Increased market speed
Over the recent years, the lifetime of a beauty product on the market has been shortening dramatically. Cosmetics companies are under constant pressure to renew and refresh their ranges. In the make-up category, about 1/3 of a line is renewed every year. Even in the perfumery industry, where successful creations may stay on the market for decades, brands are now creating the buzz with seasonal flankers, special editions and lately, charitable editions.
One consequence is that brands are always looking for innovative packaging and decorations to stand out from the mass. And they need to go fast to market to address the very last trends with more customised and diversified decorations in smaller quantities. In such a context, proximity, flexibility and reactivity are key factors of success for suppliers.
Another striking change is the higher pressure for more ecological solutions and the use of recyclable and sustainable materials. Several big players in the cosmetics industry have set ambitious sustainability targets and asked their suppliers to help them to meet these goals, either by taking their part of the burden through more environmentally friendly processes or by proposing innovative green solutions.
In the luxury market, brands may face specific difficulties with this environmentally friendly trend. Indeed, packaging is fully part of the luxury experience and its main aim is to win over consumers and reinforce product satisfaction. However, luxury brands are also sensitive to ethical and sustainability issues and are searching new ways to combine premium aesthetics with lower environmental impact.
Ten years ago, few luxury packaging suppliers claimed to have production lines in Asia, today, it’s the opposite that strikes you. Actually, the increase in quality of Asian beauty packaging suppliers has been impressive.
However, after having flown away to Asia is a significant part of the packaging production coming back to Europe or to North America? Several major packaging suppliers recently announced plans to open new manufacturing sites, closer to Europe to better serve their customers in these markets. Quadpack - a group that used to be exclusively centred on quality packaging sourcing, notably in Korea - recently acquired a plant in Spain and is investing intensively to upgrade it. Another supplier of primary packaging, New Jersey’s Topline Products, which set up its first factory in 1995 in China, now operates four production units in the United States, in Mexico and in China and is preparing the opening of a new plant in the outskirts of western Europe, to better serve this market.
Among the factors that promote the inshoring movement, the main drivers are probably ethics (consumers are increasingly aware of the social and environmental consequences of their purchasing acts), costs recalculation (rising salaries in Asia, higher transportation costs and integration of quality and coordination problems), and the tightening of European regulations (REACH for instance). Moreover, with the shortening of products lifecycle (see trend #1), speed and flexibility are becoming key factors of success on the market and proximity makes it possible to streamline flow, shorten delivery schedules and thus customer stocks.
Nevertheless, in an increasingly multipolar world, new factories will continue to open in Asia and Latin America and in the other emerging markets. But the possibility that Asia could become the single world’s supplier is just fading away.