Paper Tubes with Unique Designs

Starting in April Kneipp will be trying out paper tubes for its “Intensiv Handcreme” in its own stores. And addressing customers via more individual packaging design. Philipp Keil, Head of Packaging Materials Management at Kneipp, sees great potential for the future in both.

The Kneipp brand celebrates its 130th birthday this year. Founded 130 years ago as a pharmacy in Würzburg, Kneipp is now a globally active, medium-sized company. The traditional brand stands for natural care products based on the holistic teachings of Sebastian Kneipp. It is therefore no surprise that the company also sets itself ambitious goals for the sustainability of the packaging it uses. For plastic packaging elements in particular, the company is working intensively on bio-based alternatives. After all, from 2025 onwards, no more Kneipp packaging made with plastic is to be put on the market.

In March 2020, Kneipp had already launched a new variant of lip care with a lid made of a biobased alternative to plastic. A further step towards the targets is now to follow in April 2021. In a limited edition of 2,000, the “Intensiv Handcreme” will then arrive in the company’s own stores in a paper tube. The tube is a test intended to explore various options for future packaging.

Partners Stora Enso, Permapack and HP Indigo

„I first heard about a paper tube from Stora Enso at the end of 2019,” reports Philipp Keil, Head of Packaging Materials Management at Kneipp. “We had samples sent to us and then looked at how they could be used. We liked that as an approach.” Keil then pursued the paper tube project with longtime partner Permapack. There were a number of challenges to overcome, for example in the sealing process, for which a number of things had to be changed. However, because packaging should not only fulfil its protective and transport function, but also provide something for marketing, HP Indigo also came into play in a further step or more precisely the HP Mosaic software.

The personalization software can automatically create a potentially unlimited number of unique graphic designs based on a fixed basic pattern. The graphic is varied by rotation, scaling or colour change to create ever new patterns. In this way, each tube becomes unique. “We had looked into the possibilities of more individual packaging design before,” says Keil. Now the packaging specialist remembered the visit by Nicole Ceccantini from HP Business Development for Brands & Agencies, who had suggested trying out the Mosaic technology once. So they came up with the idea of testing this idea right away with the packaging for the “Intensiv Handcreme”. “We want to use this packaging to learn,” Keil emphasizes. “How paper tubes work in processing and handling, how consumers accept such packaging – but also, precisely, what opportunities packaging offers for better customer communication.”

Being personally addressed increases in demand

“The design not only has an aesthetic aspect, but also has added value,” Keil emphasizes. On the back of the packaging for “Intensiv Handcreme” for example, a QR code is integrated. This then directs consumers to a website where they can learn more about Kneipp’s sustainability strategy. Firthermore: “We know from consumers that they like to be addressed more personally.” In this direction, he said, there is room for much more thinking in the future. “Why not, for example, packaging for which customers use their own pictures”, wonders Keil. In any case, he sees a clear trend toward personalization in the Beauty & Care sector.

The focus of the current test, however, is of course particularly about paper as a packaging material. The tube shoulder and the cap are still made of plastic. A thin layer of polyethylene provides the barrier. What about recyclability? “The packaging is not perfect yet,” says Keil. “But you just have to tackle sustainability now and get going.” It’s important to him to focus on more than just the recyclability of packaging. “Circular economy is important, but it’s not everything. It’s also about resource conservation, and here paper is simply better than plastic.” Moreover, the recyclables streams of the future could certainly make better use of such packaging. “New technologies do exist the question is who invests in their use.”

Who bears the costs when packaging is changed? “We think that consumers are now quite willing to pay higher prices for more sustainable packaging and thus shoulder at least part of the costs,” Keil thinks. “In addition, as a company, we don’t just see such projects from a yield perspective.” At Kneipp, he says, an index of very different factors is used for evaluation. Among them is the impact of an innovation on the brand. “And sustainability is definitely worthwhile for the brand.”