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Celebrate good times ... do brands presenting special occasion beauty products need to re-define and re-design celebration?

THE TREND FOR BEAUTY BRANDS helping us celebrate special occasions has gathered such momentum that it is almost becoming a sub-industry in its own right. But just what does celebration mean to us today? Do beauty brands need to re-define and re-design celebration?

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Happy Birthday, Happy Mother's Day ...

We are not knocking those brands that look for and tie into hot spots on the calendar--a list which seems to grow each year with Mother's Day, Father's Day, Earth Day and so on... Many launches are short-term, and tactical marketing initiatives take the form of limited editions. But many gift packs--such as Philosophy's annual holiday collections--are much anticipated and revered, and viewed as a delicious expression of seasonal branding rather than just a brand gimmick. And now, Philosophy's new Birthday Girl range is extending the brand's "occasions" offer.

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Media and celebrity events/affiliations have become another huge publicity machine for the industry--with, for example, Decleor recently hitting the headlines as beauty partner for this year's UK Brit Awards. For others, like MAC, the product range and brand persona is kept fresh by making an occasion out of every month with the launch of a limited edition every 30 days or so.

What's AnotherYear?

For many of the brand leaders, a big corporate birthday or anniversary presents a celebratory opportunity on a plate.

In 2008, Estee Lauder celebrated its anniversary year and produced a special edition compact to commemorate its long-standing retail partnership with Harrods. Unfortunately, it was prescriptive-looking rather than premium and collectible as was obviously intended. It's as predictable as the commemorative tea towels and plates that we sec that just place the relevant dates, emblems and colors without giving the proper attention to considered design.

In contrast, LancOme celebrated its 75th anniversary last year with a year-long program of brand activity such as a new ad campaign for Tresor (also celebrating its 20th birthday). But probably the greatest symbol--and most talked about brand addition--for the year was its new Oscillation Powerfoundation. Essentially a vibrat ing powder puff, the Powerfoundation came hot on the heels of its category-breaking oscillating mascara. Lancome shrewdly took a heartland product, improved the efficacy and tuned into the zeitgeist with the trend for oscillating makeup and power-plate exercise, and innovated for the future of the brand and the category. Lancome has celebrated heritage by successfully marking time with future-focused innovation and showing who and what the brand wants to be as it looks forward from this turning point in its brand life.

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Celebration in all its forms is about the relevance with the past having a connection with the future. But to create that all-important difference, celebration now has to be about looking for innovative--rather than stereotypical--ways to maintain and foster a new unique and meaningful connection that balances a sense of commemoration with the dictates of our culture.

Cultural Connection

Nars has always been a very fashion-forward brand and its new "Fashion Icon" collection launched just as the London and New-York Fashion Weeks were previewing Fall 2011.The palette of delicate pink and peachy spring colors is essentially a new way of grouping existing products. The key thing is that it is not a force fit. It is tapping into and celebrating the fundamental value and power of the brand DNA as well as projecting a celebratory element for the consumer. And the signature monochrome packaging featuring a single and classic figure on the runway is simple and clear, yet abstract enough, to easily represent any time, age, place...

Nars is celebrating a less obvious occasion in a less obvious and prescriptive way and with the understanding that--while we will still want to celebrate occasions--we want brands to find new and innovative ways to mark them. And while there is always a place for marketing, we now expect brands to be able to reflect--and celebrate--our needs and wants for experience and a new set of cultural values at retail.

A Brand New Way of Celebrating

There are many brands tapping into new cultural values that drive and motivate today's consumer, but are they truly celebrating them? Let's focus on just one. We have become a people for whom place and community has become increasingly important and particularly now, with our desire for "glocal," a hybrid of global and local. Beauty has primarily engaged naming in an attempt to celebrate place--with fragrances such as Hampton Sun and Bond No. 9 High Line to name just two--but the packaging does not truly promote and celebrate this association.

Enter Aesop. Aesop is a global brand leader, but no matter how big it gets, you feel as if you have personally discovered it. This is probably due to their stolidly lateral approach to marketing that relies on word of mouth and quirky community and in-store events--such as a dog-feeding day in the St Kilda store.

Angela Creasy is the buyer who seized on Aesop and brought it to Liberty at the end of 2006. "An innate and genuine interest in a variety of cultural topics has helped define this cult beauty brand," says Creasy. "The references gleaned from travel and other interests are incorporated into every product, which in turn appeals to inquisitive and design-literate customers." (Source: The Independent--UK)

This statement is wholeheartedly reflected in the design of its new travel kits.The seven kits are named after stylish streets, rues and strasses, and each comes in a sturdy black, reusable microfiber container. From the Austrian Oberdorfstrasse Hair Care kit to London's Westbourne Grove Bodycare Deluxe, each kit celebrates the sights, sounds, attractions and peoples of the "glocal" place. Aesop director Dennis Paphitis explains: "This is one occasion when the destination is as important as the journey. Each of these kits is dedicated to a street for which we feel great fondness and affinity, so much so that we have chosen these locations for our stores." (Source: Aesop)

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The practical and monochrome design fits perfectly with the parent Aesop brand but the ingenious map wrap--with an A-Z listing of some of the best things the brand has discovered about that particular location--is a truly ingenious, unique, informative, individual and celebratory packaging solution.

We want to experience the celebration and celebrate the experience--and packaging needs to re-define, reinstate and re-design itself as the first port of call.

Written by Jonathan Ford, Pearlfisher

Written by Jonathan Ford, Pearlfisher

About the Author

Jonathan Ford is a designer and creative partner of Pearlfisher (www.pearlfisher.com).
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Title Annotation:EuroSTYLE
Author:Ford, Jonathan
Publication:Beauty Packaging
Date:Apr 1, 2011
Words:1082
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