At last week's Luxury Packaging Conference in London, a select group of industry leaders discussed the changing shape of premium and prestige packaging for a new era of tech-immersed, brand-savvy, global consumers.
Heritage was cited as a key theme among many speakers. Bruce Langlands is director of food and restaurants at luxury London department store Harrods. He described how returning to its own back catalogue of products for a range of packaging inspired by traditional designs from the late 1800s to circa 1940 has been highly successful for the brand.
Laurence Koutny is international innovation director for Belgian chocolate brand Godiva. She revealed how the brand has embraced collaborations with European designers to re-emphasise its geographical heritage, and subsequently boost its relevance to the highly sought-after, confectionery-obsessed Japanese market. The company worked with Spanish product designer Jaime Hayon in 2012, and French illustrator and textile designer Natalie Lété in 2013.
Clare Negus, global design leader at British multinational alcoholic beverage group Diageo, said: "Luxury is evolving, but certain codes and attitudes remain the same. In the global marketplace, heritage is now vital to establishing a sense of gravitas and a great platform for innovation – an opportunity to reinterpret your archives."
Global travel retail (GTR) was another hot topic of debate, with Koutny divulging that tourist consumers ("the souvenir business") are now a core part of its target audience. This allows Godiva to catch the vast numbers of consumers on the go as they traverse airports, but also to maintain relevance with a younger market that isn't usually aware of its stores.
The brand now has a total of 22 versions of its 'destination' boxes, each of which specifically references the city of the airport it's found in. "A key part of the premise of designing the souvenir 'destination' boxes was to attract a young audience with unusual standout and a sense of playfulness," Koutny explained.
Stefan Casey, business innovation manager at UK research agency The Retail Institute (part of Leeds Beckett University), discussed the wider need to invest packaging with more engaging sensorial cues – noting that "in the UK, 83% of commercial communication is for one sense only: the visual".
Bearing in mind that as we age, the senses dull in the following order: hearing, sight, touch, taste and lastly, smell, Casey suggested smart brands dealing with more mature consumers should consider recalibrating which sensorial aspects of their packaging they choose to amplify.
He also referenced the increased use of scented packaging materials by brands such as UK fashion retailer Oasis as a way to connect the physical and online retail experience. It's a connection that's becoming increasingly important, as deliveries become a crucial first brand touchpoint.
According to Grant Montague, vice-president for Europe at international packaging research business Perception Research Services, stated: "Seventy-one per cent of global consumers online expect a higher quality of packaging when buying online than in a physical store, with 75% saying they are likely to buy online again when delighted with a premium purchase."