Packaging for pharmaceuticals and cosmetics: the evolving cosmetics market also reaches pharmacies

In recent years, we are witnessing an interesting convergence between the pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors, leading to a phenomenon that is redefining consumers’ expectations and companies’ branding strategies. More and more cosmetic products, traditionally sold in perfumeries and department stores, are finding a new and prestigious space on pharmacy shelves: in Italy, sales of cosmetics through the pharmacy channel increased by 4% between 2019 and 2022 and by 4.6% between 2021 and 2022. This trend not only testifies to a change in the perception of quality towards cosmetics sold in pharmacies, but also opens the door to new reflections on the packaging intended for these “hybrid” products, at least from a distribution point of view.

But let us proceed in order. First of all, it makes sense to ask: why buy cosmetics in a pharmacy?

Cosmetics sold in pharmacies: the reasons for a choice

Let us begin by defining what we mean by ‘cosmetic’: it is a product intended for personal care that has predominantly aesthetic purposes, to which personal hygiene purposes are associated, and which can therefore be linked to an idea of well-being. But it does not contain any active ingredient of medical relevance, which would transform it, even formally, into a medicine. 

The first cosmetics to hit pharmacy shelves were those intended for people with allergies or skin sensitivities, who could not use common over-the-counter cosmetics; these were joined by dermocosmetic products to combat conditions such as acne, cellulite, irritated skin, stretch marks. Make-up products, perfumes and anti-wrinkle creams from brands that could also be found in perfumeries but remain in pharmacies due to a precise choice of market positioning, which leads consumers to associate them with ‘what is good and healthy’. The ‘white coat’ effect of the pharmacist indirectly contributes to further brand reliability. Pharmacosmetics brands know this, and in fact adapt their communication and marketing strategies accordingly, packaging choices included.

Beyond protection: the added value of Aluminium in cosmetic packaging

In this context, the Aluminium tube emerges as a winning packaging choice. Traditionally associated with pharmaceutical products, which recalls the highest quality standards in the mind of consumers, the Aluminium tube is experiencing a renaissance in the cosmetics industry due to its exceptional ability to protect the contents by providing a total barrier to light, moisture, air and external contamination. This material, thanks to its innate characteristics, lends itself perfectly to the needs of new pharmaceutical cosmetics, offering not only unparalleled protection, but also a clean and elegant aesthetic that the modern consumer recognises as high quality and environmentally friendly. 

Cosmetics in tubes: a strategic move, also for marketing

In recent years, the cosmetics industry has seen exponential growth, turning into a true cultural phenomenon fuelled by virality on social media. Platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and YouTube have become global showcases where influencers and fans share reviews, tutorials and beauty tips, transforming niche products and brands into almost overnight must-haves. 

One of the latest trends is #frenchpharmacy on TikTok, which went viral after an American girl was amazed by the difference in products found in European pharmacies compared to those in the States, where the more commercial concept of ‘drugstores’ is in force.  

A movement that celebrates the superior quality and effectiveness of cosmetic products available in French pharmacies (a discourse that extends to the entire European market), renowned for offering exclusive formulations that combine science and nature. The brands involved in this trend are often characterised by a long history of dermatological innovation, with products that promise visible results for all skin types, from moisturising and soothing to anti-ageing and corrective; as well as being excellent skincare or make-up products. 

This digital evolution has led to a further increase in awareness among younger consumers: the new generations demand not only effectiveness and quality, but also transparency and commitment to sustainability. According to NIQ’s CPG Sustainability Report 2023, 92% of shoppers say sustainability is important when choosing a brand today. The relationship between cosmetics, skincare and environmental care has therefore intensified, with an increasing number of brands implementing eco-friendly practices, from using natural and organic ingredients to reducing their carbon footprint and adopting recyclable, compostable or reusable packaging. This paradigm shift reflects a collective desire for responsible beauty, where personal well-being goes hand in hand with caring for the planet.

A trend that could also be clearly palpable at Cosmoprof 2024. Wandering around the colorful stands what one could breathe, in addition to the scent!, was a new focus on sustainability: attention to materials, natural (and if possible zero-kilometer) ingredients, packaging that is not only functional but also sustainable (both for the environment and the end consumer) and that communicates brand values. The figures speak for themselves: with over 3000 exhibiting companies present, from 69 countries, this year’s Cosmetics Show saw a growth of +4% compared to 2023, with 58% European representation and 42% companies from non-European countries. A real success that showed all the vitality of the supply chain, which is increasingly focused on being sustainable and with a strong vision of circularity. However, a doubt remains: will all these good intentions shown at the fair be reflected in the market approach? Or will they break against the barrier of lower prices?

Aluminium packaging in cosmetics. Also in pharmacy

In summary, as the boundary between the pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors continues to blur, the role of packaging becomes increasingly central. The Aluminium tube for pharmaceuticals and cosmetics is emerging as a packaging choice that not only meets the quality and safety requirements of both sectors, but also as a vehicle for strong values such as reliability, efficacy and sustainability. In an increasingly aware and demanding market, Tubettificio Perfektüp is proud to offer packaging solutions that not only protect and preserve the product, but also enhance its market positioning, testifying to the brand’s commitment to innovation and sustainability.

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