“Packaging is every brand’s opportunity to tell its story about a fragrance,” says Tara Swords, founder, Olfactif. “I always advise brands to use packaging to build an immersive experience for the customer,” she says. Olfactif features indie brands on its e-commerce site, and sells subscriptions to a monthly fragrance sampling box. Swords created the company to make it easier for all consumers to try niche fragrances, no matter where they live.
She says she will often advise a niche perfumer on packaging, since they may sometimes overlook it—or regard it as an afterthought, because their main “love” is formulating. She will say to a perfumer, “Your packaging should make the consumer fall in love with everything about the juice that captivated you when you were creating it.”
Glamorous and Gilded Looks
Many brands are creating packaging designed to make a consumer fall in love this fall. Anna Sui’s Romantica, launching by Inter Parfums in September, features a pink bottle with pink juice—and the bottle is adorned with an intricate pattern of “gilded” roses. Its design was inspired by an Art Nouveau look.
The rectangular-shaped bottle has curvy sides. It is decorated with a raised pattern of “gilded” roses. The roses are “painted” with gold ink, which is made from real gold flake dust.
“Controlling the ink application on the flowers was the greatest challenge for this project,” says Walter Johnsen, director of global communications, Inter Parfums. “We overcame this by controlling the amount of ink across all the flowers by running the pad printing machine at much slower speeds than usual,” Johnsen explains.
The bottle has a rosebud-shaped cap that is gold-plated. The hot pink carton has a soft touch finish, and is decorated with a floral pattern that features gold highlights to match the bottle.
Luxurious bottle designs are a trend for Fall 2015. “We’re seeing a return to a glamorous style of glass for fragrance packaging, such as clean bottle shapes and heavy, thick glass,” says Sheherazade Chamlou, vice president of sales and marketing, SGD North America.
Chamlou gives an example—the new RiRi by Rihanna—which Parlux is launching in September. SGD produces this bottle in its plant in Atlanta, Georgia. RiRi is Rihanna’s sixth fragrance, and the bottle has a feminine look—unlike the edginess of the pop star’s previous bottle designs, some of which included spikes in the base.
RiRi by Rihanna sports a bubblegum pink look. It’s a pyramid shaped bottle with rounded sides and an elegant, heavyweight square base. The glamorous round cap has an elongated collar, and it’s reminiscent of a vintage stopper.
Rihanna debuted the fragrance’s new ad campaign on Instagram (to her 22.9 million followers), where she poses in a pink dress that resembles Marilyn Monroe’s outfit in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes—or Madonna’s iconic Material Girl look.
An Art Deco style inspired the new glam bottle design for Jimmy Choo Illicit. Inter Parfums is launching the new fragrance on August 31. The short, round heavyweight glass bottle resembles vintage crystal.
The bottle features a raised column design around its base, which looks cut or carved— like an elegant jewel. The amber colored juice complements the bottle’s glitzy gold carton. The chunky square cap is metallic silver, and weighted.
Flankers Continue to Be Popular
A flanker is a new version of an existing fragrance, and it’s often in a new version of an existing bottle. Many brands are continuing to launch flanker fragrances this season, and they are using the same bottles as a fragrance’s original packaging.
“As a company that decorates for many of the glass suppliers to the fragrance industry, one trend that all the glass companies are seeing is a reduction in the amount of brand new launches and bottle designs. Flankers, however, continue to be healthy,” says John Schofield, owner, ScreenTech/SprayeTech.
One new flanker launch for Fall 2015 is the new Tory Burch Absolu—and the brand has chosen trendy gold. The fragrance is a more intensified version of the designer’s signature scent. The new fragrance is in the same rectangular shaped bottle, but this time the juice is more golden, rather than a peachy hue. The gold cap features a “fretwork” of ornamental openwork design—the same as the brand’s original packaging.
Two new men’s fragrances for this fall, Michael Kors Extreme Blue and Azzaro Chrome Intense, are both flankers. Michael Kors Extreme Blue appears in a heavy, clear glass bottle with a sleek silver cap. Azzaro Chrome Intense is the same bottle the brand first used for Chrome back in 1996 (and many versions after), but it now has a different twist—a decoration on the dip tube.
Gold and Metallic Are On Trend
Gold is a popular color for fragrance packaging this fall—as well as all things metallic. “Demand for metallization in both glass and plastic is continuing to grow,” says Richard Engel, president & COO, Decotech, Inc.
Michael Kors Gold Collection is a set of three new fragrances—24K Brilliant Gold, Rose Radiant Gold, and White Luminous Gold—and the packaging looks as glitzy as the names sound.
The rectangular shaped bottles, reminiscent of skyscrapers, resemble previous Kors launches from 2013 and 2014. The bottles are the same shape, with the same oversized square caps adorned with metal plaques. There’s a major difference, however: The new bottles are opaque, and decorated with a fancy metallic coating that looks as luxurious as Kors’ jewelry collection.
