by Vanna Pizzetti and Titti Cocola
What characteristics must paper have, in the future, in order to meet the requirements of luxury brands? And in what sectors will there be most demand? We asked some companies at the last Luxe Pack Monaco. Those interviewed, as well as supplying us with a glimpse of the new trends, took the opportunity to also present us with their innovations and some emblematic applications.
It may be the perfect seam for a garment, the exclusivity of a material, the soft feel of a scarf. Where there is refinement, there is luxury. And where there is luxury, there is paper. Often with sublime tactile and visual effects. Two universes which are travelling in parallel. The sumptuousness of the first needs the magic of the other. Because paper is versatile, ecological and recyclable, has good printability, lends itself to special, prestigious finishes, can take on daring shapes and, at the same time, satisfactorily protect a product. Paper is found everywhere, both in packaging products and for the corporate image of brands, in fashion, cosmetics, perfumes, wines and spirits, chocolates, watches, jewellery, and more recently also in the luxury packaging of high quality gastronomic products.
To understand the demands for sustainable luxury
According to the English paper mill James Cropper, represented in Italy by Fontana Grafica, involved in the manufacture of FSC certified, recyclable and biodegradable paper and cardboard for various applications (invitations, greetings cards, brochures, packaging) they are moving towards the most ecological choices. «Companies are increasingly being pressured to consider the green aspect of packaging», says afferma Susan Wilson, director for area packaging, and since paper is one of the most sustainable and versatile materials available today, it is becoming the most logical choice. This also applies in the luxury product sector; indeed, sustainability goes hand in hand with high end goods since consumers are asking for products considered to be ecological» This is no different in the luxury goods sector; in fact being environmentally-friendly has become synonymous with high-end merchandise, as consumers are demanding products that are deemed green. The James Cropper paper mill has interpreted these requirements by offering a custom-made service (colour, texture, feel) which helps customers choose the papers which best meet their environmental requirements, whether it is FSC paper, products using reclaimed, fibre or post-processing waste.
«In the fashion and retail sectors there has always been a high demand for luxury packaging, which is the core of our production and where we offer a personalised service. However, recently we have noted an increase in requests from brands which produce premium food. For years we have had a presence in this sector with customised paper, but because of the long processes for obtaining certification of compliance for paper which is in contact with foods, we risked being late in supplying «customised» products. Thus we have decided to invest and develop a ready-to-use line of paper (ready certified) for high quality luxury food». Launched this year at LuxePack, the new line is called Dolcelicious and can be used to come into contact with dry, moist or fatty foods, used for confectionery, oven products and beverages.
High grade white and excellent for printing
Even for Metsa Serla, which specialises in the manufacture of high quality cardboard for packaging and the graphics industry, the environmental topic is increasingly predominant in luxury buyers’ choices. «This is because we are being confronted by consumers who are increasingly paying more attention to sustainability issues», says Christophe Baudry, marketing director for Beautycare & Healthcare at Metsa Serla. «Metsa Serla, for its own cardboards, uses renewable virgin fibres from forests managed sustainably. Metsa Board cardboards also combine excellent rigidity which helps to make robust packaging which is pleasing to the touch. Another important feature of them is the high grade of white and the printability, combined with a surface suitable for reproducing special effects as, for example, lamination. Our cardboards are particularly useful for packaging cosmetics and perfumes, chocolates, confectionery and champagne».
Proposing the use of paper for applications never seen before
For the Swiss Kapag Karton + Papier AG, a paper mill founded in 1852 and today focused exclusively on the production, coating and finishing of multi-ply paper and cardboard, paper will continue to play a predominant role in the luxury packaging market because of its environmental characteristics, its excellent printability and the emotion it arouses in the consumer. However, comments Alexander Meyer, Director-General and owner, «it is important to innovate in order to attract a consumer who is visually confused. This can be done by using paper in applications where it has never been used before or by developing paper which makes a packaging unique». A development in the line offered by Kapag Karton is the FibreForm, which, amongst other things, won the Pack Fiction prize in the «innovative materials» category at the Pack & Gift exhibition in Paris. It consists of a cardboard in laminated virgin fibre, suitable for foods, characterised by a high grade of tension and resistance to tears. These characteristics allow for deep embossing (three times the thickness of the cardboard) which simulates a 3D effect (ideal also as an anti-counterfeiting element in the packaging).
The laminated paper and cardboard from Kapag Karton + Papier AG are used in various market segments: industrial (antistatic and anticorrosive), graphics (POS cardboard, greetings cards and loyalty cards) or luxury (cosmetics, fashion, watches, alcohol and confectionery).
