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Akhila Vijayaraghavan headshot

Trendwatch: Luxury Brands Improve Sustainability of Packaging

One of the visual clues that attracts a customer to a product is the packaging. It is also packaging that sets apart drugstore brands from luxury brands. Packaging technology, design and manufacture are a billion dollar industry in their own right. It is also one of the most polluting processes there is - most packaging we encounter is single-use, which means it goes straight to the landfill. The Luxe Pack event in Monaco, held recently featured Henry Renella, Estee Lauder’s senior vice president, global package development. He said that since luxury brands and mass-market brands have different target markets, their packaging should reflect this. He also made a case for sustainable packaging by saying that luxury brands can be sustainable while being subtle about their eco-credentials. Sustainable packaging that reflects the brand's aesthetics is one of the important factors for a luxury brand.  In March this year, another cosmetic giant L'Oreal launched its own sustainable packaging guidelines. They now use the Sustainable Packaging Alliance’s Packaging Impact Quick Evaluation Tool (PIQET) as well as their own scorecard to grade the sustainability of their packaging. Another area of focus for luxury brands is sustainable packaging for perfumes. Perfumes make up a 20.8% value share of the $11.9bn global luxury packaging market in 2010. The sixth edition of the PCD Congress (Perfumes, Cosmetics & Design) last year brought together 1,400 participants who talked about reduction of waste and sustainable development in the luxury beauty segment. Many perfume brands have already started to use bio or agro-materials, reducing weight and volume as well as saving energy, improving recyclability and waste management. According to Pira International, paperboard seen as the most eco-friendly material and is finding a growing use in luxury markets. It accounts for 62.9 percent of the value of luxury packaging. Glass follows a close second, after which is plastic. Most of the paper board material is FSC certified which makes it an ideal choice for most luxury brand manufacturers. Industry analysts say that due to increasing economic affluence, Asia has a key role to play in hastening sustainable luxury packaging. Led by strong Chinese luxury goods sales, the Asia-Pacific region is now the clear leader in luxury packaging, accounting for 35 percent of world sales value in 2010. Many luxury brands have iconic packaging which increases brand recall once the customer takes the product home. What Renella was saying at the event comes down to the fact that luxury brand customers might also care for the environment. Sustainability therefore should be a 'hidden' component of luxury brand packaging. [Image credit: KooshKing, Flickr]
Akhila Vijayaraghavan headshotAkhila Vijayaraghavan

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net

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