We’ve all heard the adage, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” While that may be true about literature, in the product packaging world, that adage doesn’t apply. Consumers can and do judge the products within by the package without.

First Impressions

Let’s face it. While first impressions don’t mean everything, they certainly matter. In fact, first impressions can be the deciding factor that determines whether a consumer will take a closer look at what you’re selling, and ultimately, seal the deal with a purchase.

But beyond giving the consumer their initial impression of your product, your packaging also represents your brand. Simply put: The power that packaging wields cannot be underestimated, and that power has the capacity to impact popular opinion — and sales — exponentially. Essentially, your chosen packaging is your chance to set the tone for your brand — to present to the world, not only what you are offering them as consumers, but introducing who you are as a brand.

Luxe Looks

When elite brands are looking for that WOW factor when introducing their products, only the best luxury packaging will do. And with so many packaging options on the market today, your brand has to set itself apart.

Practical Packaging, But Make It Art

The motifs today in the luxury packaging realm are a migration from the old, run-of-the-mill, commercial designs. Brands are now placing more emphasis on aesthetic beauty, and many luxury brands are utilizing packages that are bonafide pieces of art. In other words, the packages themselves are becoming valuable commodities.

The key to maintaining the balance between practicality and luxury lies in finding that sweet spot that brings the consumer a work of art that functions properly. Is it easy to open? Durable when shipped? Sustainable and eco-friendly? Is it lovely? Does it have that WOW factor that makes buyers feel they have treated themselves to the best of the best? If you haven’t said “yes” to all of the above, it´s back to the drawing board.

With that in mind, we want to help you up your luxury packaging game by ensuring that you know what’s hot in 2021. The following are the top luxury packaging design trends to look out for this year:

Focus on Fine Art

Luxury package designers are gleaning inspiration from the art galleries of the world and infusing fine art features into their packaging. Luxury packaging today is proving that luxury goods can arrive in vessels that are not only practical, but artful, beautiful, and high-end. The packages today cleverly incorporate textures, fonts, and colors mimicking the oil paintings and watercolor pieces from artists like Rembrandt and Van Gogh. Among our favourites? The label for specialty wine Serund that was inspired by Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” fresco painting.

Looking Back

Just as with high fashion clothing, the trend we are seeing in luxury packaging is the celebration of things that once were. Vintage-inspired packaging has taken the luxury sector by storm this year, with well known brands packaging their products in a way that not only gives an appreciative nod to bygone eras, but makes you feel as if you have traveled back in time and purchased your luxury goods right off the shelf of some chic apothecary or high-end mercantile. The Noble brand of handcrafted wares is an excellent example of this trend that we especially love.

Getting In Shape(s)

When it comes to trends in 2021, luxury packaging has made it there resolution to get in shape. Bold geometric choices featuring clean lines and cutting edges are  … well… exactly what’s cutting edge. These trends are abstract to the extreme — and consumers are loving it. An added factor is that the brands are able to use the shapes of the packaging to “tease” what’s inside. Two favorite examples of this trend include Honey Made by Bees —where the honey packaging comes in a hexagonal shape indicative of a single cell of a hive — and Zen perfume, which pays homage to the bamboo essence of the scent with a bottle that is shaped as a strip of bamboo.

Color Blocking Is Big

Color blocking is big right now. Say goodbye to little dots and cute blips, and say hello to gobs of blobs and spirals. Color blocking isn’t new, but in 2021 color blocking on luxury packaging is very different. It is no longer neat and tidy as in years before; now it is more free form, and organic. Think wildly uneven splats and splotches — the delightfully whimsical and naturally occurring ones you’d find in nature, like haphazard rows of wildflowers or here-and-there splotches on a Dalmation´s coat. This is a trend that would make Jackson Pollock beam with pride.

Order’s Up

Fast on the heels of the haphazard nature of color blocking comes the rise in perfectly symmetric packages. This contradiction in trends will appease the consumers who stress out easily. These consumers prefer packages in exact balanced proportions, instead of the “wilder” disorderly nature of the color block trend.

Chic, But Make It Sustainable

More than ever, we are seeing a heightened focus on the use of sustainable and biodegradable packaging in the luxury realm. This growing demand for sustainability has fast become non-negotiable with consumers, and brands are pivoting to appease them. Impressive examples include a sustainable make-up set currently being produced by Giorgio Armani, and the recent joint endeavor of Estée Lauder and Origins, who partnered with global chemical industry supplier SABIC and strategic beauty packaging manufacturer Albéa to bring advanced recycled tube packaging to market in 2021.

Paperboard Boon

Along with the theme of increased sustainability is the growing adoption of paperboard and other eco-friendly materials, such as metal, glass, plastic and wood — all of which are easy to find and chic enough to align with a luxury brand´s image of superior quality. Paperboard lends itself to added high-style features, such as laminations, unique coatings, super embossing and debossing effects — all of which make a package more appealing and attractive to the discerning consumer eye. A prime example of this trend is the fragrance company XOXO’s Eau de Parfum spray, which features diamond glitter coating, multi-color printing, foil stamping, and embossing that really provides that Ooh La La first impression.

Because, after all, first impressions do matter…

Need help with your packaging? RSN helps companies make their packaging more sustainable. Learn more about our sustainable packaging services here.

How To Get Started

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