’s global market?

Women: Redefining Beauty and Personalized Care

Women have consistently been the most active demographic in the personal care industry, but what connects women with brands has evolved over time. Today’s woman isn’t a single entity, but a vast collective of different personalities, backgrounds, and needs. Today’s woman is also someone who is redefining what is essential to beauty.

More and more women are viewing self-care as more than just lipstick and bubble baths. It’s about sometimes saying no, about creating time for oneself, about letting go and ‘sweating it out,’ and about the products that align with this concept of beauty.

Women are also finding comfort in the ability to align brands with their specific skin types, ethnicities, and physicality. Our ability to formulate products on a microtargeted scale is allowing brands like Cantu to create lines of skin creams, makeup, and shampoos that condition in a more scientific way.

Lastly, women are looking at the ingredients that play a role in their products, opting for fewer parabens, fewer sulfates, and more natural ingredients. There is now the same amount of consideration for what a product is made with as the actual function the product performs.

Men: A Return Towards Gentleman’s Care

It’s easy to dismiss a guy’s personal care regiment as some no-fuss, 2-in-1 solution. White it’s true that the vast majority of guys use the grooming basics — shampoo (79%),2 soap (80%),3 and shaving (94%),4 — it’s also true that more than 22% of all men have a daily skin care routine, an area that’s experienced 7% growth in the last year.5

For today’s man, personal care is about embracing one’s unique style and adding a level of sophistication to the day to day. Artisanal barbershop are a common Main Street sighting, and the use of moisturizer and under-eye cream are no longer signs that a man is ‘high maintenance.’

Brands are recognizing this shift towards gentlemanliness and offering up products necessary for maintaining appearance, no matter what choices he makes (there are just as many products available for clean-shaven guys are there are to keep a beard properly maintained). Men represent a new frontier in personal care as a bloc that has largely been untapped, but showing promise among younger age groups.

Young Adults: A Social Responsibility

For teenagers and younger adults, personal care is about more than the functional. We hear a lot of talk about the apathy that younger generations have, but in reality they are more focused on the impact of personal care on society, the environment, and our psyche than any other group. They want to know what’s in their products, how they are tested, and where the ingredients were sourced.

There is also a large shift in younger attitudes towards what it means to be beautiful. Beauty is no longer a single unattainable image, but rather a celebration of sizes, skin tones, and social statuses. Beauty transcends the physical and into the social lives of individuals who celebrate what sets us apart.

That being said, young adults are still the most digitally-connected group, and are heavily influenced by what they see on their social feeds. At times this can present conflicts, where the most “in” product doesn’t align with their environmental concerns or goes against their anti-establishment groove.

Seniors: A New Frontier for Brand Use, Discovery, and Purchasing

Older generations are experiencing a shift in their own perceptions of personal care in that it’s not necessarily taboo to get old (but rather a badge of honor). Preconceived notions about what it means to be old are being challenged by the very group they represent.

Baby Boomers have a desire to break out of past behavior and explore new lifestyles (which can affect the products they choose to support those lifestyles). While traditional concerns like wrinkles and dry skin are still top-of-mind, they aren’t the only drivers for consumer choice. Brands today are focusing on celebrating age as opposed to merely avoiding it.

In addition, a lot has changed in regards to how seniors buy products. The Internet has influenced every demographic and market, but consumer goods companies have found older adults as a group that has bucked the trend of normal adaptation.

Older generations are less likely to buy online (although with 40% of those aged 65 and over buying online, it’s the highest this group has ever seen).6 Concurrently, when they research products, they are more likely to use traditional online means (more Google, less Instagram) and are increasing their online purchases as they become more tech savvy.

Kids: Safe and Soothing Care

While you’re not likely to get much of an answer from the source directly, today’s parents know what they want (or want to avoid) in their child’s personal care products. Following a string of lawsuits, education on digestion, and even social awareness around the environment, it’s clear that parents are making more active decisions about the products they use on their kids.

What changes the most are the ingredients to avoid. Some of the more known entities — parabens, sulfates, animal-based products — are becoming default no-nos. Others, such as vegan, no-soy, reef-safe, and cruelty-free, are typically decided on a case-by-case basis according to health and social preferences.

Parents are also looking for soaps, shampoos, and moisturizers to go further than “no more tears,” and provide benefits beyond the bath. Johnson & Johnson’s line of baby washes now include variations with lavender scents for bedtime calming, or special vapors to sooth fussy babies.

Parents are also spending more on these specialized products, adding to a $78 billion-dollar industry that is continuing to grow. Expect companies to continue to push for holistic care products, socially responsible manufacturing practices, and products that protect against harmful elements.

