Am I laughing over how many beauty mailers I get in a month or crying for the environment? What you’re seeing in the above photo is a ‘normal’ amount of unsolicited mailers arriving from beauty brands I get in a month. Some of them are from events I attended but the majority comes from brands having me on their automatic new product mailing list. It’s a very conflicting dilemma. On one hand when you judge as many beauty awards as I do, get regularly asked for quotes by magazines, do trend reports, consult in beauty, on-air segments and are on NewBeauty’s council it’s important to stay current and see all the new launches. On the other hand the amount of guilt over my carbon footprint and when I take out my trash from all the packaging is enough to make anyone sick. I still favor going to events over getting mailers. It’s my chance to learn about the product in a way a press release doesn’t offer, ask questions, try the product before taking it home and meeting brand founders to get more unique insight into the launch but alas there’s only so many hours in the day and realistically I have limited free time.
My brilliant friend Daniela Ciocan, founder of Unfiltered Experience recently interviewed me for Beauty Packaging to talk all things beauty mailers, packaging and sustainable packaging. “Insta Factor” refers to what brands are doing to get influencers/editors to post their products to Instagram, which often includes excessive packaging and gifting. A few things I didn’t get to elaborate on and some points I want to make is this…
- Editor/Influencer Gifting vs extra packaging – maybe creative gifts were always a thing, maybe it became big because of unboxings (the term used when individuals open a box of product, generally on Instagram to show their audience what’s inside). Whatever the reason brands started to allocate budget to them. For example three brands launch an SPF and they all have $50 – $100 in gifting to send the product with. Brand A might include a portable phone charger, beach bag, towel… and do a cute mailer with ‘beach essentials’ and include their SPF product. Brand B does an extravagant laser cut box holding the product with some sand inside. Brand C donates $50 – 100 to cancer research in your name with the product to educate audiences further on SPF being a must to protect against skin cancer. All three brands spent the exact same on the mailer, but which was the best use of their budget? In my opinion everyone loves a gift (something they’d reuse, nothing junkie or promotional) or a charity tie in making Brand A and C creative mailers in my opinion. Personally, I think were all over custom packaging that just gets trashed after you open it. If you can make it pretty or fun in a non-wasteful way, that’s lovely, but what editors are complaining about is the volume of products they receive where the packaging isn’t eco-friendly or reusable. Everyone loves a gift, everyone loves creativity, but we’re all over the large amounts of trash. I’m always asked what gifts I loved. And I’ve received everything from Frette towels, MZ Wallace bag, portable phone chargers, jewelry, gift cards, (all my favorite things and beyond). I’ve also received a lot of weird things, like fish bowls, inflatable rafts (which might have been interesting if I had a pool or came with a pool pass), and an obscene amount of yoga mats and water bottles — the marriage of fitness and skincare is real. One of my favorite, on brand gifts though was for Chirstmas, Caudalie gifted small, planted trees with their products and also planted one in every guests names. As a sustainable brand that has planted over 4+ million trees and is committed to giving back to the Earth this stood out and was very inspiring AND on brand for them. And in case you don’t know, trees cleanse the earth by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Wonderful messaging. I implore brands to look at their product and get creative with their ingredients, and brand messaging when doing mailers.
- Eco-packaging and creative packaging – I recognize a lot of consumers are confused with the packaging controversy editors talk about, and to clarify it pertains to press mailings. Not the actual brand and their packaging which you buy at the store or online which is a completely different conversation. I was asked which brand had innovative packaging, I think new comer Victoria Beckham Beauty (although it’s a little heavy) did a gorgeous job. And Pat McGrath and the new Hermes lipsticks stand out for their packaging/branding. It’s not Eco-friendly but original. And in the eco-friendly space I love that brands like Kevin Murphy switched over to 100% ocean waste plastic. More brands need to look at what they are doing for the environment and follow suit. All of Burt’s Bees packaging can all be recycled (even their lipsticks, which most brands use magnets making them non-recyclable). You’d be shocked by how many beauty products you can’t recycle because of the packaging or pumps, hidden magnet and beyond. Burt’s is also experimenting with excess cotton salve from tshirts for their face wipes, which is super cool. I’m also all on board with brands examining their current products and figuring out how to update the packaging for more sustainable practices. Erno Laszlo is also making strides this year and exploring a more sustainable supply chain and now use parchment paper instead of plastic wrap for their best-selling Cleansing Bars. Other brands that are very environmentally conscious that have great packaging is Youth to the People and also Kiehl’s. I’m not big on jars because they require you to put your (sometimes dirty) hands inside the jar and also have air exposure getting who know what into the formula. I gave my sister the Kiehl’s Pure Vitality Skin Renewing Cream which is in a jar and I promptly took it back as soon as she opened the lid and it has a pump attachment as part of the jar sealing it that is GENIUS! I’m all for innovation in this space and brands learning from each other to up the game when it comes to the environment.
I personally feel like the world is falling apart and we need to look to brands to help solve this issue. As consumers we can only do so much but if we use our voices to get brands to change the impact can be huge! Read my interview with Beauty Packaging HERE.