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IPL Perspectives:

Glen Broomberg & Esté van der Merwe

This month we spoke to our Head of Global Business Development, Glen Broomberg, and our Senior Graphic Designer, Esté van der Merwe, for our IPL Perspectives feature.

A hot topic we’re often faced with in the packaging industry is the difference between luxury and premium, which can often come down to an individual’s perception. This is why we asked Glen and Esté to share their unique perspectives on the topic, relating to their different job roles:

In your opinion, what qualifies certain packaging solutions as ‘luxury’ vs ‘premium’…and what do you see as the differentiators between these packaging segments?

Read their responses below.

Glen Broomberg | Head Global Business Development

Sometimes it’s really a hard ask to separate the terms ‘premium’ and ‘luxury’, most especially for brand owners who would like to believe their premium brand fits into a luxury category. I think, for me, a lot of this is driven by WHO the customer is, WHAT the product is and WHERE it is positioned in the market.

Premium products are those that are seen by the consumer as being of a top-level quality and comparable to other category leaders in that space. They generally cost more than average and to justify this, they need to be superior.

From a Packaging point of view, they also need to therefore “look nicer” so the consumer believes the product is differentiated and worth the premium price.

Luxury items, however, can often be viewed on their own, and surrounded by less ‘noise’ or ‘clutter’ in terms of potential similar items in their space. Luxury is the step above and, more often than not, the packaging we design for these products reflects this in the final execution.

Buyers purchase luxury products almost always for emotional reasons or those to do with prestige. Therefore In the world of ‘luxury’ packaging, details and visual impact matter tremendously.

It all starts with choosing the right substrate. Different materials excel at different things, of course.

The key luxury brand (and by extension, packaging) challenge: to create a credible status symbol and differentiate from other products that are just as desirable, sought-after or luxurious.

All products however, need to sit on shelf and stand out as unique. For us as packaging suppliers (and for our design team) this comes through in creating extraordinary differentiation, whether this is for the premium or the luxury space.

One of the most important aspects of getting this right would be to ensure that branding marketing teams and the packaging supplier (incl. product management and design teams) are on the same page about the product positioning!

Esté van der Merwe | Senior Graphic Designer

When tasked with a request for secondary packaging the first things to consider are BRAND, PERCEPTION and CURRENT COMPETITORS.

As designers, we need to effectively convey brand identity through all aspects of the packaging, not just create something aesthetically pleasing or that simply delivers from a functionality standpoint. This requires an in-depth look at all those details that ultimately bring the pack and brand together.

The difference between ‘Premium’ vs ‘Luxury’ comes down to a delicate balance. I feel the differentiation is through the ‘message’ the packaging sends to consumers and how this is conveyed. ‘Premium’ packaging does so with a strong sense of ownership, there’s, of course, real purpose in what materials are chosen, which latch or fitment is used (i.e. a custom latch taking inspiration from the logo, for e.g.)

The devil is not always in too much detail though. Seemingly simpler, more minimalistic looking packs can appear more premium than those featuring multiple foils, emboss, varnishes or UV inks. Premium design is decisive and clever – utilising the full arsenal at a designer’s disposal but, at the same time, always taking into factors such as cost and remaining true to the brand’s sustainability objectives..

‘Luxury’ is a different mindset. Here we are often tasked to create packaging for a product that is regarded as exclusive, limited edition or even ‘one of a kind’. The packaging needs to reflect this exclusivity through use of materials or substrates of the same nature. With the ideal packaging substrate, structure, coatings and finishes, you will impress high-end buyers and stand out from the competition.

A 50 year old whiskey is rare, worthy of materials that seem like they have aged with the product. With these more limited pieces, packaging materials such as solid wood, glass, metal inlays and leather finishes can often be used to demonstrate superior quality.

In a nutshell, creating ‘premium packaging’ is about working smart, exercising enough restraint to compete with other market leaders but not over-capitalising on the packaging. ‘Luxury packaging’ starts with a luxury product and the packaging must differentiate it and reinforce its value. Sophistication and that ‘something special’ is expected when exclusivity is on the table and the packaging needs to underpin the fact that the product is worth its price. It’s also essential to bear in mind that more and more luxury consumers are aware of waste, and so sustainable (yet luxurious ) materials play a vital role in this segment too.

In the instance of both premium and luxury brands, it’s important that both consider design changes once in a while. Even though luxury brands often have fewer competitors to worry about, it’s still possible for loyal customers to grow tired of the same design cues. Maintaining the same identity and values is important, but it’s still advantageous to add creative energy to a package to generate renewed or continued interest.



Each month we ask our “Perspectives” features a few questions to provide you with a little more context and insight into their job roles as well as themselves.


My job is to enhance and develop relationships globally with key clients, old and new, finding opportunities and developing these with our sales teams, creative teams and the clients’ own internal resources.

I get up every morning between 5:30 and 5:45, make a cup of coffee and then spend the first hour of my day responding to various emails from clients or our teams and also reviewing any web enquiries that have come through that portal.

Definitely the office! It always seems to contribute to better efficiency without being distracted by the comforts of home.

To be more measured and patient and recognize that everything takes time. It’s that part that sometimes frustrates me…the time it always takes to do things.

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Glen Broomberg
Esté van der Merwe

ESTÉ van der MERWE

I am a Senior Graphic Designer who specialises in visual communication in secondary packaging. I find ways to translate client needs into feasible and functional packaging concepts that deliver on the consumer, design and brand levels.

Strong coffee (a big cup too) – then a verbal catchup with the team. Creatives are a community and we celebrate that by challenging each other and our ideas. Devil’s advocate is a happy role we play to suss out any potential problems in our packaging designs. A thick skin is a necessity in this line of work!

I enjoy both. I like the weekly round table with the team, it’s a good stimulus and enriches concepts and helps put ideas into perspective – or helps you bin the ones that just never would have worked. At home I get the opposite as I also enjoy the hours spent unravelling a creative thread down to the last mm with no distractions.

I would love to write children’s books, then illustrate them as well. I love storytelling and do that through my job daily – but to live on someone’s little person’s shelf as a favourite author would be a hidden dream come true!

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