Delphine Bromberger, L'Oréal’s director of packaging innovation skincare, perfume and hygiene, reflects on the urgency of sustainable innovation.
Most observers in the luxury market predict the end of throw-away packaging: what is your view?
This area is a strong focus of research at L'Oréal: we are working to transform the pack into a lasting object. This may mean an overall move upmarket with products that come in boxes meant to be kept or with eco-designed refills. Combined with the new possibilities of personalization, refilling and recharging are a good way to reconnect with the very essence of luxury. In masstige, we must ask ourselves how best to create something unique with an everyday product.
Will bulk and new Loop-type models be transferable to luxury markets?
Bulk requires more effort from the consumer and can be seen as a constraint. The challenge will be to ensure that it is no longer a constraint by transforming it into new types of rituals. The staging of new customer experiences still needs to be invented, but simplicity will be an imperative: we’ll need to rely on simple, valued and rewarding actions. I believe that new scenarios in retail will have to be put in place, but as the shopping experience is an integral part of luxury, I’m skeptical about a transfer of the Loop-type system to our markets.
Is it possible to innovate without taking into account the ecological facet?
This is a given and it is urgent: in mass as in luxury, tomorrow's packaging must be responsible from the sourcing to end of life. We are activating different levers depending on each brand, but the goal is the same: to accelerate sustainability in at all phases of the cycle and our specifications have all been adapted in this direction.
Which areas of research are you looking to?
In Innovation, we’re very interested in what’s happening in the food industry. L’Oréal is currently working on alternatives to plastics: breakthrough materials that we will first integrate into cosmetics and, more precisely, materials that are not currently used in the segment.
For many, the packaging of tomorrow will be increasingly interactive and connected.
Perhaps, but digitization must bring something concrete—if it remains at the gadget stage, it will be of no interest. At the moment, connected packaging is actually more brand- than consumer-centered: it is time to change course, to go beyond its promotional nature to provide real services to the consumer: how-tos and tutorials, safety, traceability and support (audio rather than printed instructions for seniors for example), functions that are useful in everyday life, such as geo-tracking refill points, for example.