September 27, 2011
Packaging is one of the few touch points outside of the store and branded Web sites that upscale brands can directly control and therefore cannot afford to skimp on extending the luxury experience after customers leave the store.
As luxury shopping bags make their way out of the store, into the streets and into people’s homes, luxury brands need to ensure that the packaging is reminiscent of the brand’s style and standards. A number of luxury brands have established their shopping bags as iconic symbols to the affluent consumer.
“Packaging is something that speaks about the brand when the consumer is not in the store,” said Chris Turbyfill, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Design Packaging, Scottsdale, AZ.
“That bag reminds consumers of the brand and [therefore] it should look like the store,” he said. “It is all involved in what we call the customer experience.”
Design Packaging has worked with Diane von Furstenberg, Valentino, Alexander Wang and Zac Posen on various packaging designs including garment bags, boxes, shopping bags and cosmetic packaging.
Getting a handle
Package design is an intricate part of the luxury brand customer experience.
For example, a consumer carrying a particular shopping bag or receiving a present in a certain box indicate a luxe lifestyle.
In addition, the shopping bag can reach a lot more people than stores think, particularly in major metropolises such as New York, Paris, London or Milan.
The shopping bags also remain in a consumer's home after they take the product out, offering a constant reminder that can increase brand recall.
For these reasons, the shopping bag should be reminiscent of a luxury brand’s physical store and remind consumers of their in-store experience.
In addition to the shopping bag, packaging design can include everything from garment boxes to shipping boxes to the ribbon of gift-wrapping.
All of these elements need to be considered and strategically planned to meet high-quality standards and uphold the brand’s style.
“When a buyer leaves the store the only way to control a brand’s image is by what they take home with them,” Mr. Turbyfill said.
“And the main thing is the shopping bag.
“That bag needs to reflect the imagery and the feel of the brand,” he said. “And when consumers go home and put the bag on the table, it is a subtle reminder of what happened in that store.
“That is why packaging is so important.”
In the bag
Many luxury brands have established themselves through distinct and iconic packaging design.
Luxury Daily has found that the following brands have differentiated themselves in the luxury market and created shopping bags that are reminiscent of the luxury status and style of each particular label.
Jeweler and silversmith Asprey has associated nearly all of its shopping bags and consumer packaged goods with its royal purple color.
Relatively simple in design, New York-based department store Bergdorf Goodman is known for its iconic lavender shopping bags that simply contain the retailer’s name in a black-outlined square.
Fellow department store Bloomingdale's has brown shopping bags - the Brown Bag - that have become so notorious that shoppers know exactly where the bag is from despite the lack of the store name.
Jeweler Cartier has associated itself with its deep red hue in consumers’ minds through all pieces of branded materials, including shopping bags and boxes as well as event print or out-of-home advertisements.
British department store Harrods has used a rich color scheme of hunter green and gold to relay the luxury status of the retailer.
Saddlebag and leather goods maker Hermés has dominated the use of orange for all of its shopping bags and packages, as well as in many of its luxury products.
In a similar move, leather accessories brand Louis Vuitton has taken its signature dark brown and gold hues directly from its iconic handbags and translated these colors into a matte shopping bag.
Online retailer Net-A-Porter has made a large production of its matte black-and-white shopping bags, even taking measures to deliver them in tip-top form through its private delivery service.
Department store Nordstrom’s shopping bags are famous for its turquoise background and silver lettering.
Furthermore, department store chain Saks Fifth Avenue has also embodied a trendier vibe with its glossy black-and-white shopping bags.
British leather and stationery brand Smythson has long been affiliated with the use of a matte periwinkle blue bag with a black handle and branded writing for its shopping bags.
The color of the boxes and shopping bags from jeweler Tiffany & Co. have become so synonymous with the brand that the color has been named “Tiffany blue.”
“When a consumer holds the box or bag they should instantly recognize how it feels,” Mr. Turbyfill said. “If it’s shiny or thick or muted, it goes back to the aesthetic of the brand.
“In some cases, it can even tell you what is really important to that brand,” he said.
Kayla Hutzler, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York