Decotech is one supplier spotting this trend and investing in its metallic decorating capabilities. “There has been a gap in the prestige market for this type of decorating ability,” says Engel. “We offer a more flexible and efficient means of metallizing glass and plastic, which can deliver a look that traditional vacuum metallization and sputtering cannot achieve,” he explains.
Decotech offers a variety of decorating options. “True gradient fades, multi-color metallization, textured metallic effects with varying levels of opacity, from sheer to solid metal, are just some of the unique looks that our new lines can deliver,” Engel explains.
SGD offers a new type of metallic lacquer finish, called the Prism effect. “This innovative lacquer reacts randomly during application and firing by drawing prisms. Each bottle will have a specific look that will make it unique,” says Chamlou. SGD’s other innovative lacquering finishes include concrete and crackled effects. “These help create sensorial experiences for the consumer,” she explains.
SGD also offers two types of decorations that are done on a bottle’s inner walls. “The inside color magnifies the depth and thickness of the glass distribution and creates a bubble of color,” she adds.
New Types of Intricate Designs, Tactile Elements
The consumer expects a glass bottle to feel smooth and sleek, so when a fragrance bottle is decorated with an unexpected type of finish or coating, it can be a way for a brand to catch the consumer’s eye.
“Texture is important in design right now,” says Decotech’s Engel. “Adding a new tactile dimension can change the customer’s first encounter with a fragrance, and it’s a wonderful way to stand apart from the competition,” he explains.
Engel says he has been hearing a lot about texture from clients. “We have developed and launched several items this year with spectacular textured finishes and we are currently developing a line with a very luxurious soft-touch feel on glass,” he says. “Our cracked glass texture, the look and feel of water drops on a bottle, and the feel of our soft touch coatings in sleek satin or plush velvet, have all been popular with our clients this year,” he explains.
Decorating processes that are more complex are also popular, suppliers say. “We like to push technologies, and take innovation very seriously,” says Emanuele Mazzei, CEO, Heinz Glass. “Our customers know we are experts in challenging, intricate types of decoration, which are more in demand now,” he adds.
SGD has developed a new 3D engraving decoration, which has the look of an ultra-fine pattern, replicating every pretty detail. “Using this process, we’re able to re-create the delicacy of lace, imitate the goldsmithing of fine jewelry, or invent new textures with surprising details,” explains Chamlou. She says, “Based on the decoration desired, there are numerous finishing solutions that can magnify the engraved patterns by perfectly embracing the delicacy of a bottle’s curves—the possibilities are endless.”
SGD calls this engraving technique “Fine Arts,” and says it adds a tactile quality that can’t be achieved with spray or print alone.
Mazzei says the Heinz team is expert in combining materials, such as a glass bottle with a metal decoration. “Often, it’s a bottle shape that is a challenge—but add a detailed decoration, plus the assembly of a wood accessory, for example, and the production process becomes very complex. This is where we excel—we offer complete packaging systems and solutions for combining multiple processes,” he explains.
The team at Heinz often uses a combination of advanced technologies that it has perfected, including laser engraving and digital printing. These design elements are often combined with materials such as wood and leather to convey luxury. “We often combine innovative decorating techniques and assembly processes with our glass-making expertise. We are seeing a demand to deliver more complex designs, in less time,” says Mazzei.
Giving a Standard Bottle—or Flanker—a Stand-Out Look
Suppliers are offering a full range of options in standard fragrance bottles, which are designs that are in stock and so can be delivered quickly. Stock packaging is ideal for an indie fragrance brand on a budget.
Customizing a stock bottle is not unlike decorating a bottle for a flanker fragrance. Brands typically need to get a flanker out the door quickly, especially if it’s a limited edition fragrance, such as Lanvin’s new Eclat d’Arpege Eyes On You.
When the same bottle is chosen for a brand’s second, or third scent, it is usually decorated differently. Lanvin uses the same round bottle as its Eclat d’Arpege, but this bottle features a new decoration—a cute face with eyelashes and red lips. The delightful illustration is signed by fashion designer Alber Elbaz.
“More and more of our customers are requiring fast delivery, so ‘design based on availability’ has been a trend we’re seeing,” Mazzei explains, describing how the types of bottles a supplier has in stock might influence a brand’s design direction, especially for a smaller company.
“Reaction time is also much more important now—everyone always needs things quickly,” Mazzei says. Heinz Glass offers a complete standard range of bottles, at low minimums.
Brands requiring fast turnaround will also require a cap, in stock—and Coverpla offers a variety. “We have gold designs and weighted caps that we offer as stock items. We also recently introduced three new wood caps, plus two additional Surlyn designs that are part of our standard line,” says Gilda Cutri, national sales director, Coverpla.
Jennifer Corey, vice president of development, Quality Resourcing Services, mentions another option for giving a plain bottle a fancy look or update—a bulb-shaped atomizer. “It’s making a comeback, she says. “A bulb atomizer will give any bottle a custom look that says luxe. Some brands are making this old-fashioned style look modern by using them in different colors.”
