A generation ago, when a shopper meandered over to the makeup counter at a department store, she might have asked for a recommendation and bought a product without even opening the box. “You couldn’t even test it,” explains Rhonda Beveridge, VP of marketing and product development at Crystal Claire Cosmetics Inc. But that isn’t the case in 2019: “Nowadays, a customer walks into a store, sees something glittery or shiny, reaches over to touch it and feel it. It’s all a visual, interactive, visceral experience.”
Moreover, the world is faster now, and the shopper’s attention span is shorter. Products have seconds—at most—to make an impression. “Packaging makes up more than half the appeal of a product,” says Crystal Claire’s CEO and founder Roger Hwang. In 1992, Crystal Claire was importing perfume bottles, spray pumps and twist caps from Asia. But a bleak U.S. recession drove women to seek comfort in compact cases, mascara and lipsticks, soon shifting the company’s focus.
To meet demand, Crystal Claire opened a factory in Taiwan in 2004 (they’ve since relocated to China). Hwang expanded again by scooping up a bankrupt cosmetic filling company in Toronto. These days, Crystal Claire employs 3,000 factory workers on opposite sides of the globe, along with a few hundred designers, engineers, sales reps, customer service reps and office workers.
By offering comprehensive services, Crystal Claire’s team has made itself indispensable to just about every major makeup seller. An early big client was Revlon, followed by cosmetic giants L’Oréal, Estée Lauder, Maybelline, Lancôme and Avon. All outsource their formulae to factories around the globe, but only Crystal Claire can offer a one-stop shop to their clients. “In our industry, you do either packaging or product,” explains Beveridge. “We’re probably the only company in North America doing both.” The convenience offered by Crystal Claire is topped only by its speed and efficiency. The client brings a project brief—product, formula, function, desired clientele—to the Crystal Claire team, and by end of day, all that info has been sent to Asia, where a 50-person design team gets to work. By the next morning in New York, a customer can approve and finalize a 3D design, and samples are shipped. “We can do all of this, with the formula inside so they can touch and feel it, within 48 hours,” says Beveridge.
Offering lickety-split solutions means sourcing materials, formulating products, printing labels and designing packaging for about 30 new products each month—84 million units per year. They’ll be popping up faster than ever on a makeup shelf near you.