It’s easy to know luxury packaging when you receive it in the mail — perfectly branded tissue paper, clothing that isn’t wrinkled and cosmetics that don’t shift in shipping — but not many understand the process behind it. A brand’s identity hits a customer right when they walk into a store or visits a website and should last until the person opens the purchase they either brought home or had shipped to them. This includes branding from the inside out: from the point-of-sale displays in the store, to the gift box, tissue, garment bags, and branded corrugate that the item is shipped in.
We came up with three cues that describe the design and packaging process of luxury products to make sure brand expectations are always met.
Brands and their packaging are closely linked. Luxury brands spend millions building their brand image through every channel and packaging is no exception. This brand image is supported through the traditions, qualities and heritage of the brand. For the consumer, if the packaging doesn’t support the heritage of the brand, then the time spent building a lasting brand image could be wasted. Whether the item was purchased from a website or the physical store, consumers expect a consistent experience from time of purchase to when they unpack that purchase. If the product they purchased is delivered and fails to meet the brand image they initially received, then the consumer’s perception of the brand can be damaged. Consumers can sense brand heritage and quality through the package structure, detailing and layering, giving them a sense of authenticity.
Luxury products require a well-designed unveiling process to build suspense up to the final reveal. Opening a box and revealing the final product wrinkled up in a ball or damaged isn’t something a luxury consumer wants to see. But, when the product is packaged using the proper materials and branding and, as a result, arrives in perfect condition, the process affirms their expectations and that will leave a lasting impression. Often, luxury items arrive at their destination damaged, wrinkled or missing items that may have been lost during shipping. To ensure proper delivery of these high-priced items, special care must be taken prior to and during shipping to allow the consumer to experience the full unveiling process. Poor packaging has been known to increase buyer’s remorse and product return rates by providing an opportunity for purchasers to reevaluate their purchases.
Luxury brands must rely on their employees or packaging company to ensure that each time the customer receives a purchase that has been shipped to them, the packaging is consistent and reinforces the standards of the brand. Retailers should invest in both the aesthetic and functional aspects of their packaging as a way to convey the luxury experience to the customer. In fact, when it comes to what’s important for overall satisfaction with a product, consumers rank packaging almost equal to the brand, according to MWV’s Packaging Matters study. No matter how well your brand communicates luxury in photographs or in the store, how the product arrives to the customer is what matters most.
We know that human decision making is primarily emotional and is made based on expectation, and shopping is no exception to this rule. Heritage, anticipation and quality control are the three cues used in the packaging process to meet luxury consumers’ expectations and encourage future purchases from a brand.