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Estee Lauder: sustainability must be approached differently for luxury packaging

By Andrew McDougall , 24-Oct-2011

Packaging manufacturers need to approach sustainability differently in the luxury market, as although consumers are concerned with the trend, they do not necessarily expect or want a luxury pack to be shouting about it.

Speaking at this year’s Luxe Pack event in Monaco, Estee Lauder senior vice president, Global Package development, Henry Renella, explained how sustainability needs to be approached differently depending on the target market.

"Are luxury consumers ready for a radical swing in the look of their packaging?"

“It is important to know your customer and what they are most interested in, and this may be different for different brands – as it is for us at Estee Lauder,” he said.

“Just because sustainability is not branded all over the pack, it doesn’t mean the consumer is not interested in it, and it doesn’t mean it’s not part of the brand’s message.”

Different markets have different needs

Renella explained that some people like sustainability claims and some do not, and when comparing luxury packs with mass packs, it is not uncommon to find the former being more subtle – but he pointed out this doesn’t mean a brand can’t be sustainable in its packaging.

“Are luxury consumers ready for a radical swing in the look of their packaging,” he asked. “No, it’s an evolution, not a revolution. Luxury consumers don’t necessarily want the sustainability of the pack branded all over.”

The best route for companies to go down, according to the Estee Lauder man, is to use sustainable packaging but to make it look like ‘normal’ luxury packaging, as this is still one of the most important features of a luxury product – the aesthetics.

“Companies don’t have to mention the sustainability on the pack so boldly. It is not what the consumer wants, and it does not mean they are not sustainability-savvy,” he explained.

Buzzwords and bywords

Renella was speaking as part of a session constructed by fashion designer Marc Rosen on luxury packaging and the importance of innovation, creativity and sustainability, and whether these were just buzzwords or bywords in the industry.

Renella opened with definitions of the first two keywords, before explaining that they need to work in unison to be successful, as there is no point having one without the other.

The talk ended with him explaining that all three terms have to be at the forefront of beauty programs to ensure that they maintain their relevance, particularly in the luxury packaging segment.

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