Visual and sensory elements can combine to deliver effective design differentiation in the luxury drinks sector, says PETER CONNER of Pollard Boxes…
The requirements for a luxury pack are well documented: it has to reflect the premium image of the product it contains and create a sense of expectation and excitement. In most cases, consumers will not get to handle or experience the product until after purchase, so the pack has to create that initial positive impression that encourages its selection over rival products on display.
Certainly this is the case for one highly competitive sector of the luxury market – premium drinks. Unless there is in-store sampling, there is no opportunity to taste a drink before purchasing. And even eloquent product descriptions generally depend on the pack being taken off the shelf so that consumers can read all about a drink’s special qualities or production processes.
There is another, more specific, challenge when it comes to designing a luxury drinks pack. While there is room for some creativity in the bottle design, bottle sizes are universal and generally fit a common footprint. For the rigid box manufacturer, the creative scope is even more restrictive, with boxes having to conform to standard sizes and designs – oblong, square or round – so as to maximise the use of available shelf space.
Nor must it be forgotten that the box has another important role to play in delivering effective product protection, so that the bottle itself and the drink it contains remain in peak condition.
The focus for luxury design for boxes is therefore very much on decoration in terms of attractive graphics and high-quality printing and finishing techniques. And it is the effective combination of both graphical and technical skills that delivers the best pack solutions.
Printing effects that help to achieve impact and on-shelf presence include spot UV varnish, hot foil stamping, thermal embossing, lamination, special silk screen finishes and the use of foils.
One example of high-impact decoration is the use of print embossing and de-bossing to create a raised area on a box that helps to give the impression of a separate label. Techniques such as thermal embossing and micro embossing can help to produce extremely detailed graphics with excellent sharpness and clarity.
Just as important, the selection of the right materials can also add a vital sensory element to the pack when it is handled. This then becomes part of the ‘opening experience’ that reassures consumes of the appropriateness of their purchase.
Advanced production techniques enable boxes to be manufactured to extremely fine tolerances, producing robust and reliable packs with defined edges and tidy turn-ins. This both projects a quality feel to reflect the image of the products the boxes contain, while at the same time offering the durability of construction that delivers the right level of protection.
Effective protection can also be delivered by the use of items such as poly blocks and vacform fitments to create a frame in which to house the bottle. These types of features further increase the overall rigidity of a pack. At the same time, as well as ensuring that the bottle is held in place throughout its time in the pack, this also means it is effectively presented to the consumer on opening. The sensory experience can then be further enhanced by the use of specialist materials, such as paper with a soft velvet or sparkle finish. New multi-sensory technologies include the combination of different textures for contrasting touch and feel, or the use of scents.
UP THE EXPERIENCE
The opening experience can be made even more special by creating an element of excitement. For example, the
product can be revealed through a number of stages such as a series of layers before the product is reached, or inserting a booklet or tasting notes. Decoration can also be used to create this effect by providing a distinctive contrast between the outside and inside of a pack – subtle exterior colours, for instance, can be combined with brighter metallic effects inside that generate excitement and surprise as the box is opened.
Effective luxury design for the drinks sector therefore involves more than structural considerations. Using a variety of finishes and decorative effects can deliver the sort of eye-catching appearance and quality ‘feel’ that ensures that one luxury drinks pack is not just like any other.
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