Building Anticipation through Luxury Packaging

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By: Anil Kakar

In an age of instant gratification, luxury brands aim for the opposite. They intentionally work at delaying gratification for a heightened sense of anticipation. No other brand does this better than Apple, which builds anticipation at every stage of a consumer touchpoint, from pre-orders and the keynote address at the launch, all the way to the product packaging stage. Almost all of us have surely come across unboxing videos of an Apple product and this quite obviously has been a well-planned affair.

Creating mystery, elevating anticipation by concocting a layered unveiling experience can forge deeper brand relationships and leave the consumer feeling rewarded at the end of the process.

What are the several ways by which one can build anticipation through luxury packaging?

Build interaction

Materials can help build interaction through a user-initiated process of unravelling of details. Think Treasure Hunt, wherein you drop clues to the user with the final goal of getting to the product. There are various ways to achieve this and these may range from pull tabs, butter paper, pop-up graphics, or satin ribbons. The key is to walk the tightrope between keeping it intuitive and keeping it mysterious so that the user feels rewarded and not frustrated at the end of it all.

For example, the Australian wine brand 19 Crimes launched an augmented reality (AR) app this summer. The app brings to life the characters on the brand’s bottles.

This first-of-its-kind app will animate three of 19 Crimes’ criminals-turned-colonists. Hovering a mobile device over the bottles will bring the character on the label to life, sharing their stories of rule breaking that sent them across the ocean to Australia.

The AR app gives a voice to 19 Crimes Red Blend’s John O’Reilly, who recounts finding love after avoiding the hangman’s noose; the dark red blend The Banished’s James Wilson, who shares his tale of triumph after a conviction for treason; and the newest addition, 19 Crimes’ first female, Jane Castings, who admits to her crimes of thievery, and is depicted on the label of 19 Crimes’ first and newly available white wine, Hard Chard.

Create surprises

Is there a way we could build an experience for the olfactory organ? What if we wrapped a summery dress around butter paper infused with a floral fragrance? That would most definitely help create memorable signature olfactory moments with the potential for long-lasting associations with the brand.  

Similarly, one can experiment and create tactile experiences with the help of bevelled edges, spot varnish printing over a matt background and so on which can create important cues which define a brand. Satin ribbon closures are one such choice among luxury marketers which build a luxe experience.

And while we are on the subject of touch and smell, the audible can’t be far behind.  Luxury packaging does away with high pitched materials such as cellophane and blister packs for materials which are heavier in weight so as to do away with the high pitched sound these materials make. After all, luxury is always subtle.

Ensure quality

In the luxury segment, there can’t be any room for compromises. If we expect the consumer to shell out top dollar for a product, it’s in our interest to meet, if not exceed these expectations. And even though it might sound like an obvious statement at first, far too many brands ignore this aspect. Delivering luxury through packaging design in advertisements is one thing—delivering the goods is quite another. Warping and bubbling of packaging while in transit in humid conditions can totally ruin a product experience.

Case in point: Chocolates can melt in transit, especially in the hot and humid months in India, ruining both the packaging as well as the product experience. To this end, while designing packaging for Koko Artisanal Chocolates, our client suggested placing an ice-pack at the bottom to ensure optimal temperature. We decided to create a space at the bottom of the back wherein we could slip in the ice-pack. This ensured that the product, as well as the packaging, were both intact when it finally reached the consumer.

These few rules can make the difference between packaging which is a luxurious keepsake and packaging which is tossed straight into the wastebasket.


Anil Kakar
Anil has 25 years’ experience in advertising. Over the years, he has worked with agencies such as Leo Burnett, Enterprise Nexus (Lowe), SSC&B Lintas, Publicis and Percept Hakuhodo in Mumbai, India. Anil’s work has earned over 100 awards. He has been a member of the jury at the New York Festivals, DMA, Outdoor Advertising Awards and Goafest, 14 years in a row. Anil founded Gasoline in 2011,an independent agency specializing in design and luxury brand communications.