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Thinking Outside the (Same Old) Box

By: Abby Penning
Posted: April 26, 2013, from the May 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Sheherazade Chamlou, vice president of sales and marketing, perfume division for SGD North America, describes the product’s packaging, explaining that SGD used “a new, innovative finishing technique to decorate the limited edition of Nina Fantasy, a fairy-tale reinterpretation of the apple bottle. Nina Fantasy speaks of an imaginative dream world. The heroine is a young woman dressed and made up in Kawaii style singing as she strolls through the woods. The bottle is a white apple adorned with charming pink and gold patterns expressing an imaginary world.”

To help create that imaginary world, SGD had to figure how to navigate some tight packaging corners. “The challenge was to decorate and perfectly register the graphics on this bottle, which has a curvy and concave surface,” says Chamlou. “The decoration process is known as hot transfer, and it offers a better quality and greater precision [than other options]. This technique consists of applying a film in a one-pass machine to deposit ink on areas that cannot be decorated by silk screen.”

And the result truly offers a supporting piece of the fantasy to consumers. “Nina Fantasy is a colorful olfactory dream, and the pretty bottle is very whimsical and feminine—definitely a collector’s favorite,” Chamlou says.

That idea of telling a story with a product’s packaging is almost taken to its zenith with the Floral Curiosities Botanists Travel Sprays from Ineke, a perfume creation company based in San Francisco. “The idea for the Floral Curiosities Botanists Travel Sprays was inspired by the various books I have on flowers and perfume,” explains Ineke Rühland, perfumer and creative director with the company. “We imagined seeing a collection of books telling a story about each soliflore fragrance (i.e., Angel’s Trumpet, Poet’s Jasmine, Scarlet Larkspur and Sweet William). We were so inspired that we actually photographed real book ends in the San Francisco public library so the edges of the books looked very realistic.”

Of course, Rühland explains, this project also required collaboration. “Conceptually, it wasn’t difficult, but from an implementation viewpoint, we worked closely with Bill Omelia from Knollpack, who helped guide us—taking our idea and making it into production at a reasonable price,” she says. “The design was our own, and we worked closely with a local graphic artist Tracy Sunrize Johnson and one we discovered through crowdspring.com, Dragan Loncar, to develop the right look.”

The result is a set of fragrances that also can be used as decor. “Consumers love them and like to collect the full set,” Rühland comments. “And the only issue was that [the book packages] sometimes look too realistic, so we developed a point-of-sale display that features bookends with spaces for testers.”

By developing this innovative packaging idea, Ineke was able to further build out the story of its Floral Curiosities Botanists collection, inspiring consumers and building its connection even more strongly.

Tactile Connections

The use of sensory elements in products is another strong connection point receiving a lot of attention, and packaging offers the distinct opportunity for a better tactile experience. Beauty products are so personal, the touch needs to be as engaging—if not more so—than the visual.

Scherer notes that Curtis Packaging’s new Curtis Coatography aims to capitalize on this trend. “The first product in this line, Coatography Gloss, allows brands to achieve an undulating landscape of tactile coating, allowing them to distinguish themselves with both the visual and tactile aspects of their packaging,” she explains. “Customers are engaged on two levels with two powerful senses—sight and touch. And there is no end to the intricacy of the designs we can produce. You really have to see it and feel it to truly appreciate the impact.”

This kind of technology allows for more involved, interesting ideas, as well. “We’re constantly testing new applications based on our customers’ ideas, and some of our own,” says Scherer. “It’s a really collaborative environment, and we’re constantly testing the limits of what we’re able to achieve. In addition to the current innovation, we’re planning to expand the line to include glitter, spot lenticular that doesn’t require lamination, and spot flocking. Our offerings at the moment are just the tip of the iceberg.”

Tactile packaging also can have a very specific, necessary use, as bath and body care brand Cleanlogic discovered. “Cleanlogic started with just under 10 SKUs, and the focus of the packaging was to create a clean but elegant look. This was achieved with minimalist typeface and metallic silver packaging,” explains John Arabanos, manager of marketing and communications of IMS Trading, LLC, for Cleanlogic.

But an innovative idea that developed as the brand grew really aimed to set it apart. “As our line increased in SKU count, so came the inclusion of braille,” Arabanos says. “After the inclusion of braille on a select group of products was met with great support at a bath accessories trade show, it was decided that braille should be a signature of all Cleanlogic products.”