In connection with the New York packaging show, Luxe Pack, Scanpack obtained an interview with Linda Tseng, Production Director at forceMAJEURE Design. We discussed the premium segment, trends and a real dream project.
forceMAJEURE is one of New York’s most exciting design agencies. Established in 1998 and formerly known as Raison Pure NYC, they also have an office in Paris. They work internationally with a portfolio of brands such as Jim Beam, L’Oréal, Donna Karan, Evian, Penfolds and Johnnie Walker. When Scanpack visited them they had just relocated from Manhattan to trendy Industry City in Brooklyn.
What do you think guides the future of the premium segment and its packaging?
“In the US retail trade what Walmart says counts. If they want to implement a change, their suppliers must make sure it’s executed. A Walmart contract is enormously valuable and you don’t want to lose it. For example, Walmart uses various metrics to determine the shelf space in its stores. These include sustainability indicators, such as how much packaging material is used, and how much air the package contains. The better the metrics, the better the location on the store shelves.”
How do your premium segment clients look at the sustainability aspect of a package?
“Eco is no longer a trend, it’s standard. The change started to be seen some eight years ago and the impact is here. South Korea and Taiwan have the world’s toughest regulations on this and clients in those markets are very aware of what applies. Luxury is green,” says Linda.
forceMAJEURE has clients in China and has seen a small downturn on that market. One reason is that new laws have been implemented prohibiting ‘gifts’ of luxury goods between sales people and suppliers. China wants to counter corruption and bribery, while improving its tarnished reputation. This has restrained consumption so much that it has been evident in the statistics – up to 25% in some categories. Bling bling is still hot and ‘more is more’ on the Chinese market in contrast to the pared-down design, which is often seen in Scandinavia and which signals premium here.
Trends that Linda sees in the premium segment are a focus on details, digital printing, short product runs and personal packaging.
Linda talked about a new concept, at least for us – the travel retail market. A segment that has exploded. It may be described as goods found at airports, in tax-free shops and in other places with lots of tourists, where there is high demand for limited editions, travel kits and add-ons of various sorts. This segment also includes goods that can only be purchased on the spot – not online or in other stores – and are therefore exclusive.
According to Linda, it’s quite clear that brand owners have to reinvent themselves. Customers are disloyal and a new generation is driving other criteria for what is considered premium.
We concluded with a question about what Linda’s dream project would be. “Oh, we’ve already done that,” she says showing us a decanter in hand-blown Baccarat crystal containing a 60-year-old single malt blend. The whisky was distilled on Queen Elizabeth’s Balmoral Estate in Scotland in 1952, the year of her accession to the throne. The decanter was crafted in 2012 in connection with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (60 years on the throne). The jubilee set comprised a diamond-cut crystal decanter, matching glasses and the whisky, of course, all beautifully packaged in a box made of oak and pine from the Queen’s Balmoral and Sandringham estates. Some of Great Britain’s very best craftsmen took part in the project and only 61 decanters were manufactured. Sales were by invitation only. The first decanter was presented to the Queen, while the remaining 60 were sold for around GBP 100,000 each. The proceeds were then donated to the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, which supports the education of crafts people. According to Johnnie Walker, customers had bought a piece of British history.