Wind back a few decades and shopping was all about a) being able to find what you need and b) whether or not you could afford it. Today, in a world where many have disposable incomes way greater than any previous generation, purchasing is as much about the experience as the actual product being bought.

This is where packaging plays its part – and in no place is this more important than in the luxury goods market. But before we get to the presentation, let’s first determine what the term luxury means when it comes to packing products.

Why Luxury is All About Gratification

Luxury means expensive, right? Actually, this isn’t necessarily the case. While it certainly doesn’t apply to bargain bucket basics, the term can be applied to any product that aims to gratify the human need for satisfaction.

Luxury brands bring this by targeting multiple human senses.

To understand this, we need a quick recap on our five major senses: sight, touch, sound, smell and taste. While most packaging concentrates solely on sight, higher-end products take multiple senses into consideration. It’s not enough to simply catch a consumer’s eye with a considered colour palette and a great logo. Luxury product packaging needs to be an experience in its own right, building anticipation right up to the moment when they handle the product itself.

The 5 Golden Rules to a Luxury Packaging Experience

You only need to take a look at some of the world’s most famed luxury brands to understand how they approach presentation. From Apple’s unwrapping experience through to designer brands such as Dior and Gucci, decadence is apparent from the outset.

The following discusses the 5 ways to bring such opulence to your packaging design.

Golden Rule #1: Make it a Journey

Packaging should illicit suspense – in other words, the unwrapping experience should heighten anticipation. Creating an air of exclusivity through the unveiling process is key – the reward being that the product should only be viewed by the purchaser. This can be achieved in many different ways, perhaps through ribbon seals, tissue paper, pull tabs, tactile inserts… The goal of this interactive journey is the final act of contact with the purchase – a realisation of the buying goal.

Golden Rule #2: Utilise Multiple Sensory Aspects

All packaging combats the human sense of sight. While many producers spend effort and money on this alone, luxury product packaging satisfies far more. What does the unwrapping experience sound like? What does it feel like? Is there the gentle sound and soft touch of crinkled tissue paper? What about a satisfactory pop as a lid is opened, or the unmistakable soft hiss as you raise the carton of that brand new iPhone?

Known as audible branding, the lower the pitch and the more subtle the sound the better. With luxury brands, you’re certainly not attempting to mirror the noise made by cellophane or plastic that are associated with cheaper products. The use of heavy card and paper create the sounds that increase the perception of luxury, hence their popularity in packaging high-end brands.

Targeting the olfactory centre (your sense of smell) is also an option being explored by some luxury brands. While adding a scent might not be possible for all consumables, for many this is an area that’s worth exploring.

Golden Rule #3: Less is More

Luxury tends to be understated. By this, we mean small, unobtrusive logos, simple designs and careful use of colour. While a single strong shade can be a brand statement, multiple or OTT brightness are more common at the cheaper end of the market. Think elegant and minimalist – the key points for luxury brand packaging.

Golden Rule #4: Make the Unpacking Experience Pleasurable

We’ve already mentioned that luxury packaging hides the product from inquisitive eyes. It’s solely intended to be enjoyed by the purchaser. However, unpacking the product should be a smooth process, one that serves only to heighten anticipation.

To understand what this means, consider the ‘pile them high, sell them cheap’ philosophy that puts products on full display in plastic blister packs. You can see what you’ve bought but the process to unwrap them involves much effort. Luxury packaging offers an opposite experience.

Golden Rule #5: Don’t Forget Practicalities

Luxury packaging still needs to be up to the job. It needs to protect the product, display the product and still present the luxury consumer experience. This is where working with a professional packaging design service is essential. Not only can they advise on aesthetics, but they provide expertise on the materials needed to best represent your product.