From the experts: 2024 beauty packaging trends include minimalism, sustainability, and 'sophisticated simplicity'

By Cassandra Stern

- Last updated on GMT

"Hyper-personalization of products is on the rise: brands are continuing to introduce products tailored to individual customers, allowing them to share background information that the brand then utilizes to produce products customized to its users’ needs," said Brian Techter, President of Packaging at RRD. © forest_strider Getty Images
"Hyper-personalization of products is on the rise: brands are continuing to introduce products tailored to individual customers, allowing them to share background information that the brand then utilizes to produce products customized to its users’ needs," said Brian Techter, President of Packaging at RRD. © forest_strider Getty Images

Related tags Packaging trends Sustainable packaging Personalization

In this exclusive CosmeticsDesign Q&A, Brian Techter, President of Packaging at RRD, discusses the latest packaging trends and innovations shaping the cosmetics and personal care industry in 2024, offering valuable insights for B2B manufacturing and supply companies.

The cosmetic and personal care product packaging industry is experiencing significant transformations driven by emerging trends and consumer demands in 2024. To delve deeper into these developments, CosmeticsDesign interviewed Brian Techter, President of Packaging at RRD, a company that provides end-to-end packaging solutions for beauty brands.

In this Q&A, Techter shares insights on the latest aesthetic preferences such as "quiet luxury" and "sophisticated simplicity," the rising importance of sustainability with trends like reusability and refillability, and the impact of e-commerce on packaging design. Additionally, he provides insights into how beauty brands achieve a premium feel through packaging design, address consumer demographics, and integrate technology and digital innovations into their packaging solutions.

CDU: As an end-to-end provider for brands in the beauty, cosmetics, and personal care sectors, what are some of the key packaging trends you've observed recently? 

Brian Techter (BT)​: From a design standpoint, “quiet luxury,” “clean,” and “sophisticated simplicity” aesthetics are trends we have seen on the rise in 2023 and 2024. Brands are embracing minimalist packaging through clean lines, understated colors, and tasteful graphics, which tends to convey a luxurious image that customers continue to seek out. 

CDU: Sustainability is becoming increasingly important across industries. How are you seeing this trend manifest in the packaging solutions your company provides for beauty brands? 

BT​: According to Mintel’s 2024 Global Beauty and Personal Care Trends Report, consumers (particularly Gen Z and Millennials) are seeking out personal care products that align with their values and goals regarding wellness and sustainability and we’re seeing this play out as brands communicate through packaging. 

We’re seeing an increasing number of brands and retailers explore reusability, refillability, and recyclability. One example is Sephora – as a complement to its current recycling program, the beauty retailer announced the expansion of its refillable beauty products program earlier this year.

Refillable packaging often requires more durable labels to withstand longer periods of repeated use. Durable labels are designed to last in order to prevent premature fading or peeling which is not just visually un-appealing but potential safety concern if consumers can no longer read ingredient lists or instructions. 

CDU: Many beauty brands aim to convey a sense of luxury and sophistication through their packaging. How does your company assist brands in achieving this premium feel in their product packaging? 

BT​: To achieve a luxury aesthetic, our experts work closely with brands to calibrate exactly which materials, inks, foil or emboss and other treatments convey the high-quality, sleek, or luxurious look and feel they are trying to achieve.

If, for example, a product’s packaging feels flimsy or inexpensive, it can diminish the customer experience. A well-executed packaging aesthetic not only supports brand loyalty, but it can become iconic – something that resonates with generation after generation of customers. 

CDU: With the growing dominance of e-commerce, how does your company ensure that beauty products are not only packaged safely but also make a strong visual impact upon arrival to the consumer? 

BT​: What used to be an industry limited to physical stores has now expanded tenfold virtually – retailers such as Sephora and Ulta serve as one-stop source for beauty and personal care products, and smaller, more niche brands may only have an eCommerce presence. It is now even more critical for brands to stand out on the virtual shelves as customers scroll the multitude of options a company offers. For these reasons, the packaging and labels for these products are crucial elements in making products stand out on the virtual and physical shelves. 