If there’s a single thread that connects all of these groups together, it’s a desire for more a la carté products that address specific needs that are important to every subset. Part of what makes up beauty and personal care’s overall market value is the variety in solutions, formulations, and brands.

The internet will continue to play a key role in our education of ingredients (as well as a main channel for buying products) but it’s going to be the social consensus that drives innovation. As we grow in our knowledge of how personal care is connected to our bodies and our interests, we should expect brands to find a way to connect as well.

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Subscription boxes are redefining the way we approach our self care routines. Across every subset of the beauty and personal care market, companies are using subscription-based distribution to cultivate new audiences, reinforce branding, and increase customer loyalty.

To consumers, these corrugated containers represent the convergence of style, technology, and convenience. Posting a value of nearly $2.6 billion dollars and encompassing more than half of all online shoppers, it also represents the future of e-commerce.

That’s only the start of the appeal. Each box offers marketing potential, product launch opportunities, and a pipeline to some of the most niche, hard-to-reach audiences.

Digital Microtargeting in a Tangible Way

Since we are now able to market with pinpoint accuracy, and manufacturing workflows are becoming more streamlined, servicing a highly targeted niche audience is no longer an impossibility.

Box services for male audiences? Check. Female? Check. Oily skin? No problem. Dry skin? That too. A gluten-free young professional who runs 4-5 days a week? There’s a box service for them.

What’s more — the data cultivated from Facebook, Google, or abandoned shopping carts help define the markets for future subscription services.

This data can also help companies increase profits through up charges and add-ons. Most services are in touch with their customers — through Instagram or email — with a sophisticated workflow of pre-shipment reminders, additional sales opportunities, and increased exposure to new brands.

The Psychology of Subscription Services

For these recurring services, there are two main models in the personal care segment. Curated & Customized services ship you a monthly box of products tailored to match your skin type, fashion sense, or lifestyle.

Replenishment services automatically ship refills on a predetermined schedule or when a smart device is notified or alerts you when you’re running low. Both models offer psychological rewards, either in the form of convenience, or a rise in the level of neurons in the pleasure centers of our brain.

In a 2006 study, ‘Pure Novelty Spurs the Brain,’4 researchers Nico Bunzeck and Emrah Düzel found that the ‘novelty center’ of our brain — the SN/VTA — can be activated by the unexpected. They discovered neurons that were more stimulated when a subject was shown a series of repeated images, but were also shown new images on occasion.

This might help explain the success brands have been having on getting subscribers to join. We are hard-wired to find value in getting a gift, even if it’s a gift we pay for ourselves.

So who’s winning? Several companies have proven to be key players in this segment of mail order commerce.

Harry’s | Dollar Shave Club may have been the company that put one buck razors in the zeitgeist, but Harry’s has built upon that model with a brand of sophisticated masculinity. They believe that self care is more than just a close shave and some tonic. Its about a full line of skin creams, body wash, and styling products that round out a man’s grooming habits.

Birchbox | The leading company in blending fashion and personal care, Birchbox makes the connection between one’s skin cleanser and their clean pair of open-toed shoes. They are selling a personality, and connecting brands with audiences that match them in a meaningful way.

Quip | Quip started with a toothbrush (a sophisticated one) and built their subscription model on keeping customers stocked with toothpaste and replacement heads. They offer the convenience of not needing to think about such a prosaic purchase, and are making tooth brushing more exciting.

Stitch Fix | With a focus on fashion, Stitch Fix offers boxes catered to women, men, and kids. Their profile assessment tools go beyond the fit to ask how much you might be interested in spending on clothes, or how bold you want your selection to be (“bring it on — I’m into trying new brands”). Stylists are assigned to each customer, providing a touch of personal service.

IPSY | As the largest cosmetic subscription service, IPSY seeks to ‘inspire individuals around the world to express their unique beauty.’ Their product offerings run the gamut of skin cleansers to skin creams; concealers to compacts, and is constantly introducing new up and coming indies.

When brands align themselves to a platform that matches their own culture and personality, sales can be impacted in an enormous way. Subscription boxes have experienced more than 890% growth in the last five years,5 a boom in profits is allowing companies to continue improving their user experience, sales touchpoints, and marketing reach.

All of this leads back to the fact that subscription boxes are one of the most effective ways to distribute something that is hot in demand (or would like to be). Predicting product supply and the logistics of distribution become much easier to manage. So much in fact, that some brands are pushing subscription plans over on-demand purchasing.

In the brick-and-mortar retail world, there’s an old theory that when a person tries something on, they’ve often already made the decision to buy it. Another theory states that on-the-fence customers are more likely to buy if they can try it out, and yet another one speculates that new brands are discovered through personal recommendations.

