Does product packaging still matter?
With the increase in online shopping, the number of boxes people are receiving is at an all time high. As such, regularly disassembling boxes became a chore, and the waste of it all became glaring. Add to that the ubiquity of Amazon’s stripped-down packaging – not to mention the current and pervasive delivery delays – and the bar for what a buyer wants to see on their doorstep has indeed been lowered. The assurance of getting what they ordered in a timely manner trumps any promise of a luxurious unboxing experience.
Over time, even high-end brands are rethinking their packaging strategies. Many improved their packaging in 2020 as one of several instinctive attempts to recreate the in-store experience for online shoppers. Now more and more people are saving their money and prioritizing boxes that meet evolving sustainability standards.
Monday, Valentino announcement it is moving towards more sustainable packaging for in-store and online purchases. For shipped goods, this includes boxes and tissue paper made from materials from sustainably managed forests. The clothing covers are now in recycled cotton and the gift boxes in recycled cardboard.
And at the end of October, ahead of COP26, luxury packaging company Delta Global has revealed what it called the FutureBox. The customizable, recyclable box closes without tape or magnets and incorporates materials accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council. Delta Global customers include Net-a-Porter, Tom Ford and MatchesFashion.
Currently, brands are faced with the need to both âbe seen to be doing the right thing and really want to do the right thing,â said Robert Lockyer, CEO of Delta Global. The company’s business with luxury e-commerce retailers increased by 40% during the pandemic.
For his part, the 6-year-old e-merchant Maison de Mode, specializing in sustainable luxury fashion, has adopted the same minimalist approach to packaging since day one. On the Glossy stage Summit of the future of fashion in October, Hassan Pierre, CEO of Maison de Mode, said: âPackaging is no longer something that everyone is concerned about. When Net-a-Porter was [pioneering luxury e-commerce] It was interesting 10 years ago. But we all buy Amazon in boxes now. What makes the online space special and âluxuryâ is genuine human customer service. “
This week, Pierre elaborated by declaring: âThe true [packaging] the goals are not to have a bunch of boxes sitting and waiting to be thrown, and not seeing another giant Amazon box with just one small item. They want packaging that has little waste and is easy to dispose of.
As Sephora’s ecommerce manager Carolyn Bojanowski said in this week’s Glossy Beauty podcast, convenience and time are now the âultimateâ luxury.
In September, technology solutions company Pitney Bowes announced its Parcel shipping index, showing that the volume of packages in the United States increased 37%, to 20 billion, from 2019 to 2020. Amazon’s package count alone increased by 127%, to 4.2 billion.
In its pop-up stores, Maison de Mode uses bags and handkerchiefs made by the sustainable packaging company No Issue and bearing the soy ink mark. But because its business model is focused on drop shipping, the company is losing a lot of control when it comes to online orders. It provides a thank you note to customers for their first purchase only and takes advantage of the carbon neutral option when drop shipping is required. It is also asking partner brands to avoid common shipping materials like popcorn fillers and plastic when shipping their products to its stores.
Of course, “the simple act of shipping the goods has an impact” on the environment, Pierre said. And in the future, he hopes to avoid adding more boxes to the world.
Companies are springing up to meet this demand. For example, there is Returnity, 5, who makes reusable shipping and delivery packaging for companies like Rent the Runway and New Balance. Before the pandemic, her business was heavily focused on rental companies, but as that market was hit hard, she began to look beyond circular logistics models. This expansion did not come without challenges.
âCustomers are really hungry for sustainable solutions, but they are very busy. And [for providers,] solutions are hard to scale, âsaid Michael Newman, CEO of Returnity. He largely owed the latter to the costs incurred. When given the option of returning a Returnity package to a retailer for reuse, a typical customer only does so 70% of the time. As such, each bag is only used 3-4 times on average. To make financial sense for partner retailers, Returnity is targeting a 95% return rate and 20 duty cycles for its packaging.
Where it has recently been successful is “starting with the most sustainable part” of a retailer’s business, Newman said. For example, it’s linked to Aveda for its product refill program and New Balance for its sponsored team uniform samples. And companies are looking to mitigate future packaging sourcing risks, as Returnly’s bags stay in the field for 1 to 2 years. Plus, brands that hope to get the packaging program needed to meet their 2025 sustainability goals are reaching out.
General consumer “packaging fatigue” leaves Returnity in a privileged position, Newman said.
While many brands come to Returnity with big plans for their shipping bag designs, most opt ââfor the simplified black or navy blue bags recommended by the company, where the shippers’ brands will remain invisible. “The most complicated [the bag], the more expensive it is, the more likely it is to break and the more difficult it is to educate customers [on the return process],” he said.
In other words, its partners choose sustainable and practical packaging over standout, more Instagrammable bags and boxes.
On that note, many brands, including those that advertise themselves as durable, have received social media reaction for their use of unnecessary packaging. Yet, it is clear that beautiful packaging can pay for itself through the organic marketing that it conducts. Take TikTok #the cheapest trend: People buy the most affordable item from a luxury brand, like a Louis Vuitton $ 35 city guide, just for the luxury experience of being a Louis Vuitton shopper. Receiving and opening the brand’s signature packaging is at the heart of this experience. TikTok unboxing videos using the hashtag have 3.7 million views.
It reminds me of a conversation I had with Ian Rogers during his interview for the 2017 Glossy 50 list. He was at the time digital director at LVMH, and he encouraged me to even buy a lipstick from the. conglomerate 24 SÃ¨vres, now called 24S, to experiment with packaging. It’s customizable and features a pop-up Eiffel towel – to this day, according to his website (aand social networks).
The popularity of unboxing and even transporting videos to YouTube has held up since January 2020, despite the supposed pandemic rise of the conscious consumer.
So where does that leave the marks?
In October, Atlanta-based consultant Howard White launched lifestyle brand Constant Mountain, with a $ 200 hero jacket that features a hoodie-style kangaroo pocket. Inspired by the packaging of brands like Allbirds and On Running, he said he decided to “make an investment in the brand” by increasing his spending on the packaging of the “flagship” jacket. The result was an orange rectangular box with a top that opens to the side, revealing an image from a local photographer from Kennesaw Mountain. The brand’s slogan, âLife is a constant mountain. Enjoy the view. âAnd the base features a pattern made from the CM logo. A folded flap references theâ Constant Mountain family â.
The box comes with free extras, including a pair of koozies and a set of bookmarks topped with QR codes leading to the website.
White said he was considering going for an alternative, more affordable, kraft paper box, but ultimately decided the investment in the “shiny box” was worth it.
âI always deal with lower volumes, so the price difference is significant,â he said. âBut I want people to see it on the doorstep, immediately know what it is and get excited. And I want them to open it, to feel warm, comfortable, and happy. And I want them to keep the box.
The back of the box, which also states that it is made from recyclable content, clearly states, “Please reuse or recycle responsibly.”
Choosing between one of the two extremes – ultra-simple and durable or elaborate and reusable – seems like a brand’s best bet. The latter is making its way.
âThe wrapping with the tissue paper, the beautiful box and the ribbon was the first season of unboxing. It’s failed, âsaid Pierre. “Now people like BeyoncÃ© with Ivy Park elevate experience. [To celebrities and influencers], they give a complete wardrobe [in a trunk], and it’s special and unique. And they get a great unboxing situation and then keep the box. The bar has been raised. “
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Image via Rent Track