The Packaging Whore Confesses

Packaging Matters

Don’t judge a book by its cover, so they say. But darn it’s hard to do when beauty products are concerned. I never let the packaging influence my evaluation of a product. But there is definitely a correlation between packaging and my perception of quality before I buy it.

I know, I know, squeeze a $10 drugstore product in a Guerlain jar, splurge on some marketing and add a $250 price tag, people will still lap it up. Packaging, branding and price goes hand in hand in influencing perception, and has nothing to do with actual quality. But why am I still drawn to pretty packaging when ultimately it is the content that matters?

1. I’m a visual creature. Is it not genetically written in us to appreciate beauty? You can say “I look for qualities x, y and z in a partner, and looks does not matter”, and you are telling the truth. But a part of you still drool at supermodels, yes?

2. Beauty products form part of an on-going experience, not just to product an end result, so the jar matters too. The bottles of creams and serums on my vanity are not just there to give me better skin. They are part of my daily ritual of getting ready for work or for bed, and the process is almost meditative and zen-like. I am defining myself every time I get ready to face the world or retreat from it. A jar of Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Mask does not just promise better skin—it promises pampering and a touch of luxury in a (perhaps) otherwise dreary life.

3. Good packaging is often coherent with overall theme of product, line or brand. I like it when packaging clearly communicates attributes of the product, its concept or is consistent with brand image. I have to come back to the Guerlain Abeille Royale series (read review) to illustrate this. The packaging emphasize of use of royal jelly and honey in the product through the honeycomb inspired hexagonal packaging. Similarly, the Guerlain Aqua Allegoria perfume series uses a honeycomb lattice to remind us of bees busying around flowers, consistent with the central focus of floral notes in the series.

I do think that people need to cut through the marketing fog and form realistic expectations prior to a purchase. However, there is nothing wrong with quality packaging, branding and price. Don’t bash, you know (secretly) you go gaga for pretty things too.

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