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The many shades of success

The PlantLove™ collection, by Cargo cosmetics, makes women look good on the outside with its 12 sheer and glossy lipsticks and feel good on the inside because they are buying earth-friendly packaging. This approach helps differentiate PlantLove in the competitive cosmetics market. It wins the approval of retailers and the loyalty of customers.
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“Today people make their voices heard through their purchases,” says Hana Zalzal, Cargo’s president. “That’s their way of voting or protesting. They want products that they can feel good about. The feel-good message from the PlantLove collection, I believe, was responsible for this product line becoming the most successful launch in the company’s history.”

PlantLove botanical lipstick is environmentally friendly, containing no mineral oil or petroleum derivatives. The lipstick case is made entirely from the corn-based-plastic PLA manufactured by NatureWorks—the first such lipstick case on the market. The outer carton is constructed with recycled paper embedded with real flower seeds. Customers simply moisten, plant, and wait for a bouquet of wild flowers to grow.

For the relaunch of Cargo’s lipstick line, Zalzal wanted to innovate. “I thought, wouldn’t it be great if we used a renewable resource for the case rather than a petroleum-based product.” She began by researching the availablity of bioplastics. Consulting faculty members at the University of Toronto, her alma mater, she learned more about PLA. She contacted NatureWorks and liked what she saw—a PLA-based case would be greenhouse gas neutral and potentially compostable. Working with NatureWorks and an injection molder, Cargo was able to develop an attractive PLA case indentical in cost to one based on a petroleum resin. She believes that in the future bio-resin costs will be lower than other plastics due to rising petroleum prices.

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Zalzal conducted extensive research on available earth-friendly materials for the outer carton before discovering the flower-seed paper. It took Zalzal two years to go from inspiration to final product. She thinks companies would benefit from more easily available information on the evironmental impact of various materials and from supplier directories. She says, “Research was a long process. If I could have had all the supplier listings and lifecycle information on materials in one or two places that would have been outstanding.”

Cargo was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response from retailers during product line previews. “This was the greatest reception from retailers any of our collections ever received,” Zalzal said. “Buyers were thrilled not only with the innovation we showed them, but also with the positive feeling generated by the PlantLove collection.”
Customer enthusiasm matched that of the retailers. Zalzal believes that consumers are not generally aware of alternatives to petroleum products. She says, “The question I am most often asked is why aren’t more companies doing this. I believe the answer is that companies are waiting to see whether they can be successful with earth-friendly packaging before they invest in development.”

Zalzal already knows the answer—help a consumer feel good about his or her purchase and differentiate your company and products. And by the way, Cargo donates two dollars from the sale of every PlantLove lipstick shade to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Zalzal says, “The PlantLove seeds we sow today affect future generations, so we are investing in the environment and in our children for the future of the planet.” The challenge for Cargo competitors, any company actually, is to craft a feel-good product, package, and message that rings as true.


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