Luxury packaging is a major event in the brand relationship; a critical touchpoint where perceived value is tangible. The substantive secondary packaging, the diligently-designed opening mechanic, revealing the exquisite primary case. These are beautiful brand experiences which create powerful influencer moments.

There’s just one problem… luxury brand packaging has been slow to move with the times when it comes to sustainability. The industry has invested decades into incredible packaging experiences, capturing millions of consumers and thousands of awards, but by using raw materials that have no future. And there’s no debate here. We can’t sustain petroleum-based plastics and traditional materials that may end up in our oceans, in fear of disrupting our market share. With eco-conscious Millennials and Gen Z’s rapid rise as luxury consumers (as much as 45% of global sales by 2025), we’re at the precipice of a revolution in packaging materials and experiences.

For global brand powerhouses there’s an eco-arms race building and it’s not a case of who blinks first. Many challenger brands blinked long ago and they’re taking share right now. The rules are already changing.

Whilst technology is creating new substitutes for traditional materials, this isn’t necessarily going to be seamless transition to sustainable alternatives which deliver exactly the same experiences, but those experiences can be better, and the definition of luxury, with an eco-awareness can, potentially become the norm. Brand packaging experiences will change. Sensory branding moments will change. Things will feel different and brands will need to think innovatively as these experiences shift in the consumer relationship.

“Put simply, the brands that will lead this shift will be those who change their approach to packaging as much as they change the raw materials they use.” – Mike Banister

We call them ‘new motives for new materials’. They aren’t definitive rules, but inspirations for brands move a little quicker, step a little further in winning the imminent eco-shift in luxury packaging.

01 Make sustainable packaging a key chapter in the brand story

Take consumers on the journey with you. Create new conversations and powerful social content; it helps consumers form a contract with brands around new packaging experiences and expectations.

02 Create addictive gestures with sustainable materials

If we’re to lose that substantive feel of traditional plastics, then use sustainable materials in more substantive ways. Innovations, such as Hunter’s Luxury Slider, provide user experiences and addictive gestures that take opening experiences into completely new territory.

03 Use raw materials that ‘talk’ from the brand’s heartland

One key innovation stream in new materials is the adaptation of organic sources, such as fruit and flowers. Materials such as Piñatex® (Pineapple leather), Appleleather and Organoid (pressed flower fabric) make fantastic statements for brands in the right spaces.

04 Engineer longer lifespans

Packaging that plays a key role in the consumption cycle reduces the frequency of wastage. Making packaging collectable and reusable could even build usage beyond the original product.

05 Get ideas on paper to stay on paper

Biodegradable plastics are growing fast. Swapping oil for sugarcane or starch is game-changing for PET plastics. But they’re not the only answer. Wood-fibre alternatives, such as Paptic®, are giving paper sourced options the strength and durability of traditional plastic.

Remember, luxury brands have always been sustainable; packaging has to fulfil the promise

Luxury brands have always been a more sustainable choice. They use quality raw materials, ethical labour and in many cases, highly skilled. Luxury products are engineered to last longer and create less waste. There has never been a real tension between luxury and sustainability. Luxury brands, therefore, have a duty to drive and lead the change to sustainable packaging. It’s now simply a case of those who leap first will lead first.