We all know that we need to reduce the amount of packaging we use. This growing consciousness among consumers is prompting brands and packaging designs to think less single use, and more long-term. One of the ways of doing this is via reusable packaging.
Earlier this year, make-up brand Charlotte Tilbury announced that its latest Hot Lips lipstick collection would come in refillable cases. It’s not the first to do such a thing – Lush and Hourglass have offered the same – but it has shone a light on how reusable can mean more luxe.
While Lush and Hourglass have gone for a single refillable case design, Charlotte Tilbury has created five different styles. La Bouche Rouge has done the same with its refillable lipstick cases. As a result, customers may be enticed to buy more so they have one of each design.
Likewise, the two brands have chosen designs and materials that are higher end with Charlotte Tilbury favouring gold detailing and La Bouche Rouge going for vegan leather with embossing. It’s a decision that makes sense when you consider that the aim is that customers keep the cases for a long time. The way the packaging looks, feels and wears is vital to ensuring that they are actually refilled.
As the trend towards reusable packaging grows, we may see a whole new opportunity around luxury packaging. Design may matter more than ever as customers have to live with their decision longer than traditional disposable options. They may be more discerning in their choice.
Even products that are more every day may get a more luxurious makeover. We can already see this with the Loop scheme which wants to put your everyday purchases, like ice cream and deodorant, into reusable packaging. This means a metal container for your Haagen-Dazs instead of cardboard.
Reusable packaging is also sparking design innovations. For its new hairspray, Lush has opted to create a detachable, reusable spritzer. Customers buy the spritzer the first time round and then switch to refills. Not only are they paying less each time, but it’s also helping reduce the amount of plastic that goes to landfill.
It’s an innovative new approach to a product category that has been packaged in much the same way for decades. The drive to reduce the amount of unnecessary packaging has meant that the designers have gone back to the drawing board. They’ve stripped back the product and considered what needs to be there – and what can be changed.
This is where reusable really has the chance to change the packaging industry. If it’s not a throwaway item, then can other materials be considered? Metal is more expensive than plastic, for example, but over a lifecycle of years or multiple uses it may be a viable option for products that it never would have before.
The packaging itself may also get to function in a different way. Perhaps in order to be reusable it needs to open or close in a different manner. Or it needs to be treated in some way to keep the product usable.
Reusable packaging might not just end up being good for our planet, but also for our packaging design. If designers are able to rip up the rule book for what packaging needs to be made from, how it has to look or work, then things could get interesting.
By Cate Trotter, Head of Trends at Insider Trends, London