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Iconic Woodacity: Aptar and Quadpack talk lipstick collab

Alissa Demorest

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Iconic Woodacity: Aptar and Quadpack talk lipstick collab

Aptar Beauty + Home and Quadpack co-created and launched premium lipstick Iconic Woodacity earlier this summer. We got the back story from Aptar Beauty + Home Marketing Director Beauty EMEA Patrick Bousquel and Pierre-Antoine Henry, Quadpack’s Head of Market Development on the partnership and why they see this premium refillable wooden lipstick as an industry first .

What led to the creation of Iconic Woodacity?

Patrick Bousquel: Aptar and Quadpack have worked together on other projects and technologies over the years, including airless packaging solutions. This time, we wanted to explore new segments that would integrate Quadpack’s wood expertise and Aptar Chavanod’s (formerly Reboul) prestige lipstick skills coupled with Made in Europe manufacturing.

Pierre-Antoine Henry: Quadpack’s aim was to provide wood solutions that would ideally be monomaterial and if the project calls for it, either refillable or able to be dismantled. As Aptar is looking to work more with monomaterial solutions and alternative materials, the collaboration was a natural fit.

PB: In addition to the sustainability imperative—through the wood casing and the refill solution—local production was key. Iconic Woodacity is made in Western Europe, and more specifically in southern France and northern Spain, in two sites that are just 700 kilometers apart. This makes for much shorter lead times for our clients, more agility to respond to market trends and a more secure supply chain.

PAH: There are also a lot of potential synergies between our two companies when it comes to our customer base, the way we approach our business and simply our differences in scale as Quadpack is a medium-sized company. We are complementary, which makes selling the solution to the market that much easier. In terms of investment, we took an equitable approach to sharing costs.

Why choose to focus on the lipstick category?

PB: First, the lipstick segment has been quite quiet as a result of the pandemic, and we believe that times of crisis are opportune moments to focus on innovation. We also wanted to launch a product with a full, seasonal ‘make-up’ look with lots of color, rather than only zeroing in on the aspects of refillability and wood, for example.

How does Iconic Woodacity differ from other refillable lipsticks?

PAH: It’s not just a refillable wooden lipstick, there is also a novel and more premium opening gesture. The ¾ turn twist-off brings a little something new to lipstick, as opposed to just pulling the cap off.

PB: We decided early on in the development process that we wouldn’t add any additional plastic parts to Iconic, our bestselling lipstick mechanism so our teams worked together to assure the mechanism’s hold in the wooden case allowing the cap and base to close without the need for additional components.

Beyond its sustainable potential, what other benefits does working with wood bring to this development?

PAH: We were able to shape the material to fit the needs of Aptar’s existing Iconic mechanism. That’s the beauty of working with wood: it is machined, so the creative potential is boundless. Not to mention that there are no mold costs with wood. To create a new cap shape, for example, investment costs are five times lower than for the same shape in plastic, despite the higher cost of wood. Wood’s advantages are great flexibility and lower development costs versus plastic and the disadvantage is the higher sourcing costs. 

The fact that the market is looking for alternatives to plastic is a real selling point; the consumer won’t refill a pack that they don’t value. Wood is a noble material that takes on a patina with time, so there is that affective relationship that can happen as well.

What are the barriers to entry for refillable lipsticks?

PB: We are looking to break the glass ceiling of those 10%-15% of consumers who are actively looking for refillable or sustainable products. To do that, refillable products should be easy to use and bring emotional added value; it shouldn’t be a punishment to use refills, but as much of a pleasure to buy a refillable item as it is a traditional item. That’s the only way to grow the market.

PAH: There is also the price aspect, and we believe Iconic Woodacity responds to that: the wooden component, which the consumer keeps and refills, is the most expensive part to produce. Brands need to offer a significant difference between the price of the pack and that of the refill to encourage re-purchase.

How have your clients responded to Iconic Woodacity?

PB: It’s still early days! We launched Iconic Woodacity at MakeUp in Paris and Quadpack showed it at LUXE PACK New York. The culminating point will be at LUXE PACK Monaco in October, where we’ll reveal Iconic Woodacity’s latest decoration and finishing options and show the full spectrum of possibilities. We’ve also worked with a French contract manufacturer that created a formula allowing visitors to sample the lipstick with the formula.

PAH: We both agree that this is a first step in a long-term collaboration to innovate with new gestures, new formats… This first co-creation is already extremely promising!

How is the beauty market currently performing from your perspective?

PAH: The market is uncertain. While cosmetics tends to perform well in tough economic times (with the exception of Covid of course), we are seeing a certain paralysis from brands, there is a clear aversion to risk. Decision-making and launches have slowed down for projects in the pipeline and this is undoubtedly due to the uncertain climate. From our supplier viewpoint, there has been such a strong movement to re-stock that our lead times are very high and we’re having trouble responding to demand.

PB: At Aptar we remain optimistic for the market, but there is no doubt that we’re experiencing a period of uncertainty.

What are the next steps for Aptar and Quadpack’s collaboration?

PAH: We’re exploring other options, such new formats. Iconic Woodacity is a 12.7 format, so why not experiment mechanisms in other diameters, or even pen formats? New gestures and opening systems for lipsticks are another area of research.

PB: Yes, in addition to traditional non-guided lipstick mechanisms, the narrower guided formats are doing well today, so that’s something we are looking into.

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