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Nail consumers demand newness: the nail category's fickle customer is inspiring fast-paced innovation--and suppliers are busy working with brands to create a slew of different types of polish, bottles, brushes, applicators, kits and nail accessories to keep up with every trend.

Like lip color, nail colors must change with each season's fashion trends--and there was a time not too long ago when that was all the newness and innovation that most consumers expected from their favorite nail brands. Today, new colors don't even come close to offering consumers the variety they have come to anticipate.

Thanks to all the nail bloggers pouncing on every new nail trend, consumers expect to find crystals in every color of the rainbow, two types of glitter topcoats, "feathered," and metallic; plus kits that provide easy ways to create any design. And since the nail industry's target customer is mainly young, their attention spans are short.

There's even a new free social networking app available for download on the iPhone, called Mani Diaries. It allows users to track, manage, and share photos and details about manicures and pedicures. Essic Cosmetics partnered with Math Diaries for the Holiday 2013 season, to feature its holiday Encrusted Treasures collection on the app.

The -fickle nail care consumer has more choices in the category than ever before. Many brands are offering art kits as limited edition items, so they can be changed on a regular basis--before the consumer gets bored.

Brands--and suppliers--are responding to the demand by creating a slew of different lacquer colors and effects. Nicole by OPI recently launched a new group of limited edition colors inspired by Carrie Underwood. To promote the collaboration, the pop star's name is scribbled on its cap.

"There has been a definite explosion in the nail product category, in my opinion, and this is evident by the number of new launches on the market," says Lou Della Pesca, president, 3C Inc.

Baralan's Jim Slowey, the company's vice president of sales and marketing, says that brands are quick to react to trends, to continually launch new products--and give nail customers the "newness" they're after. "While we have seen a bit of softening in the nail category, the major players continue to refine their brands and react to consumers' wants and needs, keeping this segment of color cosmetics fresh and interesting," he explains.

The pressure for new often rests on the suppliers. Slowey says, "It is up to us, as suppliers, to continue to present new ideas to brands. We are currently trying to bring one or two new ideas to the market each year, and then gauge interest before moving forward. Of course, if anyone has an idea for a bottle design, we are always willing to give technical advice, as well as discuss the possibility of a new partnership."

Sandra Hutson, marketing/product development director, Topline, also says that nail trends change quickly. "I think this makes it very difficult for brands, and perhaps nail customers show a low level of brand loyalty," she says.

The nail business has been growing for Bottle Coatings, Inc. Shivie Dhillon, the company's president, says, "With so many innovations in nail decor and polishes, there are numerous opportunities for , companies to offer something new, something different, with value-added benefits. So this is definitely a growing business for us." Bottle Coatings counts OK Orly and Nail Harmony among its customers.

Dhillon adds, "We're always researching and testing new innovations in the nail segment that we can share with our clientele for future applications. We've found that by bringing customers into our circle of innovation, it's an opportunity to discuss lots of good ideas. And we've discovered from this approach that the market has a growing thirst for ground-breaking nail products and solutions."

The Market

Nail polish sales have been showing double-digit growth for the past several years, but according to market research firm IRI, sales declined 0.9% to $225.9 million for the 12-week period ended Aug. 11, 2013, across mass retail outlets.

Overall, nail polish sales were still up 14.8% to $903.3 million for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 11, according to IRI. However, in 2012, the nail category posted a 24.8% increase, following a 35.7% gain in 2011.

Although the market has been showing signs of slowing, there are still many brands, as well as retailers, who believe that growth is only temporarily stalled. If all the new launches are any indication, there's still a demand for new nail products--and the trend hasn't gone anywhere.

Packaged Facts predicts that dollar sales of nail care products in the mass market will reach $2 billion for the year ending December 2016. The market research firm says there are several reasons why the demand for nail products will continue, including "the persistence of the nail-centric fashion culture; a continuing flood of innovative nail care products that will further empower women to imitate nail salon effects in their own home in a cost-effective way; and an increase in the number of frequent users of DIY nail care products."

Karen Grant, vice president and global beauty industry analyst, NPD, and advisor to Beauty Packaging, says, "This dynamic, and do-it-yourself trend, helps position the nail care category quite well to continue growing even in times of economic uncertainty". Grant is also optimistic, commenting, "Getting a pulse check on the nail consumer is so very important right now. At this moment in time, nail is still a blue sky, white canvas opportunity. We are just scratching the surface." NPD's latest report is "Nail Care & Polish Consumer Report," published March 2013.

