Cosmetic Feature: Beautifying Cosmetic Cartons
Decorative finishes are making cosmetic cartons look—and feel—better than ever.By Jennifer Kwok, Associate Editor
Cosmetic companies understand that their secondary cartons must be as striking, if not more so, than their primary packages. The first impressions that secondary packages make are critical. Consequently, "the cosmetics industry challenges [carton suppliers] more than any other [suppliers] because of the importance secondary packaging plays in the marketing effort," says Benoît Bourguignon, vice president of marketing and market development for Wilco (Candiac, QC, Canada).
To meet the demand, suppliers are regularly developing new technologies and textures to enhance carton substrates. The suppliers discussed in this story are among those who offer decorative finishes that can make secondary cartons extraordinary
While paperboard remains a commonly used substrate for cosmetic cartons, the textures adorning it look anything but typical. Such finishes can be used to promote a brand's image or simply to grab a customer's attention.
The black suede-like flock applied to the cartons for the FUBU Plush fragrance products tangibly reinforces the luxurious image that the fragrance's name suggests. "The material provides a soft-touch feel, which clearly fits the 'plush' concept," says Ted Rhodes, vice president of sales for Gold Pride Press (Rochester, NY), which supplied the cartons for Plush.
Adding such a specialty texture to a carton can be complicated. For the Plush cartons, "[choosing] the fiber type posed the biggest challenge," says Rhodes. "Some fiber types were easier to work with [as opposed to others that may have had certain] aesthetic qualities our customer was looking for." The fiber chosen for the Plush cartons provided a balance between attractiveness and performance.
A similar velvety finish is supplied by Ivy Hill Corp./Warner Media Services (New York City). Foil laminate and linen-type finishes are also offered, says Seth Meyer, account executive for Ivy Hill.
The popularity of such textured finishes has made them regular offerings of some suppliers. Arkay Packaging Corp. (New York City), for example, provides a hard, reticulated coating that is similar to nail lacquer or plastic. "The coating can be applied to paperboard substrates as well as to foil and Mylar," says Mitchell Kaneff, president and CEO of Arkay Packaging.
Another supplier, Innovative Folding Carton Co. (South Plainfield, NJ), an Impaxx company, offers a pearlescent, homogenized coating in a smooth or a grainy consistency, depending on the particle size incorporated in the coating. Small granules amount to an iridescent finish while larger grains result in a coarse texture. "With a heavy enough coating, you obtain a sparkly, stippled effect," says Ronnie Crisaufulli, operations manager for Innovative Folding Carton. The coating is available in colors including blue, green, pink, and yellow. "It can add a high-end look to cosmetic cartons," says Shawn Smith, vice president of sales for Innovative Folding Carton.
IBC/Shell Packaging (Lake Success, NY) has designed its RubberTek, Supreme Silk, and Hot Weave finishes for a range of carton substrates, including sulfate board and such plastics as styrene and PVC. RubberTek, a matte, rubber-like texture, can make a carton look high-tech; Supreme Silk simulates the look and feel of silk; and Hot Weave imitates tweed. Suited for cartons and setup boxes, the finishes can be applied to board stock, lamination, and wrapping. Color-matched and standard colors, and embossing, hot-stamping, and screening are options. In addition, IBC/Shell offers Metalika, a dense, microembossed finish that is designed to appear like metal. Metalika can also be laser-cut to create a three-dimensional effect.
"[Manufacturers] can create a unique-looking package by customizing these surfaces to their brand image," says Norman Kay, president of IBC/Shell Packaging. For instance, Givenchy used camel and gray Supreme Silk on a Michael Kors carton to "convey tactilely and visually the rich spirit of the brand," says Kay. The gift cartons that house products for Ralph Lauren's Glamourous fragrances feature IBC/Shell Packaging's Matte Lite finish, which is a less heavily embossed version of the Metalika finish. The metallic gold decor conveys the fragrance's precious image.
The range of finishes available today are evidence that suppliers understand manufacturers' needs for fresh ways to adorn their cartons. "IBC/Shell recognizes the need for a continuous flow of new, exciting materials," says Kay. "Textured finishes, when [effectively] executed and coordinated, can powerfully amplify a product and brand."
Carton wrappings that feature lenticular, holographic, and iridescent graphics are highly noticeable on the shelf. The special effects these decorations produce can mesmerize customers.
Lenticular folding cartons whose panels can be decorated with three-dimensional and animated effects including depth, morphing, motion, zoom, and flip are one such option. "Lenticular graphics have a 'stop customers in their tracks' quality that's important when consumers are faced with so many buying choices," says Duncan G. Watson, vice president of creative services and marketing for Shorewood Packaging Corp. (New York City).