Subscription box services acts on all of these, and includes a truckload of other commercial advantages. Expect these services to continue influencing personal care for the foreseeable future.

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The personal care industry has been affected by modern consumerism like almost no other industry out there. Online retail, social media, and a new generation of customers have so fundamentally reformed the way we connect with brands that many companies have stumbled trying to adapt.

Of course, any brand can experience difficulty navigating new markets, and we often see big names struggling to sync their old workflows to the new. Those who appreciate these dynamics and welcome out-of-the-box thinking are often the ones setting the ground rules moving forward.

Here are some things major brands are watching out for right now in personal care.

The Beauty Care Landscape is Shifting

Established consumer goods companies might have the advantage in infrastructure, but emerging brands are gaining ground in innovation, new ingredients, and the ability to appeal to new audiences. They are proving themselves to be significant disruptors to the status quo by offering new approaches to old ideas.

The overall market is experiencing fluidity, as smaller brands are gobbled up by larger, well-known names. These companies can offer the innovativeness of a start-up with an enterprise workflow. At the same time, cash-flush organizations are investing heavily in their own internal R&D, hoping to incubate the next great start-up.

Consumer Spending is Cultivating Prestige

Luxury beauty products have seen some of the most impressive increases in market share since the economic recovery. U.S. sales in prestige personal care is expected to come close to $4.5 billion in 2019 and with a CAGR of 4.1%, this number will only increase. Skin care alone has posted a strong 6% increase according to beauty industry analyst, The NPD Group.1

Major CPGs are putting an emphasis on prestige largely due to its high profit margin, and the fact that consumers are more likely to remain loyal to their beauty care regiments when higher-end products are involved. These companies also have a huge advantage in the R&D infrastructure they already have in place.

Custom Tailored Product Offerings…

As AI integrates itself into everything we do, consumers are expecting personalized experiences on all levels. This includes the product itself, the marketing used to sell it, and the ordering process required to buy it.

Companies like Proven — a company born out of the Skin Genome Project — offers an algorithmic approach, recommending products based on an in-depth questionnaire. After answering some basic details, Proven pairs a cleanser, SPF moisturizer, and night cream for a quick, out-of-the-box skin care regiment.

…Sent Automatically Every Month

Once a purchase is made, shoppers are offered the convenience of automatic order placements every month. This worry-free approach practically ensures brand loyalty and offers some stability in product supply while offering additional upsells through à la carte add-ons prior to shipping.

The Internet’s most popular toothbrush company, Quip, makes sure that a 90-day supply of toothpaste arrives on your doorstep exactly when you need it. Amazon pushes customers towards renewal purchasing by offering discounts for products designated with ‘Subscribe and Save’ pricing.

These services have the potential to expand audience reach in compelling ways. According to Forbes, 15% of online shoppers have signed up for these types of automated services.2

…In Custom Branded Packaging

To round out these personalized experiences, brands are able to more cost-effectively brand the presentation of their goods when it’s shipped. Printing on demand allows brands to reinforce messaging on and inside the box. In the end, the entire experience of receiving a product in the mail is a case study in brand loyalty and messaging.

These custom designed, custom-tailored packages extend the brand recognition and consistently reinforce why the user purchased the brand in the first place. Stylish graphic design, high-quality construction, and a user-centric approach add a layer of distinction to a product’s reputation.

Embracing the Digital Shelf Space

It’s hard to meet someone who hasn’t integrated Prime’s 2-day shipping into their day-to-day life. With only a few simple taps, that refill bottle of sulfate-free, ultra-moisturizing shampoo is on its way. Amazon is an incredible pipeline to consumers, but companies have to play by their rules.

In trying to balance appropriate inventory, a lot of onus is placed on companies to figure out how they can leverage their in-house packaging operations to fulfill on-demand orders. Walmart, Target, and other big-name retailers are making plays to compete with Amazon, so this will only continue to grow.

Keeping a Product Supply Regiment on Track

Personal Care will of course continue to adapt, then evolve, and adapt some more. As our marketplace becomes more global, more digital, we will see outside forces continuing to shake up the landscape. Brands will continue to jockey for market share and test experimental, new ways to solve yesterday’s problems.

Companies that exceed in reading the tea leaves of personal care understand that in order to execute on strategy, they need a product supply that can adapt to today’s economy.

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A CCM Benchmark study found that 9 out of every 10 conversations about beauty products happen online.1 In fact, more than a third of customers learn about new brands on places like Twitter and Instagram. It’s a notable reference point for an industry that used to rely on a “look, feel, smell” approach.

It also speaks to how much disrupting forces have changed the way the beauty industry operates. Today’s customers are more empowered than they’ve ever been. We are aware of the ingredients we put into our bodies. We are able to trace our ancestry with mail-in kits. We are able to connect with the brands directly and follow their every move.

