What to look for in high-end packaging

Published: 17-Oct-2016

An overview of standout trends and launches from Luxe Pack 2016

In the October issue of SPC, packaging industry experts discussed what luxury beauty packaging meant to them in 2016. All noted that it was the fine details that help create the perception of a premium product. Half a millimetre here, a more muted click there, a discreet security detail – all serve to reassure the customer that the product they are on the cusp of buying will, indeed, be worth the extra money.

When looking for luxury beauty packaging trends, Luxe Pack Monaco is a great place to start. The event returned for its 29th edition to the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco from 21-23 September. This year’s edition was notable for its focus on the latest digital enhancement, as well as exhibitors’ in-depth research into consumer usage, resulting in solutions carefully crafted to optimise the end-product experience.

Connected packaging

Both anticipating and reflecting the ways in which digital technology is disrupting and progressing the luxury packaging industry, Luxe Pack Monaco organisers launched a new event-within-an-event for 2016. Connect to Luxury, or C2L, comprised 23 exhibitors and a dedicated C2L conference, which took place on Wednesday 21 September.

“We decided to launch this area because of requests from brands,” Nathalie Grosdidier, Deputy Managing Director of Luxe Pack, told SPC. “They want to know more things about connectivity for three reasons: connected packaging can help traceability, anti-counterfeiting and security, which is important, but it also helps with the supply chain and more and more there is CRM [customer relationship management], which is the link with the consumer. There are now so many possibilities with RIFD [radio-frequency identification], NFC [near-field communication] and other tools.

“We also launched this area to enable packaging manufacturers and high tech companies to work more closely work together,” she added.

Exhibiting as part of C2L was Belgian company Selinko, which specialises in digital solutions connecting products to the Internet of Things. At the event it showcased its NFC tags, which can be read using an NFC smartphone and a mobile app.

Selinko’s Gwennaelle Festraets, a partner in the company, explained that it was set up four years to fill an (as then) unmet need for anti-counterfeiting concepts that allowed consumers to check the authenticity of wine.

"Connected packaging can help traceability, anti-counterfeiting and security, which is important, but it also helps with the supply chain and more and more there is CRM."
Nathalie Grosdidier, Luxe Pack

“NFC was growing and at the time it was being used for mobile payment, which, of course, required both security and consumer access,” she said, explaining: “A chip is integrated into objects to create a unique digital identity for that product. People can then ‘tap’ the product with their device and be directed to a website for consumer engagement, or to an app.”

Like Grosdidier, Festraets noted that NFC is being used more and more for CRM, and, as such, most companies preferred to link the technology to an app, “which means you [the brand] can get [consumer] data”.

She added that the technology lets you offer consumers a broad range of information and brand-enhancing experiences, such as how-to-apply videos, product information, INCI list access, and the ability to rate and dialogue on products via social media.

Hot stamping foil specialist Kurz had two booths at the show: one on the main floor in Hall Diaghilev and another in Hall Atrium as part of C2L. It offers optical security components ranging from 2D holograms to its high-security Trustseal technology, which uses a process separate from commercially available holography, combining up to 13 features, including surface relief, lens effect, matte effect and mirror.

It is also involved in brand enhancement, offering hot-stamped logos or holographic images that are machine-readable for brand communication, counterfeiting protection and enhanced attractiveness.

A newly launched company with a very busy both at Luxe Pack, meanwhile, was Phone Me. A newly launched NFC concept, Phone Me is based on a unique algorithm that enables the collection of consumer data without the need for an app – making it a world first.

Benefits include the ability to track product purchases globally, to see who is buying what and where… but also to track usage, for example, the time between purchase, opening and re-purchase to get a better idea of how your consumers are using your products.

Top trends
The Luxe Pack trends observer takes six experts from the packaging industry – Régine Charvet-Pello, Hugues de Jouvenel, Sylvie Marc, Béatrice Mariotti, Marie Rouillon and Stéphane Truchi – and asks for their pick of the most influential trends. This year, these were:
1. Frugality: A caring and rewarding take on frugality with clean lines, shapes and cuts, and using quality materials, such as ceramics, sheet metal and rush weaving.
2. Compulsive: Bringing lightness and frivolity back into packaging design, ‘Compulsive’ combines patterns like polka dots and flowers with bright tangy colours.
3. Imprint: The use of deep and sober marking that is bordering on the archaeological. Sandblasted, hammered and crackled materials and heavy weighting lends products an artisanal, elemental feel.

End-user interaction

Minute adjustments to packaging parts can elevate a luxury product above increasingly eye-catching mass-market competitors. So, more and more, suppliers are asking the opinion of the end consumer in order to refine their offer.

At Luxe Pack 2016, RPC Bramlage, for example, introduced an airless pump for cosmetic products called Miss Bliss. It uses RPC Bramlage’s patented bag-in-bottle AirFree system, which can be manufactured in one single operation and which allows for a contact-free and lightweight airless pack.

“It’s a smart pump. In the sense that it has been thought through to the last detail,” said Delphine Roux, Marketing Manager at RPC Bramlage. “We have done focus groups with end-consumers to know what exactly would be the perfect pump.”

