Michael McCormick, Global Marketing Manager for the Cosmetics, Personal and Homecare sectors at Videojet Technologies, looks at the effect the popularity of male grooming products has had on manufacturers in terms of coding and marking.
The male grooming market – something which would have sparked a look of confusion if mentioned some years ago – has taken off considerably since the birth of the metrosexual male. Increasingly, the male population are applying more products when it comes to their appearance, and the days when a wash bag would contain a bar of soap, a bottle of shampoo and a can of shaving cream alone are fast disappearing. According to Statista, the global male grooming market in 2016 will peak at a figure in excess of $20 billion , and a steady increase is predicted.
One of the key areas of the male grooming market relates to the increased popularity of beards. The wearing of a beard has become very fashionable, and the serious business of beard maintenance has seen a marked increase in products such as conditioners, oils, serums and moisturizers. The wearers of these sometimes profuse facial adornments have started another social group all their own – the lumbersexual. Described as a metrosexual with a need to retain a certain ruggedness, this area of society has contributed significantly to the decline in sales of razors and other shaving related products. Those looking for a cleaner look are now often inclined to visit a traditional barber’s shop, for that closer than close finish.
Of course it isn’t just beards that are fuelling the market. Many men now have a daily ‘routine’, which can include haircare products, moisturizers, washes, scrubs, soaps and many other things besides. Appearance is everything seems to be the message, and manufacturers are having to keep pace across a number of different packaging formats in order to keep the modern man armed with the products he now daily requires.
Variation is a key consideration
Which substrate a manufacturer is working with will determine which coding and marking solution is best suited, and the range of substrates used for male grooming products covers close to the entire spectrum – from plastics and glass, to laminates and metals. In this sector there has been a great move towards traditional packaging materials – so glass vials and bottles and small metal tins, for example, are prevalent. So too are tubes, as they offer convenience, are cost effective and enable consumers to use every last bit of product within. Often there are intricate designs and graphics printed on the packaging itself, and space for coding is generally limited. What is important is to ensure a quality code can be placed to manufacturer and retailer quality requirements, at the same time ensuring that code does not detract from the overall appearance of the product.
Manufacturers are now having to deal with more and more packaging types and materials, which can have a direct impact on the coding and marking systems they choose to employ. In a recent customer survey, 47% of respondents said that they work with eight or more packaging types, coding anything from a single lot or batch number to a 2D barcode. A high percentage (24%) are printing 2D barcodes, which is synonymous with higher end, niche products in this sector. Barcodes enable a lot of information to be stored in a small area, and allow for better traceability throughout the supply chain – decreasing the risk of counterfeiting and product diversion.
Select the correct partner – select the correct system
Working with a coding and marking partner who understands the brand and what it is trying to achieve is very important, as is having the breadth of capabilities to offer in order to deal with any coding and marking situation. Many manufacturers of male grooming products have manual elements to their lines, as the focus is more on quality than speed, therefore the outward appearance of a code or mark is very important.
Videojet works in partnership with its clients to ensure that every detail is covered – down to matching the colours, shapes and placement of the codes to ensure they fit in with packaging designs. Laser solutions, such as CO2, are popular in the male grooming sector, as they can be used to mark directly onto labels using block out windows – creating a white code on a black box for example. Laser is also ideal for glass, as it creates a very high quality finish.
For a lower up front cost, and for customers printing a basic 2D code, lot or batch number, Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) printing would be the preferred option. A number of inks have been developed for different applications and production environments, so finding the correct ink for a particular packaging type or design is simple to achieve.
For flexible packaging, popular for individual sachets of creams or wipes, for example, Thermal Transfer Overprinting (TTO) is the obvious choice. The ability to print high resolution text and graphics using a large variety of ribbon colors means manufacturers can again ensure that codes are complementary to brand designs. Achieving the best contrast with the design of the packaging, as we have highlighted, is essential.
Changeover speeds are also important. Manufacturers are often handling a lot of different product types in short runs, therefore changeovers are frequent. Every time you changeover there is potential for errors to occur. All Videojet products use the CLARiTY™ interface. A simple universal interface that helps with job setup and ensures the correct codes are applied to the correct products – reducing waste and errors. This ability to condense changeover times means more emphasis can be placed on production and the quality of the products being manufactured.
As men have decided to take control of their appearances and to invest more in themselves in terms of products, so too must the manufacturers of those products take every care to ensure they are fit for purpose in every way – right down to the addition of a first rate code.