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Why You Need Compelling Cosmetic Packaging Design

by Nahla Davies on 12/09/2022 | 5 Minute Read

People who buy cosmetics take care of how they look, often with great attention to detail. These customers expect the same level of detail when it comes to the packaging of their makeup, whether it’s in the container the cosmetic comes in or the display case in which it gets presented.

The cosmetics industry was worth an estimated $49 billion in the US in 2022. While there are a lot of opportunities for profit, there is also a lot of competition. Appealing packaging can set your brand apart from competitors and help build brand recognition. Designing enticing, beautiful packaging for your cosmetics brand, a specific line in your brand, or a new seasonal item can give you a crucial competitive edge.

Obviously, all packaging needs to protect the product contained within. But packaging is so much more than keeping everything secure and snug inside. Here are some of the reasons why your cosmetic packaging needs to look its best so it can lure consumers in.

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It’s All About That Aesthetic

Eye-popping packaging draws attention. A luxurious look that makes the customer sense they are engaged in an all-too-important act of self-care will help elevate your packaging above the rest. However, you must understand your customer demographic to know what kind of attention you are looking to attract. 

Unique designs can differentiate your brand. Packaging that's geared toward your customers allows you to build your brand’s reputation and base. For example, reality TV star Kylie Jenner is raking in plenty of cash with her cosmetics line—but many of her products focus heavily on gorgeous packaging with a new look with each collection. 

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The recent Batman collection uses retro, classic imagery from the comic’s archives for the packaging. Another collaboration with her mother, Kris Jenner, contains packaging with olives and martinis heavily highlighted throughout (and a humorous reference to her mom's favorite drink). Jenner’s cosmetic packaging reflects the idea and marketing behind each product, creating a new aesthetic with every launch.

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Functionality is Critical

Not every consumer is attracted by eye-catching, new packaging, however. Tying your product into its broader placement allows people to see what it helps them achieve rather than what it literally is. It helps tell the story of the overall vision and purpose of the product. Packaging that ties the product into its broader purpose helps remind consumers why they want to purchase it in the first place. 

Consumers don't buy foundation, for example, just to put it on their faces. They are going after a particular image—such as the one embodied by the brand—or helping correct issues such as redness, dryness, or oiliness. Focusing on your customer's needs, desires, and pain points rather than the product itself is crucial when creating the perfect product packaging design.

The cosmetics industry is more competitive than ever because brands realize that quality and results are more important than anything else concerning their products. The rise of online reviews and tutorials about makeup means that cosmetics companies can't rely solely on attractive packaging to drive sales. Packaging has evolved to encompass this element of the beauty industry as well. 

Mascara brands will frequently show a before and after photo of lashes to show the consumer how the mascara looks once applied. Beauty entrepreneur Lily Ghalichi, for example, utilizes a photo of her bare lashes and another photo of her lashes with her Lily Lashes mascara directly on the packaging of her products. The packaging carefully notes that these are entirely unedited photos, showing the importance of results when purchasing beauty products. 

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Building Brand Awareness

Ideally, your cosmetic company’s packaging should help build your brand. Logos are the foundation of brand recognition and must be consistent with your packaging. Building brand awareness helps improve sales and increases customer retention. 

Don’t be afraid to tinker with your logo within your packaging designs, but be careful not to make your logo unrecognizable. Kylie Cosmetics is one of the most well-known cosmetics brands, but its logo and packaging have changed slightly with different product launches. Bold and bright colors can draw attention to certain aspects of your product or brand logo while maintaining brand recognition. Kylie Cosmetics once altered their usual white gloss dripping from heavily painted lips to a black matte color to celebrate a new shade called Black of Knight. The logo is still recognizable but slightly customized for the new product. 

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Packaging is Storytelling

The right piece of packaging can tell a story to your customers about what your product offers. Highlighting the brand story or ethos that makes your product stand out is especially important for new brands—but also established brands debuting a new product or line.

Chinese makeup company Florasis grew to $47 million in 3 years after its 2017 launch, and the company founders partially owe their success to their eye-popping packaging. Local traditions dominate the design and tie into the recent increase in Chinese youth’s interest in their cultural heritage, known as “Guochao” (literally “national tide”).

The products incorporate engraving within their makeup palettes, carving out intricate shapes within the product itself. Palettes also come designed to open up like fold-out fans. Some offerings find inspiration in poems, novels, and artwork by Chinese artists, such as the Odey makeup palette, designed around the famous Chinese poem “Ode to the Goddess of the Luo River” by Cao Zhi in the Three Kingdoms Period. 

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Easy to Transport

Of course, makeup packaging should be easy to transport—for both the distributors and the customers. Great makeup packaging enables safe transportation, whether it's from the factory, a customer’s luggage, or the daily commute to work.

Products should be safe to throw in a bag or backpack without concerns that they will leak or explode, and your packaging should fit your customer’s busy lifestyles. 

Ulta, a popular makeup store, has an entire section dedicated to travel-size cosmetics. That makes perfect sense, as it’s common for women to want a spare mascara or lipstick in their office or purses for an occasional touch-up. Eyeshadow palettes that are compact and stacked on top of one another—the packaging found in the Kaja makeup line—are growing in popularity because of their sheer convenience. 

It’s essential to have aesthetically pleasing packaging that's brand-boosting and functional, especially for cosmetics brands. Packaging serves many purposes—to excite, entice, protect, and enhance your brand’s image and to communicate product details. A balance between all of these purposes is necessary for product packaging.