The Extreme Packaging cartons from Shorewood Packaging are created using the company's Extreme Vision lithographic lenticular technology. By combining a digitally interlaced image with a ribbed plastic lens, the supplier creates lenticular images on a plastic panel from a manufacturer's photographic and digital graphics. "We apply the lenticular panel as if it were a window film," says Watson. "The rigidity of the plastic allows us to form it around the carton scores."
Although special effects like lenticular images are at the high end of the price range for decorating techniques, their powerful impact on customers is worth it, says Watson. "Since the technology effectively increases the graphic [value] of a carton, you really get a lot for your money," he says.
Embossed holography is another special effect that is well suited for carton decoration. "Microscopic embossing allows for a finish that can control and organize reflected light for a shimmery, glittery effect that appears different than a simple mirror," says Joseph Formosa, technical manager for Proma Technologies Inc. (Franklin, MA), which supplies its proprietary HoloPRISM holographic paper. HoloPRISM paper can be directly laminated to paperboard folding cartons or can be applied as a label on setup boxes.
Elizabeth Arden chose HoloPRISM for its White Diamonds, Red Door, Sunflowers, and 5th Avenue setup boxes. The White Diamonds box features a holographic diamond pattern on a sparkling blue background, while the Red Door, Sunflowers, and 5th Avenue cartons have a crushed denim pattern whose appearance shifts from matte to sparkly, depending on the angle at which it is viewed. The packages received marketing awards in the 2001 and 2002 Association of Industrial Metallizers, Coaters, and Laminators Metallized or Vacuum-Coated product competitions.
Manufacturers can achieve a variety of looks using HoloPRISM paper. "With proper print treatments, the paper has been [designed to be] bold, colorful, and playful, and at other times, subtle and sophisticated. Designers can match our wide range of holographic patterns with their prints for the best possible shelf appearance for their product," says Formosa.
Iridescent films can also make cartons distinctive. For instance, the solid-bleached-sulfate cartons for a Davidoff Cool Water holiday gift set were wrapped with colored paper that was laminated with a supplier's Aurora film and finished with an acrylic topcoat. For the Cool Water Woman carton, light-blue paper was laminated with red-green Aurora film, while blue-green film was used to laminate the blue paper for the men's design.
The film, supplied by Engelhard Corp. (Iselin, NJ), comprises 113 polymer microlayers that reflect and transmit color as light shines through the film, giving cartons a lustrous appearance. The film is adhesive-laminated to paper and plastic, which can then be converted into cartons, gift boxes, bags, and labels. In addition to the transparent film used on the Davidoff cartons, Engelhard offers Aurora GemTallic film in shimmery, iridescent colors reminiscent of precious gemstones and metals, and Aurora Black Magic film, which features a black tint that is added to colored film for a smoky, sophisticated look.
In addition to developing new finishes, suppliers are constantly refining their standard decorating techniques for cartons.
For instance, though frosting is a standard look for polypropylene cartons, the increasing range of frosted colors is expanding design options. Envision Packaging (Tucson, AZ), a div. of Jeffco Inc., offers frosted finishes in a growing range of colors including blue, green, natural, pink, and purple. "The translucent colors still give that see-through look," says Sharon Smith, operations manager for Envision Packaging.
Classified Cosmetics (Malibu, CA) chose a clear frosted polypropylene carton supplied by Envision Packaging for the August launch of its ERA Face spray-on foundation in Japan. The clear frosting provided the feminine, high-end look that Classified Cosmetics sought, as opposed to a dark, masculine color, says Dan Porter, the manufacturer's chief operating officer. In addition, "the frosting gives the package a mysterious quality, since the aluminum can within isn't clearly visible," says Porter.
Some suppliers are developing alternative, cost-effective decorating techniques for their clients. "[Manufacturers] do not have to pay top dollar [in order to have a carton that has] valuable shelf impact," says Wilco's Bourguignon. For instance, when a manufacturer's production budget prevented the use of a foil-board carton, Wilco devised a substitute solution. "Foil, which can easily double the price of a board if it is used to cover the entire surface, was cost-prohibitive for our client," says Bourguignon. By combining a water-based glossy varnish with a UV matte varnish, Wilco was able to create a comparable high-end looking carton.
Carton substrates are also being refined to better accommodate a range of decoration. MeadWestvaco Corp.'s (Stamford, CT) Crescendo paperboard is a smooth, solid-bleached sulfate that is designed for maximum ink absorption, color vibrancy, and fade resistance for printed graphics. "The cosmetics industry generally looks for very dense colors and very bright metallic inks," says Bourguignon.
Crescendo is compatible with aqueous, glossy, iridescent, matte, and pearlescent coating, and such decorating processes as debossing, embossing, foil-stamping, and film and foil lamination.
With the range of decorating techniques suppliers offer, cosmetic manufacturers have more options than ever for distinctive carton designs. Decorative finishes can add more than aesthetic value to cartons. An attention-grabbing secondary carton can entice a customer to pick a package up, and ultimately, to buy.