Story Tellers

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | August 1, 2012

When it comes to fine fragrance packaging, details communicate the essence of the juice and the brand behind it.

A perfume or cologne can be described as whimsical, but when it comes to how to package it, nothing’s left to chance, especially in the competitive world of fine fragrance.

According to the NPD Group, total prestige fragrance sales between January-May 2012 were $883 million, up 9% over the same period of 2011, making it one of the hottest categories in CFT. As such, every detail of the packaging from bottle to cap to box must be executed with thought and precision.
Maybe it is a special studded finish, matching a brand-specific shade or deciding to forgo an atomizer—every detail helps tell the story of scent and can also reinforce the essence of the brand to consumers.

That was the thought process at clothing retailer The Buckle, which teamed up with the Affliction apparel line for Sinful for Her, the brand’s first female scent. Executives involved in the fragrance’s creation knew that the juice and the packaging needed to echo the Sinful persona, which is described as both girly and edgy.


Sinful for Her, a new scent at Buckle stores, has packaging that matches the brand’s persona.
“Sinful for Her was designed to both embody and appeal to her,” said Renee Bukowski, senior product development manager at Tru Fragrance, which worked with the brand to develop Sinful for Her. “As the first Sinful fragrance, it was equally important to represent the brand with the inclusion of signature elements such as wings, embellishment, metal and the Sinful logo.”

The Sinful for Her eau de parfum ($49.95), which is sold exclusively at Buckle stores, comes in a 2oz bottle that is dominated by Sinful’s signature wings in a metalized finish. The Sinful medallion is encrusted with jewels across the front of the vibrant pink bottle. According to the company, the gradation from pink to black on the bottle as well as the combination of hearts, animal print and skulls on the packaging convey the brand’s juxtaposition.

“Both bottle and juice convey the personality of the Sinful brand and girl,” continued Bukowski. “The fragrance leads with gardenia, a big floral that grabs attention as soon as you walk into a room. It includes fun, more approachable notes, such as mandarin, grapefruit and raspberry, representing the sweet, girly girl, while her edgy side comes through in notes of patchouli. She loves the contrasts, both in the juice and the look—it allows her to debate: which kind of girl do I want to be tonight? This is also a theme of the bottle and packaging design—angel wings are cast in heavy metal; a dark metallic medallion is trimmed with rhinestones.”

Sinful for Her also comes in a roll-on. While it is a different juice (more patchouli than flirty notes), Sinful brand elements from the full-size bottle are represented, such as the cheetah print and skulls with hearts for eyes, according to Bukowski, whose company worked with Buckle on several other scents including Affliction, Buckle Black and Crash & Burn.

Budget Friendly
Another fashion retailer, Styles for Less, is also dipping its feet into fine fragrance, with Crush by SFL, a new scent that hit the company’s 130 stores in late July.

This Anaheim, CA-based retailer, which offers “fashionably-affordable” clothing, shoes and accessories for juniors and women, needed to stick to a tight budget so that the price of the fragrance would mirror its own position in the fashion marketplace.

According to Amy Wilson, marketing manger, Styles for Less, what makes Crush by SFL special is the scent (a sweet floral), the price ($9.99) and the overall aesthetic.

According to Wilson, the bottle was perfect because it married a “great size at 1.7 fluid ounces, yet still maintained a sleek compact shape for our customers to slip in their handbags for on-the-go touch ups. Also, the bottle itself has a nice feel in your hand and the curvy silhouette is undeniably feminine, like the scent itself.”

The design team incorporated elements of the Styles For Less brand into the design of the bottle and packaging.

“The heart has become a staple symbol for the brand as it adds a bit of freshness to the acronym SFL (Styles For Less),” said Wilson. “The lace-like damask pattern that wraps around the bottom of the bottle and runs up the sides of each box was borrowed from our new direction for store design which offers a boutique-like feel.And, of course, we incorporated our magenta, which is the official color of the Styles For Less brand because it is both bold and feminine, like our customers.”

Matching customers’ expectations on price was imperative for Styles for Less, noted Wilson.
“At the onset of product development, Styles For Less was committed to offering a great value to our customers,” she said.“The price point of $9.99 for a 1.7 fl. oz. presented an opportunity for us to be as creative as possible while working within the limits of pre-fabricated components. We knew if the scent was fabulous we were off to a great start and we could work to get the other pieces to align.”

Aesthetic Appeal
But securing packaging components that work with the juice and the brand can be a challenging process, as executives at independent fragrance house EastWest Bottlers LLC can attest. This Dallas-based startup ran into a glitch when it searched for a partner to pack its debut product, Moonshine, a cologne that features notes of gin, black pepper, leather, tobacco and patchouli.

Moonshine is a new independent cologne featuring simple packaging that makes use of great textures.
“We wanted to find a bottle that evoked the same aesthetic of our namesake—Moonshine, a gentleman’s cologne.For us, that meant finding a bottle that shared a similar, flasklike quality that remained beautifully simple.Our clear glass, flask-shaped bottle perfectly captures the essence of our juice,” said Matthew R. Moore, owner.

And while Moore and his team (which includes fellow University of Georgia graduates Charlie Holderness and Colin Newberry) were ready to pull the trigger on a flacon, the supplier wasn’t.

“We had settled on a bottle manufacturer only to find out prior to manufacturing that they couldn’t meet our time frames and order request.It was a huge setback, but in the end we ended up finding an even better partner to make an even better bottle,” he told Happi.

That look—a simple flask-like bottle—clearly speaks to the essence of the cologne’s positioning, but executives wanted the packaging design to take it a step further.

For Styles for Less, a 1.7oz bottle keeps the price point of Crush in line with customer expectations.
“In addition to the actual look of the bottle, we also wanted the ‘use’ of the bottle to inspire an experience,” said Moore.First and foremost, we always knew that an atomizer would not be a part of our design—as we grew up with the memories of our grandfathers and fathers ‘splashing’ on cologne.We sought out a bottle, which would pass on that same manly experience to the modern man. Just as the sailors splashed on Old Spice coming off the boats to flirt with women, Moonshine shares that same tradition with a modern twist.”

Moonshine is available at independent boutiques, and therefore, unique secondary packaging remains an important element in building appeal.

EastWest executives opted for a smooth pine exterior display box and a rugged burlap sack that protects and “hides” the spirit, according to Moore, who told Happi that the firm’s first female scent, Speakeasy, would be available sometime this month.

Moore recognizes that packaging is part and parcel to creating a unique experience for the fragrance customer.

“We always wanted to create a packaging that was on par with the outstanding quality of our fragrance,” he said. “Every element—including design, packaging, and fragrance are carefully considered to give the final user the most authentic experience.”
Eye Catching Designs

Here’s a look at recent launches that caught our editors’ attention for their unique bottle and packaging design.

• This 2012 ICMAD-CITY Award winning It’s Me package from the House of Jacomo (below) was inspired by the most famous smartphone—the iPhone. The women’s fragrance is offered in white, while the men’s is housed in a black version. Both have an integrated pump.

• The trademark Marc Jacob bottle dons on a beloved iconic pattern—polka dot—in his new scent, Dot, which rolled out last month. The red tinted glass bottle (right) features an oversized butterfly inspired cap with a collar wrapped in gold. Rounded-shape butterflies with a pearl detail adorn the bottle. The polka dot pattern and butterfly theme are carried through to the secondary packaging.

• Inspired by late night culture, the sexy allure of glowing neon lights and graffiti printed masterpieces from pop artists like Stephen Sprouse, FCUK’s Late Night bottle (below) speaks volumes. The design incorporates signage, symbols and typography thatscreams “Vegas Baby!”

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