Luxe Pack Monaco 2008 certainly lived up to its name, welcoming record numbers of visitors as well as showcasing the very latest innovations in luxury packaging. Emma Reinhold reports.
Set against the glamorous backdrop of Monte Carlo and the French Riviera, it is not difficult to see why Luxe Pack Monaco is a perennial favourite amongst the packaging industry. Organisers and exhibitors had initially held their breath after reports of disappointing visitor numbers for the uncharacteristically subdued TFWA show just a few miles away in Cannes, which ran concurrently with Luxe Pack Monaco, but their fears where allayed as record numbers of visitors packed the 21st edition of the event. And perhaps it was this added luxe factor that helped draw visitors in a climate where, as a global recession looms, trade shows as a whole are experiencing a squeeze on exhibitor and visitor numbers.
“The feedback from exhibitors is that they are seeing a decrease in volume generally and we do fear for 2009,” admitted Luxe Pack general manager, Nathalie Grosdidier. “We are very pleased with the show so far but we need to take measures now to overcome any eventual problems. The luxury sector is well positioned to weather any recession crisis but that is not to say there are not any problems. The challenge is to answer the needs of our visitors.”
Despite this the luxury packaging sector put on a show of determined optimism. According to organisers Idice, 2008’s Luxe Pack Monaco attracted 6,478 industry professionals, a growth of 5.83% on 2007’s event. International luxury brands were particularly well represented; 54% of visitors were international, while the remaining 46% were registered as French. Some 63 different countries were represented at the event, which also attracted 320 exhibitors.
Running alongside the main show was an extensive conference programme, which covered topics as diverse as sustainability and imaginary trends. Central to the programme was the Luxe Pack Trends Observer workshop, which returned for a third year. This year’s workshop focused on three trends – Renaissance, Double Agent and Hands
On – and attendees were divided into small, informal groups in which they met panel experts to discuss the trends.
Other highlights included the Pan European Design Association’s annual congress, which was held during Luxe Pack Monaco for the first time, and outlined the overall view of luxury and sustainable packaging development, as well as focusing on more high tech solutions. In addition, designer Marc Rosen chaired a roundtable discussion on the theme Glamour, which explored its meaning and a prediction of what glamour will represent in the future.
WEATHERING THE STORM
Unsurprisingly the current difficult economic climate dominated conversations on the show floor. Many companies admitted they had not sent their usual quota of staff to the show, instead opting for a paired down team. The anticipation from both visitors and exhibitors was for a challenging ride ahead, and one that not everyone will weather successfully.
“Those brands that have high end prices but are not actually high end products will be affected,” commented Christophe Stalen, vp sales & marketing, Valois. “Consumers are not stupid – they will check what they are buying. It would be a mistake to try and cut corners on the packaging of a luxury product because the consumer wants what they are paying for.”
Designer Dieter Bakic added: “The more expensive products may be hit as what becomes more expensive becomes less affordable to consumers.”
“Some suppliers will be affected, that’s to be expected,” agreed Nathalie Bringant, general manager, Maesa. “But our customers all say that at the moment it’s business as usual. Let’s try and be optimistic.”
And optimistic exhibitors were, with new packaging solutions gracing many booths. Catering for customers’ shrinking budgets was a particularly popular theme and a number of exhibitors launched full service packaging concepts, which were claimed to offer value for money.
DieterBakicEnterprises (DBE) introduced a new Mix & Match system, a comprehensive stock packaging range, featuring closures that fit any DBE packaging. The new line is said to offer a cost effective packaging solution as well as providing a short lead-time for products. “This is a recession friendly solution – customers don’t have to invest a lot as they can buy a ready made solution,” said Bakic.
Alcan also promoted its full beauty solution – packaging and formula – with its Innovation Club, a concept fronted by Alcan Packaging Beauty’s creative director, Michele Limongi. The club focused on user-friendly make-up solutions, with a particular focus on applicators.
“Consumers are not looking for a good product – they know they are available on the market. They are looking at how to use them, the method is very important,” explained Limongi.
New concepts included the Banana Maker, a make-up applicator developed to create definition on the eyelid; the Trilogy and Quadrilogy guidance palettes, which offer eye and lip formulations and a variety of brush ends; a Fan Brush Compact, featuring a brush designed to follow the contours of the cheekbones; and the Compact Workshop, a step by step make-up lesson in a compact featuring three eye colours and three applicators, which can be made into full sized brushes with a snap-on handle.
“Why should applicators be an add-on in a make-up compact? The problem with so many products today is not the formula or the colour, it’s the tools and the lack of education on application,” said Limongi.
The Innovation Club concept was very well received according to Dalila Safir, director communications, Alcan. “People are really interested by the diversity of what we are offering this year and we have been really busy.”