Trendy Nail Art Kits

Nail brands are responding to the "nail art" craze by creating kits that are designed to make it easy for at-home users to create different designs on their nails.

Topline's Hutson says that kits are very appealing to consumers right now. "The nail customer is looking for quick and easy solutions. They also want to customize their nail look, creating their own designs."

Shana King, senior director of beauty and education at Anisa International, agrees, saying, "More consumers want to recreate high-style looks at home."

A kit usually includes the specific nail tool necessary to create the look, and can provide brushes, stickers, tape and appliques, to create patterns and designs; tweezers, to apply decorations onto the nails, such as crystals; and even funnels, to round up small nail accessories like crystals, so they can be poured back into a bottle.

Anisa International continually develops a variety of innovative nail care tools, including nail "dotters," and a palette. "Our range of trend-setting nail accessories is designed to enhance the application experience. They're easy-to-use, and will make the consumer feel like a nail artist," says King.

The trio of dotters is a set of tools with tiny tips in trendy shapes, to help make it easy for users to "dot" any type of design onto the nail.

Anisa International's nail palette is designed to make it easier for consumers to do their own nails at home, and can be filled with trendy colors and patterns. "It's compact, portable, easy-to-clean and can be used like an artist's palette," says King.

Ciate and Nails Inc. are two nail brands available at Sephora, among other places, that both offer lots of variety. Each of these brands has at least five different types of kits available at any given time--and they're packaged in boxes with eye-catching graphics that show off the look the consumer will be able to create.

Nails Inc., a brand based in London, currently offers the Bling It On Rebel Kit, which comes with sparkling crystal stones and crystal skull shapes by Swarovski Elements, along with a lacquer formulated to resemble the texture of leather on the nail. (See Beau for more of this brand's innovative kits.)

One of Ciate's recent innovative kits was called the Chalkboard. Manicure, which was sold for a limited time. It included black nail polish in a bottle, to paint your nails to resemble a chalkboard, along with nail pens, which were the "chalk."

"The nail pens we used had skinny nibs, to allow small doodles to be drawn directly on the nail," says Charlotte Knight, founder/creative director, Ciate. "The chalk pens were formulated especially for this kit--the paint was water-based, unlike regular polish, so it allowed you to wipe away unwanted designs, just like chalk," she adds.

3C is one supplier that offers an automatic nail polish pen. "It's been a big hit for us--a very popular item," says Della Pesca. The pen comes in two different designs, each with different features. "One is a push-button that dispenses the proper amount of lacquer to the nail. The other has two clear windows, so you can see the polish as it's being dispensed," he explains.

Knight says she is often inspired by the fashion industry when coming up with new concepts for nail kits, including the catwalk and photo-shoots. "My team at our head office in London are all encouraged to share their ideas for upcoming colors and textured looks," Knight says.

Ciate's kits are always packaged in colorful boxes, decorated with attention-getting artwork created by an illustrator. Currently, the brand created a box for its Dolls House kit that's at Sephora now. It is decorated with an illustration that resembles windows in a dollhouse. The box's front flap opens to reveal a different pastel hue, in a mini bottle, in each of the five windows.

Claire's is another brand that offers lots of variety It has over 25 different kits available now on its website, including accessories like a Gem Wheel, filled with crystal stones that can be applied to nails using an adhesive.

Topline recendy worked with Claire's to create a Glitter Sprinkle Cap, for its Nail Polish with Pixie Powder Topcoat. The "pixie powder" is the glitter that is contained inside the cap, and which can be sprinkled over polished nails as a topcoat.

While other brands have a signature shape, Claire's offers its young customers more variety by using many different types of bottles, from minis to heart-shapes, depending on the lacquer color and kit.

3C offers a selection of nail polish bottles in just about every shape and size, to meet the demand of its customers. "We have square, oval, diamond shaped bottles," says Della Pesca. "We also have miniature nail polish bottles made from poly-amide (PA) material, which is a plastic that is compatible with most nail lacquer formulations. In addition to bottles, we supply matching caps and brushes," he adds.

Baralan is offering its customers a new nail polish package--the Twin Cap. "This new item allows for two bottles of nail polish to be together M the same package, side by side. It is great for French manicure, color and tip color together, polish and nail hardener or even polish and topcoat," says Slowey. "This package is also available with one side as polish--and the other side, as lipgloss. Or, a taller bottle will even allow for a mascara applicator," he explains. The available sizes are 3- through 6ml.

Nail Brush Kits

The pros have always known that the best way to apply nail lacquer is with a separate brush--not the tiny one included in a nail polish bottle. And now since the popularity of at-home nail art kits, suppliers are offering more types of nail brushes. Brands are selling these separately, as sets, and often including the correct brushes in nail art kits, to enable the user to more easily replicate the looks that were once only achievable by professional manicurists.