Decorating a bottle with a spray color is another customization option. “Spraying is one way to make the same bottle look vastly different,” says ScreenTech’s Schofield. “Our spray capabilities offer a tremendous variety of options to give a bottle a different look,” he says.
ScreenTech/SprayeTech has also added hot stamping capabilities to its manufacturing process, which many of its customers have been utilizing, Schofield says.
Labeling is another option. “When you are using three or more print colors, labeling is a great alternative to screen printing,” says Schofield.
Telling a ‘Green’ Story
A natural or organic fragrance brand should continue to tell its “green” story through its packaging, and here too, suppliers are offering lots of options. Some eco-friendly materials and processes look just as eye-catching and luxe as traditional decorating techniques. Often, it’s not possible to tell the difference just by looking.
SGD has launched Verre Infini Neo, which is a more transparent version of its fragrance bottle Verre Infini. Both are made from 90% recycled glass, comprised of 65% factory cullet, 25% post-consumer recycled glass, and 10% virgin mineral raw materials.
SGD’s “green” bottle can be decorated in the same way as conventional glass. “We offer a range of eco-friendly decoration techniques, including water-based lacquers, glass etching with zero effluent discharge, and organic or UV silkscreen inks that require the use of very little energy during the polymerization process,” says Chamlou.
ScreenTech/SprayeTech offers numerous “green” decorating options, and says that these processes are being requested more frequently. “We are seeing an increase in fragrances that are marketed as natural or organic, and these brands are very interested in our organic spray coatings, which are very environmentally friendly,” Schofield says.
Downsizing Fragrance Bottles - Smaller Options & Sample Sets
“Luxury” and over-the-top luxe looks may be “in,” but that doesn’t mean fragrance bottles are getting larger. The opposite is true—downsizing seems to be a trend for fragrance packaging.
“The focus now is on to-go sizes for fragrances. Our customers are asking for more purse spray options,” says Quality Resourcing Services’ Corey. “Rollerballs, in particular, have made a return. It’s a convenient travel friendly size that brands and consumers like; it allows the user to take a fragrance everywhere,” she says.
Sonoma Scent Studio is an indie brand that offers sample sets, as well as bottles that are smaller than average size for a fragrance. “My customers want smaller size bottles,” says the company’s founder and perfumer, Laurie Erickson. “Smaller size bottles are especially popular for niche brands, because customers want to try as many different fragrances as possible,” she adds.
The company sells its fragrances in classic rectangular shaped bottles, in 15- and 30ml sizes. “I import the bottles from two different suppliers in Europe, and buy pumps locally from ABA Packaging, which is a great resource for stock options,” Erickson says. The 15ml bottle is decorated with a label, and the 30ml size is screen-printed.
Sonoma Scent Studio’s sample sets are also popular, and customers can customize the box by choosing which scents to sample. The company sources its boxes from Royal Paper Box.
Olfactif, the e-commerce company that sells a fragrance sampling subscription service for niche brands, offers its subscribers a curated box each month. The box contains three sample vials of fragrances, based on a common theme. “We don’t just throw loose samples into a box or cheap pouch; we showcase them visually,” says Swords, the company’s founder.
Swords continues to explain, “We have a very elegant box that looks and feels like a luxury item, with custom fittings for vials, which are clean, simple, and void of all external branding, because we want subscribers to fall in love with the scents first. Then, if a bottle is so beautiful that they’ll covet it when they see it online, even better.”
Ellen Covey, an indie perfumer and founder of Olympic Orchids, also sees the value in sample sets. Covey’s Discovery Set contains four fragrances, in glass sample spray vials, packaged in a red box. Consumers have the option of packing the box themselves, by choosing which fragrances they would like to sample.
“Our Discovery Sets are extremely popular. The sets are boxed in ready-made jewelry boxes, padded with colored tissue paper. I get boxes, shipping supplies, paper and such from Paper Mart,” says Covey.
What’s in Store for Fragrance’s Future?
Whether we’ll continue to see more flankers, or original bottles created for fragrances in the future, Mazzei says he has no doubt the popularity of more complex decorations will continue. “We have been proud of our ability to master the production of complex bottle designs,” says Mazzei. He adds, “And we’ll continue to regard innovation as a priority for the future.”
We also hope to continue to see fashion designer brands like Anna Sui create more bottles that end up being regarded as “collectibles” by its fans.
“The designer’s fans are passionate about collecting them all,” says Inter Parfum’s Johnsen. “The bottles are so collectible because of their diversity,” he explains. “Our design and marketing team at Interparfums works with Anna Sui herself, to ensure that each new launch sports a new design.”
There have also been some flankers in Anna Sui’s fragrance collection. Johnsen says, “In some cases, the flankers have stayed on due to their success, because in the end, it comes down to the fragrance.”
Johnsen concludes by describing the one goal that probably always tops the list for every fragrance brand, and bottle designer, saying, “An understanding of the brand’s core ensures that each bottle will fit into ‘Anna Sui’s world’—without looking the same.”