Essential Essence

Stuart Pritchard November 24, 2017




API’s Commercial Director, Richard Burhouse, discusses how the best foil, laminate and holographic solutions for luxury packaging should be perfectly attuned to the essence of the brand…

Packaging is one of the most valuable marketing tools available to any brand; get it right, and you’re halfway to success. This, of course, is because most purchasing decisions are based not on a dispassionate assessment of one’s needs, but on emotion. When packs both stand-out visually and convey the essence of the brand, they are more likely to be chosen by shoppers in a crowded retail environment. Ensuring the packaging speaks to consumers is, therefore, essential, and investment in enhancements and embellishments – far from an unnecessary expense – is central to delivering sales success.


In a recent study by Package InSight at Clemson University, packaging foil and laminate enhancements were shown to have a powerful

API work with brands from the beginning to build up a deep sense of the brand’s essence

effect on people’s purchasing decisions. The study saw 70 participants fitted with calibrated eye-tracking glasses, which recorded their eye movements as they selected luxury chocolate products – some foiled and some not – from a shelf. The results were clear: the participants looked at the embellished packs more often, looked at them for longer, and were more likely to buy them.

A further, qualitative segment of the study then shed light on why the participants had favoured the embellished chocolate packs. Among the responses were: “The gold foil portrays a more high-end product,” “It gives it a more premium look and shows their attention to detail,” and “It just says ‘fancier.’ If I am looking for fancier chocolates, I look for fancier packaging.” It is clear from these responses that shoppers are not attracted to foil embellishments indiscriminately – rather, they tend to associate such effects with a particular type of product, namely luxury. Thus, foil works best when it communicates the essence of the brand effectively, and doesn’t jar with the customer’s pre-existing perceptions.


Understanding the brand is key, and this requires packaging designers and suppliers to work closely with the brand owners from the beginning of the development process, building up a deep sense of the brand essence and what makes it unique. It is this understanding that shines through in the final pack, helping to give it the x-factor that will make it stand out.

And this is just one way in which designers and suppliers strive to ensure solutions are always tuned to the specific brand in question. Developing the perfect packaging solution also requires knowledge of the latest design and packaging trends to ensure the product is truly relevant to its consumers. API’s annual Trends Folio, newly updated for 2018/19, contains the key packaging drivers identified by our global development network throughout the year, using their expertise in technology, categories, and brands. Such a reference book can form a key part in the design and decision making process and demonstrates how a business can act as a creative partner to brands, providing them with the latest trend knowledge and expertise to further their strategic development and develop the desired packaging solution.



The value of understanding the brand and the latest industry trends is exemplified by API’s work with Taittinger, and specifically, our

Eye-tracking technology can be employed on test subjects to
see what elements of design attracts them

creation of a dazzling diamond effect for a Taittinger gift box that represents the glamourous image of the brand.

Inspired by the 2ND SKIN trend – identified in the API Trends Folio – for packaging that is an authentic and flawless extension of the product it contains, the diamond effect provided an evolution of the champagne bubble effect seen on previous Taittinger gift boxes. The pack uses holographic and fresnel lens technology to portray the natural beauty of diamonds in precise detail, and the sophisticated visual effect synchronises perfectly with the tactile nature of the print and gift box materials to convey the luxury essence of Taittinger champagne in a way that is guaranteed to attract consumers in the retail store.



In a world in which 95% of all new products fail, it’s clear that one of the best ways to make the successful 5% is through packaging. By understanding the brand, every part of the packaging solution can be carefully attuned to the unique product personality and help deliver the impact required. Ultimately, at its best, a two-way street is then created, where the packaging ceases to merely echo the brand – and becomes an integral part of the product.