It’s often said that first impressions can inform the way that consumers view products. When browsing retail shelves, shoppers often encounter a wide variety of similar products, which means that luxury brands have to pull out all of the stops to make products stand out from their competitors. As packaging is often the first point of contact for consumers browsing retail stores, the way that a pack looks on the shelf plays a vital role in creating a good impression.

Distinctive and eye-catching designs can elevate the perception of both brands and products, creating a feeling of luxury and decadence that consumers can use to justify making a purchase. To achieve this interactive on-shelf appear, premium decoration techniques and multisensory technologies that use a combination of textures to enhance the feel of packaging have become popular options for brands. We spoke to Ian Bason, sales development manager at Pollard Boxes to find out how luxury packaging designs can help brands to entice consumers and stand out on the shelf.

Eloise McLennan: Multi-sensory technologies have become a key development in luxury packaging, how do these techniques enhance the on-shelf appeal of products?

Ian Bason: Visuals always spring to mind when you think of on-shelf appeal, but I think touch is the next key sense.

Obviously you’ve got the print finishing techniques of touch, so raised foiling, debossing, embossing, and high build varnishes as well so it’s quite tactile. Soft touch laminate is increasingly popular as well for that reason.

In the rigid box sector there’s far more choice because of the range of materials we can use to cover a box, which isn’t really available for cartons. What we tend to do when we take a brief from a new customer is try and find out what they are trying to achieve and it’s often us recommending to the customers that if you are looking for that kind of feel, have you considered this kind of particular material.

EM: Can you talk us through some of the techniques that Pollard Boxes uses to enhance on-shelf appeal?

IB: We use a lot of foil techniques and multi foiling to create effects in the cosmetics and personal care sector. We do all the packaging for GHD, and we’ve done all sorts of different variations of foiling techniques for their packs. If you imagine when you’re drying your hair, the wave of air, we kind created a wave of foiling to replicate that, which was a particularly successful design.

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One thing you do have to bear in mind is where the pack is being sold. Something that is desirable in the UK and thought of as premium wouldn’t necessarily be seen as premium in Dubai or in the Far East. Foiling is a prime example, certain colour foils, in the UK copper and bronze are very popular, but in the Far East it’s brighter, glitzier gold’s that tend not to be seen as premium in the UK, which are in demand.

EM: Rigid boxes seem to be a popular choice for more luxury cosmetics products, what make the format stand out?

IB: Rigid boxes have more of a premium feel to them because they are stronger. The box feels more robust, so it has more of a quality feel to it, which is why it tends to be more in the premium end.

Obviously there are some of the companies in the beauty sector have got premium brands and then more basic brand that they own and they want to differentiate the higher price points with more specialist packs to justify the perceived value of the overall product and that’s where a rigid boxes really come into their own.

EM: How do decorative techniques contribute to the packaging?

IB: It depends. If you have a plain white box that isn’t very tactile and pair that with one that is foiled and has some print on it then that’s going to be more attractive to touch and pick up. But on the reverse it could be quite the very simplistic white design, but if you used an embossed paper, it would have more of a quality feel to it.

Quite a few brands that we make packs for in the beauty sector go for very minimalist looks with just a subtle bit of foiling or embossing that adds to the perceived value of the pack, which can stand out against another pack that’s perhaps just a jazzy print.

EM: Unboxing has become a key part of packaging recently? How does that influence the on-shelf design requirements?

IB: We tend to call it the reveal as an overall project title. I think the drive to have the experience and reveals come more from the ecommerce sector initially and internet retailers but obviously once you’ve developed that and obviously there is an increasing proportion of products are sold that way, obviously customers don’t really want to have two pack styles, so the same pack that is designed for internet retail then gets used in store as well.

EM: You’ve also started to move into men’s personal care products, is this a particular area of opportunity? How is this different to marketing products towards women?

IB: I think it’s different visually more than anything. The trend we’ve seen most on the men’s side is it tends to be more natural looks. So things like craft papers or even a printed craft effect we’ve used before. Some are just different colours, for example, for the internet retailer Net-a-Porter, we tend to use black, but use white for Mr Porter.

I definitely think that will be a growth sector. We’ve done quite a number of beard oil packs in the last couple of years as beards became popular.