Packaging – sustainable in luxury

Luxury beauty brands are moving towards sustainability, adopting eco-friendly packaging solutions including reusable packaging, lightweighting, recyclable/recycled materials and products certified by organisations like the FSC. But are customers more concerned about the look rather than the eco-friendliness of packaging?

Both Aveda (below right) and DKNY (above) have made concerted efforts to reduce their environmental footprints and make their packaging more eco-friendly


Prestige brands and their customers are often more concerned about the look rather than the eco-friendliness of packaging. But some luxury brands have begun the move to sustainability, as MJ Deschamps reports

While producing cosmetics products in paperboard cartons or thin glass jars may be good for the environment, marketing to an industry centred around image, especially when it comes to luxury products and brands, means that consumers are often more concerned with a product’s look rather than its eco-friendliness.

“The [luxury] cosmetics consumer is not so different from the consumer in the other packaged goods arenas where she would like to be able to buy recyclable and biodegradable but she also wants that fabulous package. The beauty industry is hugely image driven,” says Karen Young, ceo of The Young Group, a US based global marketing company which specialises in beauty marketing.

“I think that’s very much part of the challenge as a responsible packaging vendor to the industry: how do I provide luxury companies with packaging that looks as though it is contributing to the enormous suggested retail price of the product, yet has some environmental responsibilities?”

With this, Young says that in her experience sustainability in packaging is not something that the prestige beauty industry is really addressing. A lot of luxury packaging, she says, includes metallised plastic, metallised glass, heavy wall packaging and many other kinds of materials that are extremely difficult to recycle. These “make the product look expensive but have nothing to do with being environmentally appropriate,” she notes. The entire basis of luxury packaging, she adds, is very much centred around multi-material packaging which contributes to the feeling of ‘luxury’.

Paul Crawford, head of regulatory and environmental services at the UK’s Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA), agrees that when it comes to luxury cosmetics customers’ expectations are quite different compared to the general market, with packaging seen as an important part of the product. “The packaging is an integral part of the design of the product, the marketing, image, promotion and the way it is sold. It all fits together in a holistic way and the packaging must represent what the product and brand mean,” he says.


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