According to Roux, the shape and design are Miss Bliss’ most important attributes. There is a finger intent, which has a comfortable-to-use concave shape and the pump’s angle mirrors the natural angle of the consumer’s trigger finger. Even the smooth ‘peach skin’ finish – as close as possible to the texture of skin – was designed to provide the most ‘natural’ user experience.

WestRock likewise built its research into tactile interactions altering the consumer’s initial impression into its Aria Luxe pump, also launched at the event. The company studied what consumers in Paris and in a fast-growing tier-two China city (Chengdu) defined as luxury, looking across different consumer age groups and different product segments.

The subjects were told to touch, see then trial products with different pumps and provide feedback. In France, a shiny metal or metalised pump was felt to denote efficacy, while in China consumers preferred a ‘warmer’ satin metal finish. Therefore, the Aria Luxe is available as a fully metallic pump or with a metalised finish. Likewise, an intuitive finger groove was overwhelmingly preferred, so an indent is built into the pump’s plastic parts and into the metal overshell too. Those studied cited control as being important, as well as the way the product comes out, with a ‘dollop’ being preferred to a ‘worm’. Both factors were taken into account when designing the Aria Luxe, which has an easily controlled stroke and which comes in two different nozzle sizes. The slightly longer nozzle is said to be ideal for liquid make-up, where a shorter nozzle can risk making a very visible mess on the bottle, but it is not so long as to risk breakage.

Additionally, features from the original Aria pump that tested positively, such as WestRock’s metal-free ‘Pure Path’ technology and secure locking system were incorporated into the new Aria Luxe.

What to look for in high-end packaging

A fragrant gesture
Aptar beauty + home first announced its Note fragrance applicator to the world in 2015, but since its launch the concept has been exclusive to Dior J’adore Touche de Parfum. Now, however, Aptar is offering Note to its other customers too. Note features a transparent applicator that automatically fills itself with a drop of fragrance each time the cap is removed, enabling the user to apply scent with a timeless, intimate ‘dabbing’ gesture; think Marilyn Monroe applying Chanel No5.
“We are starting to push to our customer that there is not just one road to apply fragrance – not just spray; there are several roads depending on the fragrance they have, the concentration, the story they want to build around,” Patrick Bousquel, Director, European Market Development, Beauty at Aptar, told SPC.
Note is especially recommended for eaux de parfum, elixirs, absolutes, intense perfumers and extracts, all of which have come back into fashion. Also ideal for such formats is the new Melodie Touch sprayer from WestRock, which provides a small spray for discreet, targeted dosing. As such, it is also ideal for touch ups. Another new sprayer from WestRock is Melodie Mystery – it offers the same prolonged, sensual, fine spray that is a feature of the Melodie line, but with a more targeted, focused application than the other Melodie options.

All about eyes

Applicator manufacturer GEKA has been working with trend intelligence agency Beautystreams on trends for autumn/winter 2017-18 and at Luxe Pack showcased its ‘Blaze of Glory’ concept, based on Beautystream’s findings.

The concept is inspired by the ‘cosmopolitan elite’ and the proposed products reflect a glamorous, trendy nightclub atmosphere.

The concept includes curlQueen, a fibre mascara brush combining GEKA’s EOS 2K fibre (which has a stiff core and soft exterior) and its SEPA technology for wedge-shaped fibre tips, as well as precisionLINER, which consists of 19 delicate micro bristles for smooth eyeliner application.

What to look for in high-end packaging

The star product, however, is softSECRET, a moulded mascara brush created using a patented technology called ‘sandwich’.

“The whole brush has a hard core for stability, to penetrate the lashes, separate them nicely and to avoid clumps,” said Julia Kiener, Head of Marketing at GEKA. “At the same time you have the soft bristles – so it does not hurt if you accidentally touch your eye.”

GEKA said it can now offer all its customers this new stock model brush.

Details include extra thick bristles in staggered rows and zig-zag shaped bristles for an extra upward push of lashes.

Rounding off the ‘Blaze of Glory’ concept is beautySTYLIST, an option for lip gloss, whose design allows for the creation of thin and thick lines for better definition.

The golden opportunity
Oils continue to be a trend in hair, skin and body care, as well as fragrance, but the ‘pain point’ for consumers can be applying a product that can be greasy and/or watery. It’s little surprise then that exhibitors at Luxe Pack were offering dispensing solutions for this popular but tricky galenic. Aptar Beauty + Home premiered The Oil Workshop, using technologies including new pumps Oilmist, a soft modular pump to control an ultra thin mist, PZ Lark, a soft pump for highly viscous hair care.
Among the novelties from Hoffmann Neopac, meanwhile, was Stylo, which comes in Liner and Pipette variants, both of which are designed for meticulous application. The Pipette version is said to be suitable for applying oils, as well as serums, anti-ageing formulations and brightening tooth gels.

Digital wow

Advancements in technology were not confined to the C2L area of the event. Several booths were enhanced via the use of holograms, for example, with one of these exhibitors, Albéa, boldly debuting its first ‘digital’ stand with no physical products on display. 

