Packaging and the New Luxury Perception

New consumer expectations are driving change amongst even the most established luxury brands – and an awareness of our rapidly changing world is now even more critical for packaging designers working in the luxury packaging sector today.

So what’s driving this change and how exactly is it impacting premium packaging design?

Packaging and the New Luxury Perception

Social Media and E-commerce

The rise of social media has seen an unprecedented opening up of the global luxury market to a far wider audience. With luxury items filling newsfeeds and Instagram streams, more consumers are far more ‘clued in’ to the luxury experience, bringing with it rising expectations.

Equally, with the boom of e-commerce, brands have had to play their part by focusing on packaging as a means to recreate that tactile, physical retail experience at home. Social media ‘unboxing’ trends, with countless influencer posts dedicated to filming the unpacking of a particular product, have worked to place additional focus and importance on the packaging of products. 

“With affluent consumers increasingly shopping online, providing an engaging memorable ‘unboxing experience’ that plays to their senses is now a vital role for luxury brands,” says LB Odendaal, Head of Design at IPL Packaging.

Packaging and the New Luxury Perception

Growing Environmental Concerns

Last year’s Criteo ‘Shopper’ study (conducted amongst 500 consumers), decrypted perceptions and expectations of packaging in the luxury world. A significant 81% of survey respondents reported they were sensitive to environmental messages, with the same percentage saying they could turn away from a luxury brand if the packaging proved to be non-respectful of the environment. This was of even greater concern among the under-35s, where the percentage reached 89%.

For consumers, environmental criterion must implicitly be part of the ‘luxury purchase’ experience, with nearly all consumers (97%) believing it is up to luxury goods manufacturers to take action to ensure the eco-responsibility of packaging.

“What this means is that the ‘luxury’ consumer ultimately wants to remove thinking about the environmental impact at the time of his purchase,” says Odendaal. “In 2020 and beyond, respect for the environment must be an integral part of the product and service, and brands have a growing responsibility to integrate the environmental dimension in the design of their packaging.”

Packaging and the New Luxury PerceptionImages: Weavabel and Gucci Equilibrium

The ‘Less is More’ Luxury Phenomenon

“An example of a brand at the forefront of luxury packaging for the new age is the Apple Corporation, supplying their customers with sleek, and predominantly recyclable and sustainable packaging where the high-end quality and allure of the product shines through,“ comments Odendaal. “Brands such as Apple have really re-written the rulebook on luxury, with sparse and minimalistic design now projecting an image of quality and status – and tuning into an increased need to declutter and simplify our lives.” 

“And, whilst Apple is by no means the only global brand to do this, such a large corporation making minimalism and simplicity not only a goal but a realisation has paved the way for other high-quality luxury companies to follow,” states Odendaal.

“From custom papers, and fabrics, to stock materials with customised processes, luxury and prestige is now typically a matter of restraint, not excess and this current trend of minimalist design and discreet luxury will only increase in the post-Covid era, espousing the complete opposite of flaunting logos and unnecessary embellishments,” he says. “Straightforward, easy to digest, high contrast designs that clearly and simply make a statement will continue to be a trend for some time.”

Packaging and the New Luxury Perception

Personalisation

Personalised luxury items were born a long time ago, with this aspect of branding and packaging design being seen as a valuable way to build better and stronger relationships with customers. 

But luxury buyers are also now digitally savvy and need to be engaged with personal experiences across their customer lifecycle, whether engaging and inspiring with personal content and exploration of a brand, interacting with personalised offers, or receiving customised or personalised packaging.

Packaging and the New Luxury Perception

“Personalised packaging is now being offered by many leading brands, with consumption peaking during gifting occasions, like Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Whilst not a luxury product, Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaigns featuring bottle labels carrying common individual forenames, remain a well-known example of a major brand applying customisation to create a more personal connection with its consumers. Coca-Cola has sold more than 150 million of its personalised bottles!” says Odendaal.

“Premium drinks and spirits manufacturers have gone down that road by enabling consumers to add text via a website to engrave either the bottle or its outer packaging,” he says. “A number of premium brands, particularly within the Scotch whisky sector – such as Glenfiddich, Glengoyne, Gordon & MacPhail – now offer personalised labels, mainly for gifting purposes, with individual messages. Whilst new web-to-print ordering systems also allow for this in industry sectors such as jewellery and confectionary, and many more.”

“In one particularly special example of personalisation, IPL designed and customised a special gift ‘case’ for Sterling Vineyards, the official wine partner of the 69th annual Emmy Awards (2017). Each bottle gifted to individual Emmy Winners was a special, personalised keepsake that also featured a stainless steel removable and magnetic name plaque, specifically engraved with the name of each winner,” states Odendaal.

“We’ll be seeing more and more personalised touches being to the entire buyer and brand advocate journey, purely because it is one of the most effective ways of making a product unique and, at the same time, satisfy the requirements of today’s luxury consumer,” he explains. 

In closing, as the old saying goes, change is the only constant. The leading luxury brands of the future will be those who successfully recalibrate their brands, and indeed their packaging, in response to changing notions of luxury and new consumers’ expectations and, importantly, without diluting their core values.

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IPL Packaging is a global luxury packaging supplier with offices in the USA, Europe, Mexico, Asia and Africa. Approved manufacturing is available in several Asian countries, as well as sites in Eastern Europe. We create bespoke, tailored and exclusive packaging for any premium or luxury brand and manage the entire process, from conceptualisation and design to production and delivery.

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