Indie skin care product brand JUNOCO recently launched a unique and innovative system for more sustainable packaging with its proprietary interchangeable pod system. Most current refillable cosmetic and beauty product packaging options are designed to fit proprietary product options and have mitigated a reduction in carbon footprint due to the need for a container for each product type.
Instead, with JUNOCO’s new system, “users will be able to use one singular, reusable container that can house a multitude of products as they are offered in interchangeable pods,” explained Kyle Jiang, JUNOCO Founder and CEO.
To learn more about the conceptualization, R&D, and launch process behind the new system, as well as how challenges to launch were resolved and how consumer demand for the new system was determined, we interviewed Jiang for his insights.
CDU: How did JUNOCO approach conceptualizing the refillable pod system design?
Kyle Jiang (KJ): To reduce waste and encourage repeat purchases, many beauty brands have accelerated their options for refillable products due to this generation's concern for seeking out more sustainable options. However, the current refill products the market has to offer are not resonating as well with customers due to several factors.
JUNOCO was founded to create innovative formulations while reducing their carbon footprint throughout the process. Finding refillable options with high usage rates is extremely challenging due to these key blockers: hygiene, durability, and good user experience. However, we always want to test all innovations that can help us become a zero-waste brand and believe refills, if executed correctly, can positively impact the beauty industry.
CDU: How did the JUNOCO team approach the system’s research and development process?
KJ: Typically, refills are offered per individual product to be able to fit into the container it was bought for. Therefore, you would have a refill for a face wash container and another for a face cream container. This solution only moderately lessens the issue of packaging waste.
JUNOCO offers a unique and innovative solution in terms of performance and sustainability by creating an interchangeable refill pod system. With this system, users can use one singular, reusable container that can house many products as they are offered in interchangeable pods.
The packaging development took two years, during which time we researched and collaborated with several manufacturers to develop an interchangeable refill pod system that can overcome the key blockers to the success and adoption of refills.
The aesthetic inspiration for the look of the jar was jade, which is why the new cleansing balm is called Jade 10 Cleansing Balm. The surface texture was carefully crafted to emulate the look of and feel of smooth and polished jade, enhancing both the visual and tactile aspects of the product.
CDU: Can you explain the launch process for the interchangeable pod refill system?
KJ: With the launch process, the top priority was to transition the old packaging to this new system by educating users on the sustainable benefits of using interchangeable refills, along with addressing some concerns they may have had in the past with competitor’s refill systems, such as hygiene, formula quality, and convenience. By addressing all these concerns, along with making the system cost-effective for users, the goal is to have our users adopt more sustainable habits and continue to reuse the interchangeable pod system.
On November 1, 2023, we officially launched the JUNOCO refill pod system on JUNOCO.com with the Jade Clean 10 Cleansing Balm and 0 Mark Body Butter.
CDU: Were there any system development challenges that needed to be resolved before launch? If so, what were those challenges, and what solutions were developed and implemented to solve them?
KJ: The biggest challenge was creating a solution that can make the pods convenient for users to refill and maintain hygiene. After testing 50+ prototypes on different lock/unlock mechanisms and materials, the final design features a durable yet user friendly lock/unlock mechanism.
Because the system must avoid hygiene issues, this lock and unlock mechanism allows users to use and remove the pod securely without contaminating the jar. The refill pods also come with label identification that can be placed on the reusable container. The container is also composed of a highly resilient material specifically engineered to endure extensive use as a reusable unit.
CDU: How is consumer demand for a device like the JUNOCO system measured and evaluated?
KJ: We used our consumers to gauge the demand for this new refill system. Initially, it began as a stream of emails and Instagram comments requesting a refillable option for one of our best-selling products, Clean 10 Cleansing Balm because this product had a high repurchase rate.
Once we established that refills were in high demand, we considered user convenience and experience. We conducted several questionnaires and polls of our consumers' experience using our competitors' refills. After we finalized a list of what the consumers wanted and did not want, we began designing the interchangeable refill pod system.
CDU: How is the JUNOCO system different from other refillable cosmetics or personal care product options?
KJ: Some consumers avoid refillable products because they don’t like the commitment of being limited to refilling that specific product. We took a different approach by providing customers with more options when it comes to refilling.
By making these product pods interchangeable, consumers are using only one container, allowing for a more personalized experience as they can refill the products they use most frequently based on their skin care needs.
CDU: Are there plans for further innovation and development in this space?
KJ: We will continue to launch more refillable pods compatible with the current container. In the coming six months, we will launch a body scrub, foot and hand mask, and four other products using the same refill jar and system. Another refillable solution we are working on now is our second best-selling product, the Clarifying Cleansing Powder. We are very excited for this unique powder refill jar as well.
CDU: Anything else to add?
KJ: Our mission is to lead change toward a more earth-conscious future in beauty while considering our community’s user experience. Sustainability will always be at the forefront for JUNOCO, from ingredient sourcing to minimal formulation practices and our approach to packaging. We aim to minimize as much waste as possible in every development process step.
We have always used FSC-certified paper and eco-friendly soy ink printing for packaging, and we are excited about the Refill Pod system. The refill pods are fully recyclable, and each refill saves 78% of the plastic used in a complete original set.