Gift packaging

10 December, 2012

(Image: Shutterstock)

Newborn super-rich

There is no denying the market for such creations, thanks to the world’s newborn and airborne super-rich. It is now commonplace in the sector to hear a day’s sales can quickly turn from bad to good with the arrival of a handful of Chinese travellers. And this is not confined to Asia. In Spanish travel retail growth was driven by the spending power of Russian, Chinese and South Korean visitors to the country’s major hub airports, reports Alexander Wiegel, joint chairman of the Airport Promotion Agencies.

With luxury spirits it wouldn’t be too cynical to say the price of the product is probably decided in the marketing department – the task of packaging, which is by no means a small one, is to justify the exorbitant price tag.

“If you were to try to sell such a product in a milk bottle you would be unable to communicate the rarity and preciousness of that liquid,” says Claessens’ Boulton. “Consumers who have the means want to be able to show off to an extent, so the gift packaging becomes even more elaborate to attract their attention.”

Luxury packaging is almost solely the preserve of brown spirits, but perhaps not for long. According to Diageo CEO Paul Walsh, baijiu brands have premiumised in recent years and the spirit is now the number-one selling SKU in Asian travel retail. “If you look at some of the baijiu offerings and some of the innovations, the packaging is gorgeous – it’s got huge potential.”

Diageo has picked its horse in market-leader Shui Jing Fang, so who knows, one day the £10,000 luxury product launch we read about could well be a baijiu.

Another traditionally under-premiumised, conservatively packaged sector is rum, but after 150 years in the business, Bacardi clearly wanted to break the mould. Its Bacardi de Maestros de Ron Vintage MMXII, which launched this year, pulled out all the classic luxury stops. A rare, aged rum presented in a hand-blown crystal decanter in the shape of El Coco – the coconut palm planted 150 years ago at the first Bacardi distillery in Santiago de Cuba – and housed in a luxury leather case. As a study in packaging, you might say Bacardi’s effort lacks the finesse of Ballantine’s new silver-trimmed 40-year-old or Martell’s XO Architect, but for what it means in the context of rum in the luxury market, it was a job well done.

New technologies

If gifts are the innovative end of the packaging business, it is odd they do not lead the way in digital interaction. For now devices such as QR codes and augmented reality are mainly employed on mass-market packaging. But considering that with one click of a smart phone packaging can broadcast advertising, project 3D images of the product in action and direct a consumer to an app or microsite, luxury packaging surely can’t afford to ignore these devices? As Steve Osborne of design agency Osborne Pike reasons: “The more I spend on a product the more I want to know about that product.”

Osborne sees a clear future for new technologies in gift packaging – so much so he’s written an article on the subject. Turn to page 34 for his take on what’s in augmented reality for gifts?

But as Kevin Shaw of Stranger & Stranger says: “QR codes and augmented reality are still very niche. I assume it’s just über -anoraks [that use them] – I’ve got a bunch of cool kids in my office and they don’t do it. It’s one of those great marketing things people say is going to happen but it just doesn’t. We’ve never had a brief involving QR codes. It’s marketing companies selling the idea to clients. It’s a tactical, promotion-led idea.”

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