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March 30, 2023

Upgrading the ‘basic box’ to deliver luxury packaging without the price-tag.

Studies have shown that aesthetic design decisions increase the chance of creating an engaging packaging experience for any business or brand. However, whilst luxury brands typically prefer the option of a premium or luxury box, a higher budget put towards the packaging of the product can make certain brands hesitant.

So what happens if you simply do not have the budget to design and produce more expensive premium packaging, but are still looking for a packaging solution which presents a luxury appeal to consumers?

“It’s about creating perceived value,” says IPL Head of Design, LB Odendaal. “This plays heavily into the unboxing experience and the impression your packaging makes on your customers.”

“There are ways to create affordable yet premium packaging without necessarily utilising more costly materials, processes or fitments.”

“Normally, options such as embellished, paper-wrapped rigid board or MDF boxes typically require more expensive setup costs, more design and development time, rounds of sampling, as well as skilled labour, to develop them for optimal results. Though production costs vary depending on the structure and material of your box, it is these factors that impact higher pricing for certain packaging substrates,” explains Odendaal.

How does one take a ‘basic box’ and present it to appear more luxurious – without implementing additional costs?

A pack created using carefully selected mixed materials, a fabric simulating paper wrap, paper wrap, foil detail, selective spot varnish and wood bottle fitments. @iplpackaging

“However, if you’re a small-medium sized brand looking for customised packaging, and with a smaller budget than your competitors, you’re not confined to the routes mentioned above,” he says. “You could instead opt for less costly materials such as folded cartons, corrugate cardboard, or reduced material options in greyboard and wood. These still offer an array of structural design options, an ability to customise style and structure, as well as numerous printing and finishing capabilities – and all at a lower price point.”

“Not only are there sometimes more affordable options that can be ‘upgraded’ with the right design choice or clever decorative finishes, but they are often also more eco-friendly and can be stored with more ease due to foldable or flat-packable features,” he says.

The sustainable, flat-packable Aber Falls whisky pack. Minimal colour and print application achieved through soybean ink and embossing. @iplpackaging

“Once the substrate and design of the outer pack have been selected you can address other factors such as:

  • Minimising the materials and processes to significantly reduce overall costs…(and, if a single material can be used to produce the entire pack you have struck gold!)
  • Use of graphics, printing methods, paper choices and embossing and debossing as cost-effective decorative and detail elements.
  • Adding spot coatings, integrated closures, removing magnets and adding unique die-cuts are the final touches in creating premium but cost-effective packaging.
  • Opting for other treatments that can help enhance, highlight, and lift the design. By including an embossed feature or another tactile element, you further engage the consumer’s senses.
  • Selective foil use is another element that can increase the perceived value of a pack and the way that light interacts with the box design.

Selective foil usage introducing a luxury element to this series of packs. @iplpackaging

  • Whilst print techniques, and paper choices that simulate materials such as wood-grain, leather and cork replace more expensive materials and yet still convey a luxury appeal.”

Cork veneer laminated onto a paper backing and wrapped onto a rigid board box. @iplpackaging

“A further way in which to minimise costs but still retain an upmarket, high-end pack appeal is to reduce, or simplify the fitments that hold the product (be it a bottle, wristwatch or special coin). Aesthetic choices can be made in fitment design for little or no extra cost which, if well considered, could add greatly to the perceived value of the product.”

Different fitment designs create interesting and varied aesthetic appeals and can upgrade a box in a subtle, effective manner.

“With luxury packaging, often the most effective design strategy is to keep it simple or, as Dieter Rams said, ‘good design is as little design as possible.’”

“Luxury brands don’t often require loud and vibrant colours or images to compete for attention. By keeping the packaging design simple but paying attention to the fit and finish (it’s all in the detail), it’s possible to do something special,” states Odendaal. “Just look at iPhone packaging, it’s simple but stylish and effective and consumers love it!”

“As brand owners increasingly aim to entice consumers with the ‘everyday luxury’ of premium and luxury packaging, they must also pay careful attention to the latest trends such as sustainability and minimalistic design. In this way, they strengthen their market share by capitalising on ‘just-right’ packaging materials and design formats. Sometimes this means stripping things back to basics to create clever, cost-effective luxury packaging that remains memorable but resourceful – and even reusable.”

For more information on packaging solutions or to gain insight into our latest packaging trends, follow us on LinkedIn, or join our community of packaging enthusiasts by signing up to our monthly newsletter below. Keep an eye on our news section for insightful articles and innovative ideas around packaging materials, product development and design.

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