However, when it comes to beauty packaging, product safety is just as important as how the packaging looks. Protective packaging helps maintain the product’s quality, safety, and usability during shipping, storage, and handling.

By ensuring products are securely packaged, the chance of returns from damaged products is also minimized, improving customer satisfaction. The beauty and cosmetic industry relies heavily on brand reputation. Packaging that is well-designed and high-quality can help consumers trust the product and brand, increasing loyalty in the long term. 
 
As detailed further below, our process begins with understanding a client’s primary messages and goals and then determining how packaging and labels can help communicate that to customers, while safeguarding product integrity. With eCommerce, a customer’s first touchpoint may be the virtual shelf. For example, if the customer is searching for an organic, vegan, cruelty free product, packaging that might stand out to them might be minimal, contain soft colors and lines, and list ingredients in an easy-to-read way.  

The second touchpoint is the unboxing experience, which allows brands further opportunities to convey their messaging to consumers. Through “ship in own container” branded boxes, that same organic product could use muted colors, recyclable packaging and inserts, and a QR code that links to further information to show the consumer how to recycle the packaging and to learn more about the brand and its mission. 
 
The shift from in-person retail to eCommerce has created a whole set of new challenges, but the packaging and labeling possibilities are endless. 

CDU: Are there specific consumer demographics or preferences that your company takes into consideration when developing packaging solutions for beauty brands? 

BT​: Preferences vary brand to brand, and it depends on what demographics are of focus to the company we’re working with. Brands in the beauty and cosmetics industries span generations and demographics, which allows for endless possibilities for the right packaging attributes (graphical enhancements, packaging format, etc.)

Again, we are seeing an increase in customers’ prioritization of sustainability coming from certain generations. According to recent research by the Harvard Business Review​, when Gen Z and Millennial customers believe a brand cares about its impact on people and the planet, they are 27% more likely to purchase it than older generations are. 

CDU: Packaging often serves as a powerful tool for brand storytelling and identity. How does your company help beauty brands effectively communicate their values and identity through packaging design? 

BT​: We work hand in hand with our clients to ensure we understand their values, identity, challenges, and opportunities before diving into the ideation process. Identifying those key attributes is a critical first step and from there, we are better able to make suggestions to our clients on how to communicate those values. 

For example, if a company’s main priority is sustainability, we can find ways to rightsize packaging, adjust label design to emphasize a clean and minimal look and incorporate recycling or reuse information, or audit its manufacturing processes to find ways to increase efficiency and reduce waste.

If another brand’s priority is standing out on the physical or virtual shelf and emphasizing a first impression for a customer, we can look to include bold colors or sleek imagery in a product label, or elevate the unboxing experience by using “ship in own container” packaging that is branded with a company’s own imagery, colors, and messaging. 

CDU: In what ways are technology and digital innovations integrated into the packaging solutions your company provides for beauty products? 

BT​: RRD is constantly looking for ways to innovate to keep up with the latest industry trends and drivers from our clients. For example, we recently installed four new label presses in facilities across the U.S. to expand our label production capacity amid a booming eCommerce market.

Additionally, with retailer mandates and increased adoption of RFID tags, we are able to streamline and add value to brands by manufacturing both the RFID label and secondary packaging, as well as apply the RFID label to the packaging in one integrated process.      

CDU: Looking ahead, what are some emerging trends or predictions you foresee shaping the future of packaging in the beauty, cosmetics, and personal care industries, and how is your company preparing to address them? 

BT​: Hyper-personalization of products is on the rise. Brands are continuing to introduce products tailored to individual customers, allowing them to share background information that the brand then utilizes to produce products customized to its users’ needs.

With this trend comes a need for tailored packaging and labels, as some brands include specific customer details within those mediums. Hyper-personalization can require more time and effort in terms of packaging and labels, but the opportunity to connect with customers can create a lasting impression that can go a long way in terms of brand loyalty. 

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