The beauty of being a luxury brand is that you have a bigger opportunity than most companies to make people dream. Customers look to your brand to escape boredom and get inspired. One of the key elements of a luxury branding is therefore the retail packaging, where all the senses play an integral role into crafting the luxury brand message. From interactive to audible, from tactile to anticipation, all these different touch points carry the brand message from store to home. Thanks to the right branding strategy combined with premium design, the status of being a luxury brand is more attainable than you may think. Discover important rules and the latest trends in prestige beauty packaging in an interview with Bill Armstrong, President & CEO of Whipsmart, leading packaging agency from NYC. 

Once you have your brand story in place and your product quality topnotch, it’s time to focus on the packaging: the touchpoint that makes luxury consumer goods incredibly experiential. It’s easy to know luxury or prestige retail packaging when you see it, but what exactly are you looking at?


Luxury products require a well designed layered unveiling process to build suspense up to the final reveal in the user’s personal environment. Delaying instant gratification, through user initiated discovery of the details and functionality can lead to stronger brand impressions. This discovery can relate to many different elements such as: weight (the heavier the weight the more luxurious the product seems), original shape, alluring color, unexpected use of materials, additional tissue layers or accessories like spatulas or brushes. All these items should lead to increased interactivity with a customer before the final reveal of the product. Audible factors are also important in prestige beauty packaging. The sound when the customer opens the cellophane protecting the valuable product, the slide of a two pieces elegant rigid box or a famous click of a luxurious lipstick are only few of the audible opportunities differentiating the luxury packaging design.

YSL Rouge Volupte Lipstick

Quality and craftsmanship are both virtues of luxury and essential elements of luxury packaging design. The more natural materials used, the more expensive feeling. However, the accessibility and comfort of use recently gain on more importance. Tactile design features are able to create brand-defining cues. A classic tangible cue to luxury is to pair the uncoated paper with a sculpted metallic or high-gloss hot-stamp for example matte black with metallic gold, or crisp white with gloss black accents. Another way to enhance the packaging would be to add the element associated specifically with a brand/product such as satin or suede ribbon. Modern luxury codes, however, are less obvious and use minimalistic designs together with surprising interaction of light and contrast finishes. We believe that this is an excellent way to build the luxury customer experience.

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Chic Being asked Bill Armstrong, President & CEO of Whipsmart, a leading packaging agency with offices in NYC & Hongkong, and our dear partner in luxury packaging projects about new trends and packaging innovations in the prestige beauty industry.

1. What are the latest trends in the packaging design for prestige beauty companies?

Bill: We see three major trends today:

1. Increased use of customized forms to bring an “ownable” visual brand identity

2. Use of sustainable material choices

3. Use of “authentic” materials such as wood, ceramic, metal and glass.

2. What would you call the biggest packaging innovation of the last year for prestige beauty?

Bill: The rise of glass polymer, a resin that simulates the weight and feel of glass while offering the precision of plastic molding. 

3. What do you focus on when designing a package for a premium skin care product?

Bill: We try to focus on capturing the brand’s message and voice, while balancing innovation with timelessness. Often times innovation can lead to a package becoming “trendy.” Trendy looks don’t age well.

4. How long does it take to plan, sketch and produce a new premium packaging?

Bill: To properly plan, design, test and manufacture packaging, the process from concept to delivery of finished goods takes between 7 and 9 months.

5. What do you think about personalization of the packaging for prestige brands? For example the possibility of complimentary engravings?

Bill: I think personalization is a great idea, but it has to be made and sold properly on the right product. For instance, Le Labo’s fragrance personalization concept is very well executed at retail. Not all premium products lend themselves to personalization.

CHIC BEING is a boutique luxury brand consultancy experienced in marketing and sales management of beauty, fashion and lifestyle companies. We provide consulting, creative and communications services to the global luxury industry. We mentor niche luxury brands and start-ups to become tomorrow’s market leaders. Reach out to us for more inspirations and complementary advice!  

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