«We are noting a constant increase in demand for support for luxury packaging. What consumers want are products and packaging with strong ethical and sustainable connotations. This trend has brought about an increase in sales of products in our 100% recycled EcoLine line, increasingly used for luxury packaging. The same applies to promotional material which accompanies luxury items. An excellent example is our Ginkgo card, developed, together with the French Papeterie de Mandeure paper mill. This product works in the same way as PVC loyalty cards but is 100% recyclable and biodegradable».
Uniform and smooth surfaces for top of the range luxury
The Finnish Koktamills Oy, producer of cardboard for packaging, believes that for paper and cardboard to remain top choices of luxury companies, they must offer a uniform and smooth surface, so that excellent printing quality is ensured, and to enable embossing and other special finishes which emphasise the uniqueness and high quality of the luxury product. Moreover, the structural capacity of the paper must be such that it permits production of packaging which can protect the product as well as allow the packaging to have a sophisticated shape and design. Johanna Mäkelä, communications manager, emphasises that it is with these objectives in mind that the paper mill has developed a line of cardboard for folding cartons intended for packaging. In particular Aegle Luxe, a new cardboard for folding cartons with a white back, characterised by a sophisticated silk matte coating which makes the surface of the cardboard extremely smooth and uniform, ideal for prestigious finishes. This cardboard is used for packaging luxury beverages, cosmetics, perfumes, and chocolates.
Visual aspect and natural touch are important
To meet this requirement Stora Enso, a Finnish/Swedish company which produces high quality cardboard for packaging cosmetics, fragrances and personal care products as well as champagne, wine and spirits, has recently launched a new cardboard, CKB Nude at the FachPack trade fair in Nuremberg, which took place at the end of September. It is a brown, non-glossy cardboard which, precisely because of this characteristic, catches the eye of consumers who prefer products with a natural and sustainable look. Many luxury and cosmetics brands which share these values – authenticity and sustainability – have already chosen it to create strong impact packaging.
But if the external aspect is what strikes you first, no less important is the experience of unboxing, and the major brands are investing a great deal of energy in this. «The inside of the packaging can make the difference if a mirror-like experience is offered, made from cardboard coated with metallised polyester film»,Sanna Heiskanen, Marketing Communications Manager of the paper mill told us. «Stora Enso customers have found an answer thanks to Ensocoat 2S, a cardboard coated on both sides which allows for any type of finish».
No less important, according to Heiskanen, is intelligent packaging which, thanks to Rfid/NFC solutions, to lighting effects, to interaction with consumers’ smartphones or with sensors integrated in the packaging allow added value to be offered and encourage brand loyalty.
Particularly appreciated by high-end brands are Ensocoat, a cardboard produced with bleached cellulose, very smooth and very white, and resistant to UV rays, and Performa Brilliance, wood pulp cardboard (FBB) characterised by improved printability and visual quality.
Attention to printing performance and sustainability
«For luxury buyers, the aesthetic, attention to beauty, and therefore printing performance that a paper can guarantee, are fundamental aspects». This is emphasised by Monica Crepaldi, communications and marketing manager for Arjowiggins Graphic Italy. «In addition to this, we at Arjowiggins Graphic notice that there is increasing attention being paid to sustainability, even in the luxury sector».
Care for the environment and the safeguarding of natural resources are two of the cornerstones on which Arjowiggins Graphic’s strategy hangs. Through an innovative and eco sustainable production process without chlorine, we have created a pulp for high quality recycled paper which is very white. It is the result of a technological research process and cutting edge manufacturing which only uses paper from offices and archives, which give good whiteness from the outset. Before the introduction of this innovation, such a high level of whiteness could only be obtained from manufacturing with virgin fibres. Igloo, Arjowiggins Graphic’s range of 100% recycled extra white paper, stems from this exclusive process».
But what sectors does the French paper mill believe in most, and in what sectors will luxury paper be increasingly required? «The 100% recycled papers we produce have been chosen by the world of luxury first and foremost for printing catalogues: Armani and Gucci are users of Arjowiggins Graphic paper. But the applications which use recycled paper are varied: Hugo Boss, for example, has created its shops’ shopping bags from 100% recycled paper with an extra white coating. Recently Arjowiggins Graphic decided to also approach the world of packaging, choosing to acquire a well-known English brand which specialises in producing high quality cardboard, and launched Teknocard available in three different finishes, both in a recycled version and a non-recycled version».