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The Truth About Packaging Waste in the Beauty and Fashion Industry

Posted by Contributors on April 1, 2018

There’s nothing more beautiful than the luxury and upbeat persona that is the fashion and beauty industry - unless you ask the planet. As the industry grows, so does its outlandish packaging and wasteful mailings.

What the Pros Say About Packaging Waste

Fashion and beauty people - executives, editors, artists, and influencers - were asked about the products sent to them regularly with 81% responding that they felt the products were in “excessive” packaging.

Respondents said that the number one offender was the fashion and beauty industry, followed by holiday mailings.


What Accounts for Packaging Waste?

Most note that packaging waste includes loads of tissue paper, packing peanuts, crinkle paper, and numerous boxes, but may go all the way to oversized gifts, balloon displays, and life-size faux products.

Mailings contain never-ending marketing material, giant lookbooks, extensive catalogs, newsletters, updates, and just about everything imaginable. Twelve-million paper catalogs are sent to U.S. homes every year, and most end up in the local landfill. Those consumers also say they don’t want mail they didn’t request, which may be a hard pill for a retailer to swallow.

Why all the Fluff?

People love a good experience, and opening a new product with excitement attaches that positive emotion and experience to the product. Retailers know this, and they want to provide it at a high-level with each product. Who could blame them?

The game is on to provide the best one possible, so the consumer keeps coming back for more. Enter hours of packaging planning, more hours to actually pack, creative or even outlandish packaging concepts, and finishing touches to make the consumer swoon.


The beauty and fashion industry also typically sells smaller products. This means they need more packaging to really make the product pop, when it may be just as expensive as a larger product. There’s only so much information you can fit on a tiny bottle of eyelash serum, so the packaging has to speak for the rest of the wow factor.

Unfortunately, all the wow factors lead to annoyed industry influencers (and surely garbage pickup services, too). Minimalism is in, with more and more millennials ditching their build up of material possessions in lieu of simplicity. It’s time that businesses take note.

People want to be wowed by your product, not your packaging spend. This means that more is less, and that you need to get a wow factor out of simple packaging, clear cut marketing materials, or even your environmentally-friendly packaging.

How Do You Downsize Packaging?

The idea of downsizing your packaging may seem daunting, but really, it can be simple. Here are some easy ideas to bring more environmental-care and less fluff into your packaging model:

  • Choose recycled plastic and paper in packaging and mailings.
  • Opt for compostable packaging.
  • Get more bang for your marketing buck by sending your goods in a reusable bag, such as a fabric bag. You’ll get the added bonus of having your consumer tote around your brand while saving the planet.
  • Simply use less packaging. Ask yourself what is the bare minimum of packaging needed to send the product, and design your materials around that.
  • Use every opportunity. Include a simple flyer, brochure, or coupon within an order, saving another mail-out later.
  • Try an opt-in mailing only.
  • Go old school and use postcards. People love postcards.
  • Go digital and offer your newsletter or products online only.
  • Allow consumers to choose. At check out, let them choose the minimalist approach or the dramatic packaging effect. You could even offer to donate a small sum to an environmental fund if they choose the minimalist option.

Remember that this doesn’t have to mean you throw all of your marketing materials and packaging plans out the window. For as long as there are products, there will be packaging. But, focus on delivering a stunning package without elaborate or ridiculous extras. Minimizers are looking for clean lines, basic colors, durability, and reusability above all else. What can you use in your packaging that will be an added “gift” which the customer will use in their everyday lives? That is the packaging that keeps customers coming back today.

We want to be wowed by the fashion and beauty industry. We love it, and that’s what they’re good at. But it’s time we start balancing the excessive wow-packaging with environmentally-friendly materials.

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The foundation of Onestop Internet's performance marketing strategy for our partners will be our analysis, identification, and targeting of online customer segments. Our ecommerce experts can tailor your offering to the shoppers who are most likely to engage immediately with your brand. We use cutting edge consumer research to build descriptive audience profiles that inform creative design, merchandising and promotions.

Topics: waste, packaging, recycle, Retail, Fashion, Beauty, Ecommerce

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