Albéa stressed its credentials as a digital company at Luxe Pack through three different types of digital animation: the recently launched Albéa Connect app, which lets the company’s sales team access all information about Albéa from the palm of their hand; an animation app from YouCam Makeup, which lets the company digitally propose to its customers the make-up effects that its packaging can help create; and, most importantly, Albéa’s Mix & Match Tube configurator, launched at the 2016 show.

"Albéa stressed its credentials as a digital company at Luxe Pack through three different types of digital animation: the recently launched Albéa Connect app; an animation app from YouCam Makeup; and, most importantly, Albéa’s Mix & Match Tube configurator, launched at the 2016 show."

“It’s an amazing new tool, because, for the first time we can allow our customers to design their own tubes. It’s available from our website and we’ve just launched it here,” said Christine Gichuki, MarCom Manager at Albéa.

There are two ways to enter the configurator: a client who is certain about what they want can build a tube from scratch, while someone looking for guidance can pick from a selection of concepts. The tube’s material, diameter, capacity, sleeve material and dispensing system may all be selected – and each time the user makes a selection they are presented with another set of options to refine their specifications. Customers that already have their artwork, meanwhile, can upload it for a 3D rendering.

“At the end, once you have finalised your design, you can recap all of the specifications then send a request directly to our sales team. It’s like a very, very precise brief regarding what the customer wants; it’s where the digital can help us in our customer relationship,” said Gichuki.

At present, the concept is just for Albéa’s tubes, however, Albéa is planning on rolling out the same tool for dispensing systems and other product lines in 2017.

Safely wrapped up
The main aim of the UK’s Essentra at Luxe Pack was to showcase the capabilities of its Design Hub of graphic and structural designers through innovative ‘Lotus Pack’ boxes (pictured). But the company was also keen to demonstrate its options for product security. “We know the issues around counterfeiting and bogus products in the supply chain and we’re seeing more and more interest in what we can do to support the beauty and cosmetics world,” said Rupert Taylor, Global Category Manager, Health Care & Personal Care at Essentra.
One underused but effective solution for fragrances, in particular, Taylor said, is the tear tapes within the overwrapping, which also makes the experience of opening a fragrance less frustrating for the consumer.
“A brand owner could use colour shift ink on the tear tape, which makes difficult to replicate,” he suggested. “They could even have [traceable] taggant ink applied to the tape. This allows the brand owner to check the supply chain, not only to see whether the product is genuine, but because products can get diverted into a different market for a different price by a different distributor – so you can go back and say: ‘this product should be shipped here, but it was shipped to here, so that agent is doing something naughty’. You can start tracking back through the supply chain.”

A premium shade of green

A perennial highlight of Luxe Pack is Luxe Pack in green, comprising a showcase, roundtable and awards ceremony. The award now comes in two parts, rewarding outstanding CSR and eco design separately, providing “an opportunity to highlight all these efforts from the packaging manufacturers that are hidden”, according to organizer Grosdidier.

This year, Albéa won the CSR approach category for its 2020 road map, which lays out the objectives for all group personnel, along with projects involving clients, suppliers, installations and communities, with strong and collective objectives and commitment.

The Luxe Pack in green eco design prize, meanwhile, went to Italian glassmaker Bormioli Luigi, for its Ecojar, which is 50% lighter than an average standard jar of equal capacity, but made from the finest quality glass.

What to look for in high-end packaging

Bormioli Luigi’s Spirits Division Manager, Federico Montali, talked SPC through the process, which draws on the company’s heritage and expertise in both the perfumery and tableware sectors.

“The Ecojar is made using a technique that is typical for making tableware, like wine and tumbler glasses. For perfumery [glass] we use blow moulding; but while all our competitors in perfumery use only this process, we also use the tableware process and have used this to produce Ecojar,” he explained.

“The process for tableware creates pressed and blown glass, and pressed glass means that you use a plunger to create a shape and thickness that is not formed by air but by metal. The thicknesses are exactly controlled and can be as thin as is mechanically viable and safe.”

The pending patent for Ecojar involves the addition of a threaded neck on a pressed and blown pack – a unique feature. During tableware manufacture the material is cut off to produce the wide mouth typical of drinking glasses. However, as Montali said: “In this case, we don’t cut the top off, we shape it to be exactly functionally like a jar neck.”

Round and square jars in 30ml and 50ml options will be available as standard from the first half of next year, and Montali explained that clients could customise the weight if they wanted a lighter but not necessarily a half-the-weight weight pack: “If you want a bit of lightweighting, we can do this. Everyone is looking for eco compatible, but on the other hand they want the weightiness because it means luxury, so there is a compromise they need to find. But there is no compromise necessary for the glass quality.”

Bormioli Luigi was also showcasing a new way of gluing glass onto glass inside the bottle using a special vitrified glue that is resistant to perfume, whereby the “glass sticks to glass with a glass layer between them”.

This review has covered just a selection of the many launches from exhibitors at Luxe Pack 2016. Other innovative packaging solutions introduced at the show will be featured on p101 of the November issue of SPC, and more still will be featured in the Marketplace segment in future issues.

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