It’s no secret to anyone who even occasionally reads this blog, I adore the Korean packaging culture. It is innovative, creative, and still doesn’t compromise on the practical issues. So why aren’t Western companies doing the same thing as their Korean counterparts?
I think it’s quite simply a matter of realising that adult consumers like fun. There seems to be this notion that products need to be serious in order to be scientifically valid as well as the notion that you shouldn’t try too hard. Recently there’s also a trend in the west that everything should be ‘natural’, which is a word that means shit all in makeup. No matter how organic or natural something is, every product you put on your face is 100% chemicals. But the organic/natural trend seems to have influenced packaging to be minimalistic, plain, and well, boring.
Makeup is the adult version of face paint and somehow we often fall into the trap of taking it so seriously that we forget the fun. Korean women on average spend more money and time on skincare and makeup than Western women do and I believe this is a key factor in why Korean companies try to make makeup & skincare more fun. If your customer is going to spend a lot of time with your product, you want to make the whole experience positive.
My gummy bear hand cremes from SkinFood aren’t less good because they’re in packaging made to resemble massive pieces of candy. The TonyMoly powder compact I keep in my bag isn’t less effective because it has Jigglypuff on it, and my lip balm from It’s Skin isn’t less moisturising because it has the Cookie Monster’s face on it. These products get the job done, but in addition to that, they also make me smile. My day gets a little bit brighter when I get to laugh at the silliness that is “Psyduck Cheese Firming Cream” as I apply it after a shower. My skin gets moisturised and I get amused.
Looking at Sephora Australia’s website, the vast majority of the products I see look almost… clinical. There’s a handful of brands that have some fun with packaging. TheBalm, Kat von D, Benefit, and Too Faced are probably the Western major brands that dare to have fun with their packaging and themes. No one is going to look at the Chocolate Bar palette and assume it’s for kids or that it has to be low quality, and yet this is the assumption I’m often faced with when someone sees my Korean products.
Makeup & skincare are meant to be fun and functional, let’s have the packaging reflect that.