Is this the end
of PR Packages?
I just finished up watching a video by Canadian Beauty Youtuber Samantha Ravndahl. She's decided to cut off her POBox entirely from PR, no longer wanting to be sent packages from brands updating her with the latest products. And I felt I had some things to say on it.
Things need a shake up
It's an interesting one and a big change from the lavishness of previous years of beauty packages. But I feel this is all going to grow in conversation due to the rise in our individual and collaborative search for sustainability. It's also something I have been thinking about for around 3 years now. I too have been making changes behind the scenes along these lines. Whilst I don't wish to cut off all PR parcels entirely, as there are a number of brands I adore and work with repeatedly, I have taken steps to contact the PR teams who send me wonderful gifts from brands that I do not use, no longer use anymore or do not necessarily enjoy to the same extent. And I feel the whole industry is in need of a shake up.
I also want to state early on in this post, that no parcel I receive has ever been taken for granted and I am thrilled beyond belief that I am at a stage in my career where I am sent some truly incredible gifts and products to review, daily. I am beyond thankful for each and every one. I just feel some tweaks may be needed going forward.
Recycling and Packaging Wastage
For a number of years, the amount of product wastage, and even more so, packaging wastage, has not sat well with me, and I've felt so much guilt for just how much cardboard I'm recycling and plastics I'm throwing away. I remember as far back as my first flat in London nearly four years ago, when I would answer the door more than 10 times a day to receive beautiful parcels. The packaging wastage was huge, often with tiny, hand sized items packaged in 50cm boxes and streams of bubble wrap and plastics. Even three years ago I felt overwhelmed and immense guilt for just how much packaging I was throwing into bins.
In my previous flat, we had to fill recyclable bags and sit them on the front step to be picked up twice a week. The amount of boxes I was receiving and therefore the amount of recycling I was leaving outside, led to one of our neighbours complaining about us. It also meant that my tiny flat had an area where we just had to leave boxes in and it took up a few metres of space. I know boohoo for me right, but in a tiny London flat, having mountains of cardboard mounting up is too much for anyone. And I just felt guiltier and guiltier every day.
And since a few years back, I have been cutting back on PR send outs for this reason.
What I do with all of the products?
On top of packaging wastage, product wastage can also be excessive when you're sent items in abundance. I only have one face, and I don't find products I absolutely LOVE and add to my everyday face, all that often. I have products I like, others I use regularly and others I use daily. So if a new product comes along, I do a number of things:
- If I can tell I'm not going to like the colour or use it, then it goes immediately into a charity bag. This bag is collected at Gleam and goes to a Women's Domestic Abuse charity every week. But I have also recently given huge parcels of products to London Hospitals for very ill patients and I have donated to WigsforHeroes - a charity who again donates beauty items to ladies going through Cancer treatments as a way to boost their mood and self esteem. I donate a lot of items, especially as I am often sent the entire lipstick line or foundation line. Personally I feel a more personalised approach to each individual parcel for each blogger, is definitely necessary. And, I have received a number of fantastic emails in the last year, from teams asking whether I'd like the whole range of shades or not - and it's much appreciated.
- If I think I might like the product I'm sent, then I swatch it. If I like it enough, I'll add it to my makeup collection for future usage - this consists of everything inside my makeup desk. In the past I used to have makeup in drawers in other rooms, and it got to the point where nothing was getting used because I didn't have the time to look for things and forgot about them. So recently I did a huge clear out and got my makeup collection down to my three desk drawers only. That means that I'm now even more selective with the items I actually keep as they have to be good enough to sit alongside the items I have kept.
- If I swatch something and don't like it enough, it goes into my friends/family bag. Whenever a friend speaks of a product they need, or when I go home to see my Mum or family, I take extra items with me for everyone as gifts.
- And other items that are really suited to me, I will start to use regularly to try them out, and will then feature if I love them enough. But there will always be product wastage, as there are just so many new products to try, and items I was excited to try last week may be replaced by a newer, similar product that's even more perfect for me.
