Luxury is a wide-ranging term but packaging is the common denominator in creating the right image for a product, explains PETER CONNOR of Pollard Boxes…
How do you define luxury packaging – by price or by perception? Of course, the two are inextricably linked when it comes to the purchase of high price goods, where consumers expect the pack to reflect the quality and premium image of the product. However, ‘luxury’ can mean many different things to many different people. A box of chocolates may be a frequent purchase for some consumers and an occasional special treat for others. This ‘treat’ element is a key reason why the term ‘luxury’ can be so wide-ranging. Being able to indulge ourselves without breaking the bank is one of life’s little pleasures.
Personal care products are a perfect example of this. These products also tend to do particularly well in uncertain times, when consumers are more likely to hold off buying expensive items and instead console themselves with smaller treats. This so-called ‘lipstick effect’ has its origins in the depression years of 1929 to 1933, when industrial production in the US halved but sales of cosmetics rose. Nevertheless, this trend has continued into modern times. Earlier this year, for example, the head of John Lewis said that while sales of ‘big ticket’ items were down on last year, ‘spontaneous’ categories were holding up well, with beauty product sales up more than 7%.
Packaging plays a vital role in achieving the appropriate image for all types of luxury products, helping to create premium branding and
on-shelf appeal. There are no fixed rules for the best way to create these but it is important to remember that a pack does not always need
to be bold or brash to attract attention. More than anything, it has to be instantly recognisable and in line with overall brand image. Very often this can mean incorporating the logo as the main focal point of the packaging design. The Jo Loves branding, for example, uses a subtle red spot under the logo on an otherwise pure white box, while the GHD logo creates a high quality appearance through the use of fluted foiling.
The selection of the appropriate materials is equally essential. Well specified papers and boards are far more important than gimmicky design features. A square box and lid made with quality materials and incorporating appropriate print finishes will always create a far more premium appearance than a shaped box made from low grade materials. Low price point items may need the gimmicks but these are not for the established brands.
With the growth in online sales, packaging’s ability to encourage trial and attract consumers so that they pick up a product may be less relevant but it nevertheless still has a valuable role to play in the buying process. While online marketplaces enable manufacturers to provide more information on the product itself and the benefits it will bring to the end-user, the actual purchasing process can be very sterile and lacking excitement.
For this reason, online retailers are increasingly recognising that they need to create an ‘opening experience’ for consumers on receipt of
their goods, which confirms the wisdom of their purchasing decision. The use of tactile materials – for example multi-sensory technologies that combine different textures for contrasting touch and feel – the incorporation of scents, well-designed artwork that maximises the impact of print finishes, and special effects such as spot UV varnish, hot foil stamping, embossing, and lamination therefore all remain vital factors in the pack design.
Creating a sense of excitement is also important. Chocolatiers have used ‘reveal’ packaging very successfully for many years, but this is now being picked up for many other products, including drinks and personal care, as part of a premium or luxury image. At the same time, no sector of the luxury market – whether focused on an indulgent treat or a high-end product – is immune to cost pressures and competition. For pack producers, ease of manufacture and loading are likely to become an increasingly critical part of the design brief, with a major focus on automation at every stage of the operation.
LAY ON THE LUX
Luxury packaging is a vital factor in helping to create the ‘feel good’ factor. For brand owners, key to success is well thought out packaging that can combine innovation and shelf stand-out to reflect and enhance overall brand image, while still being cost-effectively produced to meet the specified price point.