Using Packaging to sell your store

This is a test:Close your eyes and envision a robin’s-egg blue jewelry box with a single name printed at the center. Next, picture a fire-engine red box with a single name written in gold script. Okay, maybe these were too easy. But do you think it’s an accident that Tiffany & Co. and Cartier chose those colors and styles, creating widely recognized boxes that are as sought-after (almost) as what’s inside?

The boxes, pouches, gift wrap, and bags bearing your name are one of the most potent forms of advertising for your store. If they’re beautiful and high-status enough, they are retained long after the purchase is made. The question is, how do you select a color, design, and image that will remain imprinted in your customer’s mind?

Promoting your store’s name. It takes thought, taste, and planning to make them stand out, but with the right resources, it can be done, say packaging and design specialists. Using your store’s image and decor as a guide, review what’s available in the market and see how you can put it together to create a lasting impression.

The cardinal rule, according to packaging suppliers, is to feature your store name prominently on all packaging materials. That means on the top or the inside of ring, bracelet, and earring boxes; on the side of suede pouches and shopping bags; perhaps in a subtle repeating pattern on gift wrap.

As with the jewelry inside the package, expenditures on packaging materials can vary, but remember that the higher the quality of the box, the more likely the owner is to keep it. Soft textures such as leatherette, velvet, and suede are the strongest trends currently, say suppliers, because they make a good presentation and are attractive enough to be reused. Also growing in popularity are boxes with rounded edges and curving lines.

Packaging is a way of differentiating yourself from your competitors, maintains Michael Kaplan, president of Rocket Box in the Bronx, N.Y. He advises all his clients to put their store names on boxes and make the package attractive enough to impress the customer. The goal is to get people to keep the box, which acts like a billboard. It’s the best free ad a retailer can have.

According to Kaplan, the current trend is for simple, unique designs made of classic materials such as leather, clear Lucite, and luxury woods. Also observing this trend is Les Unger, president of Bufkor in Clearwater, Fla., whose company has introduced several unusual embossed patterns over the past few years. “About a year and a half ago, we saw a couple new patterns in Europe that had the look of certain skins popular in the 1920s, such as lizard and alligator,” he says. This year, the trend continued with another exotic pattern that resembles the skin of a stingray.

Bufkor is now producing boxes with these patterns, but Unger says sales of these and other unusual materials are not always immediate. New materials and textures “take some time to become accepted,” he says. “Usually, a few retailers will like it and test it, and in the next year or at the next trade show, others will see it and decide to try it.”

Choosing a color. Ranges of pastels, neutrals, and deep shades change seasonally, but many retailers keep the same colors year after year. In some cases, the color ties in with a store’s decor. Alternatively, the color doesn’t have to be anywhere in the store. The choice of color and logo can also come from a business card, catalog, or advertising, reflected in all packaging and display items.

White is the current favorite, says Matthew Chesal, design director at Gerald Fried in Tonawanda, N.Y., but making a strong comeback are many shades of green and, newest of all, purple. Chesal’s company offers a rainbow of colors for bags, pouches, and packaging. “The choice of color is less important than the fact that all elements [are] color-coordinated,” he says.

“More independent jewelers are asking for a coordinated look,” agrees Larry B. Johnson, vice president at Presentation Box & Display of Pawtucket, R.I. “We offer a sliding scale for packaging that is all color-coordinated and allows a cohesive presentation,” he says, referring to his company’s assortment of high-end, mid-priced, and low-end boxes, pouches, folders, and shopping bags. The most popular shades are navy, hunter green, and burgundy.

Also offering a color-coordinated program is Cutler Display & Packaging in Johnston, R.I. One of its best sellers is a complementing package with the outside container coordinating with the inner containers, says Debbie Booth, sales and marketing manager. Most popular colors in this series are the classics: forest green, pearl gray, black, and putty.

A matte finish is replacing a glossy one in boxes and bags, says Booth. Some of the new boxes have a light, ribbed texture that combines with the matte finish to give them a distinctive, contemporary look.

To the delight of many packaging suppliers, more retailers now understand the importance of upgrading their gift boxes and packaging. According to Patti Levi, vice president at Unique Packaging in Dallas, a new line of custom-made boxes introduced in June at The JCK Show in Las Vegas was met with enthusiasm. “We were so encouraged by the response,” she says. “They were not interested in cheap; they were looking for better quality.”

Finally, for retailers seeking something different, there’s an entire range of novelty boxes and special colorations geared to special-occasion or holiday purchases. For example, Rocket Box’s single- and double-ring “heart” designs in pink or red suede cloth, whimsical top hat, and Santa’s boot boxes are among the company’s most popular models for Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Bufkor’s special seasonal package of holiday colorations – such as greens, burgundies, and golds – is a popular one, as are Cutler’s elegant boxes in burgundy velvet or suede.