This year was no different, despite the doom and gloom in Europe. The sense of depression is palpable, but that did not stop some 140 000 visitors and over 2 200 exhibitors from making their way to and through a huge 91 000m2 of exhibition halls. The visitor and exhibitor numbers were down, as one would expect, and the chit-chat around the show was mostly glum: ‘the taps have turned off in Europe’, ‘sales are down more than a quarter’, ‘the market has shrunk extraordinarily’ and the like.
But I didn’t go to Cosmoprof to get swallowed up in melancholy, and I can even assert I came away from the 42nd expo more inspired than I have felt in years because the upside of this nasty recession is the fact that it is birthing some fantastic and ingenious innovation. And that’s exactly what most of us who flock to trade shows are seeking. Some of it is ground-breaking, but mostly it’s little things that just happen to make a big difference.
Small is beautiful
eau de toilette bottle is now 50ml; the 50ml perfume bottle is now 30ml; the 500ml body lotion container is now 300ml, and the two-litre laundry softener jug has shrunk to one litre.
Small, too, is a fine way of encouraging testing and trial of new products or variants: in today’s parsimonious times, consumers can’t afford to make a purchasing mistake. So let them try it out at small risk.
Just be different!
More than ever, marketers have to catch shoppers’ eyes. I loved this clever piece of innovation – a one-piece cap in two colours. Yes, it can be done and without too much expense or at least that which could be easily amortised over a standard production run. And another simple but very effective idea is to use the same bottle within a range of products, but just turn it on its head and change the plane of the label to highlight variant ID. Different, the same and complementary all at once.
Sleeving ups its presence
The decorative possibilities of sleeves have been grabbed by food and beverage marketers for years now, but have not been notable in the beauty/ personal care arenas. This would appear to be changing and there were some beautiful samples to see at Cosmoprof.
Make it green
While unfortunately still low on the priority list in South Africa, the question of recyclability of containers is a huge concern in Europe. The clarion call is to make it lighter, make it greener and facilitate its easy recycling, as evidenced in this sample of suncare products where all components – container, dispenser and cap – are made of the same polymer. This is surely the future in packaging the world over.
There’s also much talk in marketing of ‘masstige’, meaning downward brand extension, luxury for the masses or premium but attainable. This is driving demand for airless dispensers, sophisticated technology previously only seen in very high-end products and suppliers are introducing more affordable airless dispensers.
Lumson, a RAP International principal, finally unveiled its much-hyped TAG (Techno Airless Glass) airless dispenser at Cosmoprof, and it seems the hoopla is justified. TAG is the industry’s first glass airless package. By looking at the package, it’s hard to tell that the glass bottle actually houses an airtight plastic pouch. The pouch is permanently attached to the dispensing pump. Not only does this package retain the luxurious look of an airless package, it’s also eco-friendly. Customers can unscrew the pump and remove it, together with the bag, from the bottle. The glass bottle can then either be refilled with another pouch full of product or be recycled.
Another principal of ours, Emsar, the world’s biggest producer of pumps, unveiled several great new concepts: Elegance: a very low, very elegant new pump, it has a small stack height of just 11mm – ie you can’t see the pump at all! This gives designers more flexibility to create novel package designs, particularly for fragrances. EcoSqueeze Foamer: an inspired new way to foam, turning liquid into rich foam by simply squeezing the bottle. This draws product from the container and mixes it with air at the point of dispensing to enable it to foam without conventional aerosol technology. Foamed product is perceived to feel better when applied and spreads more easily over the skin.
All plastic: These low-cost pumps which come in ten different colours just snap onto a bottle or container and do away with any aluminium crimping. This translates to reduced labour and production costs – essentially a way to get product to shelf at a better price. In wrapping up, although the global economy may be seriously down, Cosmoprof affirmed that the slump has not dampened the creativity of packaging suppliers. Dropping sales volumes have prompted European and other suppliers to act smarter, to rely on research and design ability to invent ever-more technologically-evolved concepts, and ones that can’t be knocked off in easy fashion in the East.
It’s all about resilience; facing the crisis with positivity, with new strategies and a stream of impressive innovation. One can use the analogy of a veld fire – after the inferno, the earth brings forth amazing beauty and life amid the ashes.