- February 28, 2006, David J. Bentley Jr., Contributing Editor
Browse through any store today—high end or low—that carries personal care items. You will notice hair-care products, lotions, cleansers, perfumes, and a host of similar items. You also will notice a lot of glitz. The marketing concept is to make the items so attractive, to appeal to as many physical senses of the consumer as possible, that someone (many, it is hoped) will feel compelled to buy them.
Something you probably will not notice is the attention to product protection that went into the design of the packages for these personal care items. This is equally as important in the marketing of personal care items as the attention devoted to shelf appeal.
Converters involved with flexible webs know that both the shelf appeal and product protection necessary for personal care items depend heavily on the resins, films, adhesives, coatings, etc., that they purchase and the finished goods they produce. In other words, the converting industry provides vital ingredients for personal care items.
Many personal care items project a stated or implied idea that they can contribute to a youthful look. With our increasingly older population, it is likely the demand for such products will continue to grow.
Another factor fueling the growth of personal care items, and their attendant need for packaging, is the increasing global demand for such products.
In many ways, the packaging required for personal care items is very similar to that used for food. For example, the combination of webs into a laminate and the adhesives used to accomplish this require materials that will withstand corrosion ingredients when the final product is a condiment pouch. In the same manner, special care is necessary in the selection of a laminate to prepare a pouch for packaging shampoo. Various additives such as fragrances can be as difficult to package as ketchup or mustard.
Barrier characteristics also are important considerations for the packaging of some foods and some grooming products. Certain foods require packages to retain an atmosphere, while others need to breathe. Fragrances in a personal care item obviously must stay in the package until the time of actual use, as this is what the consumer expects.
In-mold labeling is a technique that has found increasingly more widespread use in the past few years. This is a method of incorporating a label into a molded item so it becomes an integral part of the particular item. The result is the so-called “no-label” look that contributes to greatly enhanced visual appeal.
Selection of substrates when making laminates for personal care items is another way to increase the attractiveness of packages. Metallized films contribute to a bright, shiny look that can “cry out” to a customer, “Buy me!” A gloss coating or a laminated structure involving a glossy film also attracts consumers in a similar way.
Manufacturers of materials that go into the packaging of personal care items also must pay special attention to color. The inks have to match perfectly with that specified by the manufacturer of the item. Application of the ink must be at a level to give the desired coverage.
Preparation of laminates also must receive careful attention so the laminates do not contain any appearance defects such as mottling, orange peel, etc.
Converters need to establish close relationships with the manufacturers of personal care items so they can meet their special needs for these special products.
David J. Bentley Jr. is a recognized industry expert in polymers, laminations, and coatings with more than 30 years of experience in R&D and technical service. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.