These agents of change can represent new market opportunities, but present challenges for keeping product supply in check. Consumer goods companies have recognized the need to adjust manufacturing operations to compete in a new world.

For CPGs to maintain existing brands, integrate additional SKUs, and expand market opportunity, they must enforce agility into their operations. Big companies are no longer relying only on internal 24/7 manufacturing workflows. Instead, they are integrating outsourcing models that can adapt and scale as the market dictates.

The Economics of Personal Care

In the 1990’s — when fanny packs were in vogue and the radio was still the podcast of choice, most big-branded personal care lines were manufactured in-house. Each CPG had a network of factories capable of handling mass production of well-known products. Confidence in outsourced manufacturing was positive, but generally used for temporary demand surge or as a way to handle more mature, declining product lines.

During this period and into the next decade, the industry saw a wealth of mergers and acquisitions. Loyalty towards brand name products was high. Then, during the global economic downturn of 2008, things changed.

Higher priced brands plummeted. Consumers switched to private label equivalents. CPGs began consolidating plants to cut costs, accelerating the pace of production through contract manufacturers. Then, as the economy recovered and online retailers surged, contract manufacturers grew again by accommodating large CPGs and the upstarts they acquired.

The Outsourcing Model

One of the most critical needs of any product manufacturer is capacity. The entire slate of capabilities of a plant — manufacturing, filling, packaging, quality assurance — needs to be available when product is in demand. At the same time, it’s costly to keep operations ‘on retainer’ while waiting for the market to fluctuate.

Contract manufacturers are able to provide capacity to CPGs whenever it is needed. They have similar factory setups as their customers and have integrated an array of best practices seen by the world’s biggest brands. They can offer solutions to challenges both large and small.

Through this ability to produce and scale, contract manufacturers like Accupac can help companies stay nimble and respond more quickly to new ideas and formulations.

Contract manufacturers make about 1 out of every 7 personal care and cosmetic products worldwide.2 In 2018 it was a $17.1 billion industry. CMs are poised to help the industry adapt to change, and provide opportunities for new companies to break through.

Here are challenges an outsourced workflow can help with:

The Influencers

Before Y2K, the world’s biggest brands were aligned with Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. Today, skin care is sold through likes, follows, trendability, and online stars like @jamescharles and @Zoella. These social players dominate the conversation around what products to use. Their millions of followers account for a collective audience that is deeply loyal to their opinions.

These customers — millennials among the lion’s share of them — are feeling more connected to the brands they trust. Hashtags have the power to bring change to outdated ingredients, and customer service is as easy as a DM.

CPGs are in turn seeking brands that speak to customers in a more personal way: products that are trendworthy, represent a new generation, and are socially responsible. They need to be able to add SKUs to their product lines without disrupting the existing operations of their other brands.

The Me Generation

We are more in tune with our physiology today than any other point in history. We know more about our heritage, our demographics, and our well being. We can send out for DNA results in a week and research chemical compounds on our phones. So we seek out products that conform to our ethnic, dietary, or social specifications.

These opinions that we form are far reaching. Our connection with social networks makes it easy to voice our opinions, unite behind a cause, and influence the corporate values of the brands we trust.

This often leads to reformulations of existing products. One only has to look back to the removal of parabens, or the boycott on palm oil as examples of how self conscious consumers have affected change. With the scalable workforce CMs have in place, companies are better prepared to test, verify, and deploy updated lines in order to compete for consumer mood.

An Expanding Worldwide Market

Our global economic footprint is changing every day. International brands are breaking through new markets and expanding product supply with regional varieties. The result of all of this is a global personal care product market estimated to be valued at $716.6 billion by 2025.4

Companies know that their products are finding success in new markets and are opening up new channels of distribution. This means more demand for product, but also demand for operations that can handle multinational validation requirements.

Contract manufacturers who have success in helping CPGs adapt to a global distribution model will place emphasis on proper quality control units and chemists who understand governmental regulations around the world. They also employ customer service teams who are adept at spearheading production through the hurdles needed to meet deliverables. They can often reduce headaches down the road by providing solutions to challenges before they affect operations. They can also cut start up costs for establishing product supply in new countries.

The point to all of this outlook is to reinforce the idea that in order to remain relevant, CPGs need a source supply that’s ready to support business change. In-house operations can be slow to adapt, but contract manufacturers have the capacity and knowledge to combat supply chain disruptions.

We might not know what the personal care landscape will look like in five years, and that’s exciting. We do know that the value of personal care will continue to grow and facilitate change from all angles. That’s why brands who integrate hybrid manufacturing workflows today are already preparing for what’s to come tomorrow.

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