FINDING AN ALTERNATIVE
The trend for environmentally friendly, sustainable packaging has carved out a strong market in the packaging sector and the show floor was awash with eco-friendly alternatives to traditional packaging materials.
HCT Packaging for instance created a make-up palette for the Urban Decay brand made from bamboo, as well as working with 100% Post Consumer Regrind (PCR) cardboard for packaging concepts with Virgin.
“Sustainability is generally accepted now and we are looking at it in a left field way,” explained Rebecca Goswell, group creative director, HCT Packaging. “We have been disappointed with biopolymers so we are looking for other materials such as MDF bond with organic binders. We are also experimenting with PET because the popularity of plastic does not look like going away. We want to go down this route and replace all our stock jars with PET.”
Goswell also highlighted the importance of developing packaging that can be recycled. “In Europe people are very aware of Ecocert certification and how a product can be recycled so this is a good route to follow.”
Newcomer Maesa also highlighted the importance of ensuring your business lives up to its environmental credentials. “Sustainability is the key word in packaging at the moment,” said Bringant. “Customers want new fabrics, recyclable materials – it is almost a given now. PVC is not really used at all and customers don’t really ask for this now.
Sustainable packaging has found a natural synergy with natural and organic beauty products, and exhibitors were keen to promote this link. BCM France, the only contract manufacturer exhibiting at the show, introduced a number of additions to its Biorganic organic personal care and cosmetics range.
“The idea behind the range is to illustrate our know-how in organic formulation,” said BCM’s sales and marketing director, Marie-Christine Clerc. “All products have been manufactured in accordance with Ecocert and we can now offer manufacturing and filling capabilities. Our factory in Brittany has also been organically certified.”
New products include a deodorant containing organic peppermint oil to cool and soothe; Bio Demaque cleansing balm containing organic grape seed oil and nectarine oil; and a number of new organic colour cosmetics.
“It’s not easy to formulate organic colour cosmetics – you have to forget the past and work in a new way,” continued Clerc. The colour cosmetics range includes a lip gloss, available in 18 shades, a foundation, which promises a transparent finish, a lengthening mascara and a concealer with brush.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
Providing additional packaging benefits was a popular theme with exhibitors and innovations to enhance C&T packaging were in plentiful supply.
Valois launched Elixir, a new fragrance pump described as the smallest pump available on the market. The tiny dispenser measures 9.9mm or 13mm for 100µl and features a fine spray and soft actuation. The pump also eliminates any contact with metal or elastomers, helping to protect the product inside.
“This pump will give new ideas to designers in a fragrance market where it is very important to be different,” said Stalen. “There has been a lot of interest already as it is truly unique in the market.”
Size was also important for Rexam, which launched Sof’n’Cap a new sampling mini dispenser for lotions and other prestige skin care formulas. The bottle, actuator and cap are all customizable in a large range of colours and printing techniques and has a dosage of 50µl.
Newly rebranded MWV (formerly MeadWestvaco) also focused on attention to detail with the launch of the Podle. The product is a 25ml pocket sprayer featuring a special Twoclic locking system that locks the spray in place, making it suitable for purse or bag sprays. The product can also be custom decorated.
“Our idea is to offer customised products to the customer – the market requires this and we are responding,” said Sandy Gregory, marketing director, MWV Calmar. “The Podle represents a solution for everyday problems and helps our customers create their brands.”
MWV also presented Natralock, described as a high impact security solution. The paperboard packaging is said to use 50% - 60% less plastic than average clamshell packaging and offers manufacturers improved on-pack graphics as there is no plastic covering on the paperboard. The product itself is protected in a clear bubble that is said to be virtually impossible to tear apart by hand.
“The response to our products has been very good,” said Gregory. “We have seen more people than last year and they are the right people. I think it is very important to protect the image of this show – it’s not about numbers it’s about who is here. Here you are getting the top decision makers.”
“Creativity and innovation give you an edge in this industry,” commented Jean-Paul Imbert, Cosfibel’s newly appointed president. “Being different from the other guys at the show is key as it helps you reach the customer.”
With this in mind Cosfibel introduced a range of boxes featuring a patented opening system. Boxes included a music coffret box, which when opened plays a musical tune. The box was used by BPI’s Jean Paul Gaultier brand for its Christmas 2008 gift boxes.
“Just adding something like music brings fun to packaging design which could be very ordinary,” said Imbert. Other novelties included two new stock lines – P-R-O and Crystal Sharp – which are said to address the needs of make-up brands.
Luxe Pack Monaco once again proved why it is the leading luxury packaging show and despite the very uncertain economic climate, the show was hailed as a success. Next year the task will be to build on this but Grosdidier was only too keen to reflect on what makes the show stand out from the competition. “Only here do you get all the luxury packaging companies under one roof,” she said. “And only here do you find such creativity, inspiration and packaging designers. Luxe Pack is a reflection of the market and I hope it will continue to reflect packaging trends and make them more visible.”