Following one of the worst global economic meltdowns in recent history, with only partial recovery just beginning to emerge, it’s nice to see that people have finally gotten their priorities in order. This apparently explains why Visiongain, which gathers and provides business intelligence, predicts that the world cosmetics packaging market looks to grow in 2013 – in developed markets and emerging ones.

At the same time, the fair trade movement in cosmetic packaging – which supports suppliers that employ underprivileged workers on a long-term basis — also looks to gain some traction. Even in China and Brazil, where, last year, Cosfibel Premium launched an ethical sourcing program called CARES (Cosfibel Actions for Responsible and Ethical Sourcing). Cosfibel plans to display the collection this June at Pack & Gift in Paris.

What accounts for the Robin Hood-meets-Billy Crystal/Fernando Lamas scenario? Why are cosmetic companies shifting resources in the direction of the poor, while simultaneously celebrating the notion that, a la Crystal’s famous SNL parody of Lamas, it really is better to look good, no matter how bad you might feel? And why are societies around the globe, still mired in economic uncertainty, seemingly poised to make cosmetics a buying priority?

Two faces of the same coin

For starters, it’s probably wise to acknowledge that, even in the worst of times, people generally make an effort to care for their appearance. Assuming most folks have cut back on extravagant things like expensive fragrances and mere decorative items, it only stands to reason that they’ll now splurge a little if they’ve got more to spend.

It’s also important to note that the fair trade movement, though perhaps associated with socially responsible trends that seem less than a natural fit with the glamour and beauty industries, can add to and bolster any market willing to embrace it. In other words, fair trade products add to the overall growth of an industry – which ends up as a win-win.

But a major reason why cosmetics look poised to grow? Old people. Lots and lots of old people, as life expectancies increase and people take better care of themselves, watching what they eat and exercising more regularly than perhaps ever before. No one, not even the late Jack Lalanne in his juice-extracting heyday, would opt for an athletic frame that contrasts heavily with what rests on the shoulders (the Brylcreem and black hair dye industries supposedly took a temporary nosedive when the exercise fanatic died in 2011 at the age of 96). The older we get, the better we apparently need to gracefully present ourselves.

Another factor contributing to growth in cosmetics packaging, according to Visiongain, is an increased focus on male grooming. Which either means that all the nagging has finally reached a watershed moment, or guys really have gone soft and there is little hope for a return to the glory days of showering with a splash of Hai Karate and combing one’s hair with a towel. Whatever the underlying implications, Visiongain says that men will be buying up more facial and hair care products. No worries, evidently, until they start talking nails and fragrances (mass-market aftershaves excluded, of course).

New beauty techniques and applicators also look to drive growth going forward. As do generally higher income levels in emerging markets, coupled with a stronger middle class and the proliferation of professional occupations. As the Visiongain report says,

Appearance is becoming more important, and as consumers grow wealthier they are able to afford products previously seen as unattainable luxuries.

But what if…?

And now for the flip side, much less concerning than those drug commercials that spend half the time telling people the terrible things that can happen if they try – just try — to boost their libido with a pill or six:

  • Visiongain says that the lingering financial crisis and euro-zone troubles could put the kibosh on growth: “Reduced consumer and producer confidence restricts cosmetics packaging growth as consumers reduce purchases”.
  • Should the economy double dip, beauty sectors seen as essential, such as facial and hair care, will likely hold their ground (can you say, “Suave does what theirs does for less”?), while nail care and fragrances will likely take a hit. As, naturally, they should.
  • If there were to be price volatility in the areas of raw materials or energy, cosmetic packaging profits would potentially be impacted, as would be the case in most any other industry.

Other than that, things for the cosmetic package industry look pretty good for 2013. With any luck things might even, as Crystal’s satirical Fernando would say, “look mahvelous”.

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