Thursday, November 30, 2006

Credibility Lost?

Who is Matti Remes and why is he saying American packaging design and advertising has no credibility with consumers? Remes, who is with Finnish design consultancy Remes & Packart, wrote a column in the Autumn 2006 issue of M-real magazine, put out by M-real Corporation, a paper company located in Finland, in which he stated “In terms of brand construction, packaging is a gem that needs to be treated with respect and subtlety.” In fact, he said a number of interesting things about the role of packaging in the success of a brand, including “In the future, packaging design will be an important strategic tool for product development and corporate management.” So far, so good. But then he followed up his comment on ‘respect and subtlety’ with “We must remember that European consumers believe everything they read and see on packaging. In the USA, on the other hand, the credibility of advertising and packaging design was lost a long time ago, because marketing does not always tell the truth there.” Wow! I see big problems in both statements for consumers and brand owners alike, whether his notions are perceived or real. I welcome your thoughts.

Friday, November 17, 2006

It's Private

The Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) held its annual trade show in Chicago this week against the backdrop of a new report the group says confirms that consumer affection for private label products in U.S. supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers is greater than ever. PLMA president Brian Sharoff presented the findings at the trade show. According to the survey, 41% of shoppers now say they are "frequent" buyers of store brands, up from 36% five years ago. Seven in ten surveyed said private label products they buy are as good, if not better, than their national brand counterparts, called a significant increase over five years ago. More about PLMA is available at For a copy of the report, Star Power: The Growing Influence of Store Brands in the U.S., contact the organization.

At the show, the trend twins, natural and organic, were keeping a high profile on both the food and nonfood sides of the hall. At the PLMA Idea Supermarket, several private label beauty brands were on display including Sephora's (France) Brown & White line, Ritual's (Netherlands) Hammam line and Uniprix (Canada) Elegant color cosmetics. What does it all mean to the ever-changing beauty industry competitive scene? Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Smart and Sustainable?

I am off today to Boston to participate in the Packaging and Converting Executive Forum (PACE) for the cosmetic and personal care industry. I'm on a panel that will talk about smart packaging and I look forward to telling you all about it. I'm also moderating a panel that asks the interesting question "Distinctive, cost effective and environmentally friendly -- Can a product really be all three or once again will one of these be sacrificed in order to make a product succeed?" Do you think the time is right for smart packaging initiatives in the beauty industry? Can smart packaging help set your brand apart? Check back for my updates from Boston!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Wrinkle Power?

As fine fragrance struggles, can luxury skin care be the new focus of prestige packaging? I was thrilled to be asked to participate on the annual Marc Rosen panel at LuxePack last week, replacing a speaker whose plans changed at the last minute. The panel, called “Turning Back Time – Packaging the Promise,” included Peter Lichtenthal of MAC Cosmetics, Pamela Vaile of Pamela Vaile Associates and Gus Bezas of Milbar Labs. Marc led a wide-ranging discussion of current market trends for skin care, antiaging concepts, antiaging function in color cosmetics and packaging for luxury skin care. Of course, the questions surrounding antiaging skin care concern much more than packaging. The siren call of antiaging skin care is reaching a younger audience all the time. Can the products currently on the market benefit twenty- and thirty-something skin? Or will we see a return to simple moisturizers? The aged, wrinkles and all, were once revered for their knowledge and experience. Can there be a campaign for real aging? Is there a market for products that accentuate -- no, glorify -- wrinkles?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Camo and Karaoke

Iconic fashion designer Jean Charles de Castelbajac was a featured speaker last week at LuxePack in Monaco. The designer, who carries chalk to draw angels and other signs on walls and surfaces, talked about his design inspiration and his desire to go back to meaning, taste, and feelings in his work, along with the sense of something handmade. He loves camouflage for its notion of surrealism and likens the current cultural “sameness” to karaoke, urging packaging designers to move away from it saying “packaging can have power, real power.” He said a designer’s role is to “re-enliven the imagination,” words that are clearly true for designers of packaging and the greatest take-away from his presentation. How can beauty packaging enliven consumer imagination? How do we give our packaging power? Sharing your thoughts on this post is as easy as clicking on the little envelope below.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Inspiration in LA

I had the pleasure of attending a meeting of Beauty Industry West a couple of weeks ago in Los Angeles. The featured speaker was none other than Annette Green, president emeritus of the Fragrance Foundation, who was on the west coast for the opening of the Annette Green Perfume Museum at Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), in Los Angeles. She shared some of her immense knowledge of the fragrance industry and offered a little direction for the future. She said there is no longer a one-size-fits-all fragrance market in the U.S., citing the growing population, 70 million baby boomers and more unmarried people than married. She also said there is a tremendous search for talent underway in the industry and that is why schools like FIDM are so important. What kind of talent is your firm seeking and where do you look for it? What else could the beauty industry be doing to ensure a continuous and passionate pool of candidates to be the future of the industry?