Cosmogen offers a professional-grade brush set, designed for precision, so users can easily create custom designs like the pros. Charlotte Clabaux, marketing manager of Cosmogen, says, "Each brush is available in different fibers and ferrules."

The collection includes a fan brush, which is ideal for glitter and pearl textures; an inclined liner brush, which has a tip that allows the user to create precise lines inside circles and other designs; a long liner brush, for thin lines and waves; a metal tip tool, which is rounded and available in different diameters, for applying dots; a small oval brush, to create small designs with precision; a French manicure brush, which has a curved shape that allows you to easily follow the edge of the nail; and more.

Anisa International also offers a nail brush kit. It features four unique brushes with different tips, to encourage users to create their own designs.

Memorable Bottles in Fancy Shapes

Although colors, kits and accessories change with the trends, most nail brands create a signature look for their lacquer bottles, and stick with it.

Ciate's signature bottle is unique and instantly recognizable, with a rectangle-shaped base. "Our bottle is the foundation of our brand, and I designed it specifically to fit snugly into your hand when painting nails, as most polish bottles are square and more difficult to hold on to," explains Knight.

The bottle's long slender cap looks elegant, and is adorned with a black satin bow. "The elongated cap allows extra control when painting the nail--this is an absolute essential. The bow is satin and snugly fixed onto the cap with glue. It is what makes our bottle so memorable," explains Knight.

Urban Decay's nail polish bottle is also memorable. It has an edgy, silver cap adorned with a metal skull on top, with the brand's logo engraved along the side.

Nails Inc., which is based in London, always uses round bottles, but creates different looks based on the polish color. Its gunmetal silver sparkle is called graffiti; the cap is decorated with a colorful label, and it looks like the polish name is scribbled in neon marker. The brand's Feathers lacquer, which describes the texture' of the topcoat, is adorned with a bird on its cap.

The luxury brand, MINE Luxury Lacquer, is taking polish to an entirely new level. Veleta Vancza, the brand's co-founder and creative director, developed a hand-cut Austrian crystal bottle for the lacquer, which retails for $1004500, depending on the color. Why such an outrageous price tag? The colors are made from genuine gold and silver. (See the Online Exclusive story at Beauty for more about this brand.)

Specialized Packages that Offer Solutions

Nail care is another segment of the nail category, and these products include cuticle oils and nail treatment products, which require specialized packages. User-friendly dispensing systems and applicators are ideal for these products, and suppliers are delivering many options.

Joanna Milne, sales manager, Virospack, says its dropper bottles have been very popular lately. "The demand for droppers within the nail treatment category has increased dramatically," says Milne Virospack offers all types of dropper bottles, from classic to push-button caps, in standard or custom colors.

Cosmogen is promoting its Mini Squeeze 'N Tint tube as a specialized package for nail care products. "This squeeze tube incorporates an accurate brush that allows for a very precise and ultra-smooth application. Like our entire Squeeze 'N range, its patented open/close rotary head prevents contamination, while preserving the formula.

Although not as popular lately as DIY nail art kits, gel polish is another big category for the nail in-dustry--and it requires specialized packaging. Many brands use bottles that are coated for protection, because gel polish will cure when exposed to UV light. These gel polishes are sold for use at home, but the trend began at nail salons.

"The trend within the industry is definitely one of growth for nail products, especially UV-cured gels. They continue to gain in popularity, and our color matching powder coating techniques enable us to stay current with all of the latest colors, shades and textures," says Dhillon.

Not only does Bottle Coatings powder-coat and precisely color-match glass nail gel bottles, the company also offers services such as pad printing and graphic design to increase its clients' product marketability.

The Bottom Line

Will the trend and current demand for nail products continue?

Clabaux calls attention to the differences among trendy nail art products--and classic nail care products, for which there will always be a need. "Nail Art is certainly linked with fashion, but if you consider some historic trends like the French Manicure, some become timeless," she says. "It is too early to say that nail trends are totally over, but the market is probably mature. Last summer was quite similar to 2012, after a huge increase. We'll be able to say more about how the market is moving, by next summer," she adds.

Bottle Coatings is very excited and optimistic. "We've built additional powder coating lines for 2014, in order to meet the increasing demand with capabilities for greater volume and increased quality," says Dhillon.

"Women will always still want to have nice nails," says Clabaux.
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Publication:Beauty Packaging
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Date:Jan 1, 2014
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