SoftTouch


The heart (or maybe the skin) of luxury packaging is the custom wrap material. From plain paper adorned with digital print to exotic textures and patterns meant to replicate snakeskin or cheetah spots, the appearance of a box is first and foremost the eye-catcher. I like to think of the custom box material as the first line of advertising. If you can’t stand out on the shelf, how are you going to compete at the brick and mortars?

Tactile and Tactical

If the look is the first line, the feel of custom packaging is the second. But this tactile phase in the retail battle is arguably the most important. There’s something about actually holding a product that really turns things up to 11.

I used to work at a big-chain retail store. We’d often had “contests” which were more like daily sales goals for a specific product. If it was some sort of plush or pillow, I knew it was game over. All I had to do was hand the product to somebody, let them walk around the store with it, and by checkout time, they just had to buy it. Why? Because you just can’t help grow attached to something you’re holding onto. But if you don’t have a sales floor extraordinaire like myself hoisting your product into the empty arms of consumers, then you have to go for the next best thing: the two-punch combo of attractive and tactilely-pleasing packaging. The custom box that you just have to pick up, and that you just can’t put down.

Sure, it all boils down to the product within, but you can’t deny the power of a first impression. It’s just as true for luxury packaging, if not moreso.

Packaging manufacturers are always looking for the next big trend in materials, textures, wraps, and designs. And we love a good challenge. The old “form follows function” has given us some very distinct/cool/practical/innovative box designs. But inventing a texture is even trickier. A recent story from Packaging Europe tells the tale of a how a company’s request for a very specific paper lead one of the oldest paper mills to create one of the newest trends in packaging.

Are You Swayed by Suede?

James Cropper, a “luxury paper” company, was asked by Spain-based LOEWE to create a paper with a feel of suede for their new product packaging. Carvetian Suede–so named for James Cropper’s historical stomping ground–is a textured paper that mimics the feel of suede. Not only does it feel like the classy material, but it improves upon it by being biodegradable. James Cropper uses at least 40% recycled materials to create this exotic custom wrap.

Carvetian Suede custom wrap material by James Cropper

Maybe you don’t have to wrap your box in suede, but the lesson here is to always be mindful of your product packaging. The luxury in “luxury packaging” shouldn’t be mistaken for frivolous or exorbitant. What it’s really about is showing your customers you believe in your product, that you value it. And, perhaps more importantly, that they will too.

Image: jamescropper.com