Luxury, sobriety and sensuality: if Baudelaire had been alive in the 21st century, his poetry may also have alluded to ecology in its homage to beauty.
According to a study by Bain & Company (2020), while the new generation of consumers, more conscious of the environmental impact of their purchases, are expected to generate growth of 180% in the luxury sector by 2025, this sector represents a certain paradox. As Élisa Monnot points out, the unboxing trend on social media – where customers post videos of themselves opening packages – has “generated a lot of consumer interest in packaging, an integral part of the luxury experience.” Therefore, companies cannot get rid of packaging entirely! Brands must thus perform a balancing act between consumers’ desire for beautiful containers and ecological awareness, and it is now more important than ever to get it right. Here we focus on four strategies adopted by the luxury and beauty sector to make the shift to more environmentally-friendly packaging.
Working with materials
Other companies are exploring innovative ways to improve their products’ end-of-life. For example, champagne brand Veuve Clicquot has adopted a printing/knitting process known as “3D knitting” to produce its recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) boxes, using exactly the right amount of materials, and thus reducing the volume of waste produced by around 30%.
The use of mono-materials is another key trend, such as the bamboo and sugarcane fiber shell designed by Chanel to protect its iconic N°5 fragrance, or the Sweet Collection developed by Texen, for cosmetics in stick form, made of 100% polypropylene (PP), which can be directly recycled.
Develop innovative new shapes
While water is the main ingredient in cosmetic products – representing between 60 and 80% of the formula for a cream and up to 95% for a shower gel or shampoo – products in solid format are also an effective way of decreasing the size of packaging and as a result, the amount of materials used. For example, Chanel’s cleansing foam powder with red camellia (which must be diluted in a small amount of water) is fully in keeping with this trend for “waterless beauty products”.
Encourage reuse, in all its forms
As the researcher highlights, this is practical when considering that this type of drink must be protected from sunlight to preserve the taste, and that brands are reluctant to do away with gift boxes completely, especially during the holiday season.
Refills are also gaining ground, not only in the perfume sector, with products such as the Armani My Way Fragrance, but also in the eyeshadow, blusher and lipstick markets. In some cases, this involves “all-in-one” products, with jars featuring interchangeable inserts depending on the chosen formula (perfume, lotion, emulsion, etc.). With products becoming more customizable and modular, will zero waste be the new business model in the luxury sector?
Develop new aesthetic standards
Teacher-researcher at CY Cergy Paris University, specialist in responsible consumption and sustainable marketing.
Combining ecology and beauty, the project of the 21st century?