London Packaging Week: The packaging sector’s Capital curtain call

26 April, 23
Behold the enduring power of luxury — a sector whose resilience is undeniable.

Behold the enduring power of luxury — a sector whose resilience is undeniable.

Despite the economic gloom currently shrouding the UK and many other Western countries, sales of luxury brands are booming, especially among young adults. The world’s wealthy are enjoying a ‘Roaring 20s’ age of decadence likened to the boom in the post-war period a century ago.

Luxury goods firms are reporting bumper profits as the richest customers remain largely untouched by the economic crisis.

So, it’s little wonder that London Packaging Week (LPW) looks set for a stellar year. It will, no doubt, be awash with luxury architects dedicated to studying what drives the success of prestige brands.

From the finest fizz and Swiss watches to Louis Vuitton trainers and rare Birkin bags, the luxury customer’s decision process is unlike that of other customers. While emotion is important when selling any product, it is paramount when it comes to luxuries.

Packaging can play a serious and easily accessible role in helping prestige brands expand their reach while maintaining their leadership status.

Quiet luxury

Overt logos are out, and visual signatures — such as motifs or adopting certain colours — are in. Luxury brands are scouring the market to find those capable of creating a universally recognised visual language that sets them apart from the predictability of mass-market branding.

Demographic shifts have meant that the approaches for prestige brands in every category are changing. The younger, savvier generation is entering the luxury market, bringing new values and demands that will redefine the very meaning of luxury. Meanwhile, the psychology of luxury brands truly plays into high-value customer motivations; the shadow cast by the cost-of-living crisis has spurred a retreat into small luxuries, with consumers cheering themselves with mood boosters such as luxury lip balms, chocolate and coffee.

To resonate with this next generation of consumers, brands must develop substance beyond a high-quality product or a desirable logo. People are now more aware of environmental issues and want to align with brands and products, trying to make a change. They don’t just want a pretty product — they want to know the details and information.

While taking action on sustainability can be expensive, it is worth the investment when it comes to luxury products. Greenwashing won’t cut it ― brands must take issues like diversity, sustainability, and ethical production seriously.

Thankfully, LPW continues to identify the major forces and emerging trends that will reshape luxury over the next decade.

Packaging matters, and it matters more than ever. A well-thought-out and intuitive unveiling process will create suspense, mystery, and excitement. Packaging’s presence enables us to symbolically reproduce the moment of the purchase when the new object first passes through the hands of the consumer. From Cartier red and Hermès orange to Tiffany duck egg blue, the iconic typography of Moët & Chandon, Godiva, the instantly recognisable Rotary watch logo, and everything in between, packaging is an integral part of the customer experience. It prolongs the customer’s excitement but must also magnify the content. It must borrow the same luxury codes as the product itself.

However, as marketers struggle to break out from the clutter, luxury brand owners realise that visual systems have limitations. Truly great and memorable packaging utilises more than just sight – whether in the feel of a genuine leather case, the smell of chocolate released by opening a silky bow or sliding open the finest bottle of fizz from the carefully crafted wooden box, there is nothing quite like it.

In a world of disparate alternatives, consumers choose to express themselves with brand choices that reflect their values.

Luxury packaging should be something the consumer wants to keep once they have removed the product. There should be anticipation and interaction; the packaging should communicate your values and be exciting to look at, touch, listen to, and smell.

So how can you create a memorable and long-lasting consumer experience that makes multi-sensory integration?

Allow London’s vibrant home for packaging innovation and design to walk you through that immersive process, where the right materials and shapes are matched to the desired sensory cues that trigger a positive response in the consumer’s mind. From material research to manufacturing and finishing processes, the two-day, four-sector showpiece events are designed to help luxury brand owners leverage the potential that materials have to fine-tune the perceived value of the packaging design and, therefore, the brand.

More about the process than the attitude

In a field that heavily depends on aesthetics, the challenge for brands is navigating to a unique style that feels fresh yet remains authentic to their heritage.

Quite simply, there is no other exhibition or observer of the luxury industry whose insights are more useful, accurate and packed with smart predictions for the packaging sector. LPW will, once again, show that it understands the mindset that creates luxury’s timeless value.

At a time when the worlds of retail and luxury are getting over a period of unprecedented change, there will no doubt be a renewed focus on the new ideals that luxury will embody – inclusivity, a level of care for people and the planet that is both aspirational and essential; and a commitment to quality through sustainability and circularity.

Embracing sustainability requires luxury to follow a different path regarding creativity and transgression. Must it now, instead, submit to rules imposed from the outside, lose its characteristic mystique and embrace transparency?

While a well-made product can be passed down to younger generations, packaging must endure time. Perhaps, nowadays, the elements that require obsessing over are quite different.

Consumers expect so much more from brands than just physical products. Premium products, in particular, need to wrap service, meaning, and engagement around an authentic consumer experience, and digital and social media open up a canvass of possibilities.

Consumers know instinctively when they see a prestige box, minimalist design and discreet luxury are the order of the day. Brands are putting environmentally sensitive production, practices, and packaging at the centre of their business models. As more and more high-end brands look to retrofit sustainability with as little financial impact as possible, it is little wonder that it appears set to dominate agendas for the foreseeable future.

Registrations for attendees are set to open shortly. To register interest in visiting, or to enquire about exhibiting at London Packaging Week, visit www.londonpackagingweek.com today.

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