Could health and beauty retailers be missing a trick this summer?

* 3 min read

What do you reach for first when you’re packing for your summer hols? Chances are, it'll be the suntan lotion, swiftly followed by shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, after sun and all the other sundry potions we use every day. If you’re organised, you’ll have bought the mini-sizes. If there’s more than one of you, you’ll be packing standard sizes (with the full intention of leaving the half-used contents behind rather than have the aggro of repacking them for the flight home). Perhaps just as predictably, and regardless of which lotion or potion, you’ll have stuck to your normal brand.

When it comes to packs, health and beauty brands are unquestionably missing a trick. A walk through any chemist or supermarket will reveal…well, nothing much of note. There is no stand out packaging, nothing to tap into the sense of excitement holidaymakers are feeling at the prospect of the new and different.

The opportunity to shift brand preference at a point when our mindsets are open to trying something new has been missed by a category that is generally as clued up as it gets in making packaging work hard and smart.

Health and beauty is a past master at making the most of packs at Christmas - certainly last Christmas, it was one of only two categories to see an increase in spend. This was driven in large part by pack changes: the gifting ranges, premium products, and festive packs, not to mention personalisation and all manner of pack innovations that defines a key selling period. Three great examples of Christmas health and beauty packaging are the Nivea and Lush gift packs, as well as the Love and Wilde brand introduced by Superdrug.

To my mind, holiday season could also be a key selling period. According to Datamonitor, the next five years will see the UK health and beauty market driven by product innovation, as consumers are becoming more interested in their looks and health, rising obesity and an ageing population. Product advancements like multi-purpose skincare and cosmetics, and medicinal ingredients used more in health & beauty products will aid the market to grow by over 23.0% by 2020.

Clearly, there’s a lot at stake. Here are three ways in which health and beauty brands can make the most of summer:

1. Take a leaf out of drinks’ brands’ copybooks. The category is an industry leader when it comes to design as well as size. To start, most drinks brands offer smaller bottles than the traditional 70cl bottles for travellers. Then, they lavish the same care when it comes to pack materials on their smaller sizes as they do their standard variants. And finally, they drive purchase through the creation of special editions - and more

2. This is the era of engagement and packs are a crucial element in winning hearts and minds through summer trends and making packaging reflect the general positivity. Whether people are going to Glastonbury or going on holiday abroad, packaging that is personal is going to leave more of a mark than the usual bland bottle in the bathroom, day in, day out at home. Brands could start teaming up with designers and artists to create limited edition summer stock that is relevant to customers at a relevant and specific time - a holiday momento if you like

3. And finally (for the next summer season at least) I’d like to see health and beauty brands using the whole pack as part of their design framework. Currently, there’s an over-reliance on the label and colour of bottle to drive brand values and recognition. During the summer months, mini-sizing doesn't have to mean mini-design. You can introduce everything from uber-travel- friendly pouches through to innovative dispensing systems to make people’s lives easier. There’s a whole world of possibilities to explore, if you just banish the notion that when it comes to summer packs, one size fits all.