But keeping that wastage to a bare minimum is what I'm aiming for. Which is why I have contacted most of the PR teams that I know, to ask them to send me press releases first. And if I can see a product I'm super interested in reviewing, then I'll call it in, rather than being automatically sent it. It saves money for the brand, it saves packaging, it saves delivery costs and it saves product wastage. I would urge all other bloggers to maybe do similarly if they feel the same.
I do have my favourite brands though, which most avid Inthefrow readers will know of, and I tend to be most excited for their latest launches anyway due to my loyalty and adoration for them. These brands often courier the items directly to me when they know I'm in the house, which again saves on missed packages, oversized packaging and I know exactly what I'm getting and when. I have also mentioned to so many of these PR teams now too that I prefer as minimal packaging as possible. So I am making changes when it comes to all of the other brands who send me gifts regularly.
In all, I just want my intake of products to consist of items I know are going to be showing up on my doorstep, rather than being a surprise, and items from brands that I consistently use, love and I'm happy to feature. So it's interesting to see large Youtubers talking about this, in the hopes to have a more sustainable method of product usage, similar to my own thought process.
Are Packages getting bigger or smaller?
Honestly, I feel that the packaging items are sent in are actually a lot less OTT this year than they have been previously. I've received tiny foundations before that were boxed in 1 metre x 1 metre boxes that then need to be thrown away. Items tucked inside metal boxes, inside huge wooden boxes, inside massive pieces of cardboard or boxes brimming with bubble wrap, plastic air bags and little pieces of polystyrene.
And truly I must admit, that from maybe 2013-2016, having brand teams send out some really spectacular boxes for products was extremely fun and exciting. I still remember some of the coolest packages and gifts I ever received, as they were really well thought out and must have cost a fortune to create. And I'm so thankful for each and every one.
But I feel in 2018 and going forward, big changes are needed and I think a lot of brands have already caught onto this. I've definitely noticed a recent shift. I personally would love just a recyclable bag or tiny recyclable box that perfectly fits the product inside. With minimal tape used and no plastics inside. Almost like how Amazon package their products with no plastic tape used at all. I also feel that consumers and followers are becoming a little desensitised and fed up of seeing continuous PR hauls and products in lavish displays, and if the blogger isn't sure either, I feel we might be at a point where it is no longer needed.
I honestly think that going forward we are going to see parcels become less lavish, less OTT and PR teams being more selective as to who receives them. I have noticed a number of the comments all over the Internet about certain brands and their continuous send-outs, and the way it's negatively affecting the way consumers feel about their brand. If every blogger and their Mum is receiving the same items, it just saturates the space a little and doesn't have an exclusive feel that perhaps it could have.
I'm been thinking about all of this for such a long time, and I'm almost glad for watching Samantha's video today for encouraging me to vocalise it. It's a huge part of the beauty industry, and journalists have received gifts for years. Then with the birth of blogging, those gifts became more apparent when we all feature them in excess in Youtube Hauls and on Instastories. And whilst I am unbelievably grateful for each and every gift I have ever been sent, it's more that I feel some slight tweaks could make it more environmentally friendly, less excessive and far less costly.
- Reduce packaging to the bare minimum and make sure it is entirely recyclable. Down to the bag handles if possible.
- Send the product without fuss. At this point I don't need a flamboyant beautiful package, as amazing as they are. I would personally prefer the product inside a package of almost the same size.
- Stop automatic send-outs and make them tailored, limited and selective. Ask if the blogger is happy to receive.
- Ask the receiver whether they want/need the item. And what colours and items of a collection they may prefer. Just to save on huge send outs of every colour and therefore huge wastage.
I also realise that one size doesn't fit all, and some bloggers work very differently to me and like to feature all brands and all price points. So fair enough if continuous products works for you. But for the majority, it just doesn't work anymore and I feel a personalised approach to pr parcels is essential going forward.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this as a blogger or as a follower. How do you feel about PR hauls or excessive showing of products on stories. Or as a blogger, how do you personally feel the industry could change?