All that luxury is just fine with Brooke Baxter of Grupo Pavisa. Grupo Pavisa, under the brand names Pavisa Glass and Nouvel Studios, specializes in premium packaging; think crystal, hand-blown bottles or semi-automatic containers. In fact, his company provides automatic, semi-automatic and hand-blowing all on the same manufacturing campus in Mexico City making it easier than ever to find just the right option for a luxury scent.
“We are the only glass house in the Americas, possibly the world, that has all three glass blowing processes in one location. Where competition has focused on automatic production, Pavisa has over 20 semi-automatic machines, and most importantly craft glass blowers and glass innovators that have been with us for decades making us really unique,” Baxter insisted. “There are a lot of good reasons to be in semiautomatic even on traditional automatic fragrances. There no scheduling issues and we can run small quantities meaning no need for unwanted inventories to meet automatic minimums which is a challenge for the glass industry that has converted to the automatic process.”
The well-to-do are always looking for unique, well-made pieces. According to a recent study by BI Intelligence, discretionary spending among the wealthy is growing faster than for the average US consumer. Discretionary spending among those earning $120,000 a year or more is expected to increase 6.6% in 2016, reaching $406 billion, according to YouGov. Among the top 1%, it’s expected to rise 10%. By contrast, discretionary spending for the average US consumer dropped 1% between 2014 and 2015. Wealthy consumers are expected to spend the most next year on fashion, travel and dining. Among these categories, spending on fashion (specifically, apparel, accessories and handbags) will grow the most, increasing 6.9% to $37.4 billion (roughly 9% of total discretionary spending).
And while luxury goods seem to be faring well, not everyone agrees with the notion that the fine fragrance market is doing fine.
“The rate of new product development has been less than in past years,” said one industry observer. “We are seeing a lot more reorder business than new prestige launches.”
That’s due, in part, to companies becoming less and less willing to carry inventories, but there have also been some significant personnel reductions and industry consolidation that may be causing decision-makers to hesitate before placing large business awards during uncertain times.
Executives at Aptar Beauty + Home noted that there were more than 2,000 launches last year—about 80% of which were flankers. But among the launches that resonated with Aptar were Sauvage (Dior), Dior Poison Girl (which uses the Aptar Precious pump), Olympea (Paco Rabanne), Alaïa (Aptar VP4 pump) and Le Jardin de Monsieur Li for Hermés, which won a FiFi award in France last year.
According to Aptar’s Des McEttrick packaging personalization is a major trend.
“Retailers and brands offer the possibility to engrave one’s message on the bottle,” explained McEttrick, pointing toward Sephora’s launch of “L’Atelier Gravure.” Personalization of accessories is also on top of the trends. For example, Serge Lutens can customize a leather sleeve pouch to go with a fragrance purchase.
Perhaps no company is more attached to the notion of luxury than Louis Vuitton, which, not coincidentally, will introduce its first fragrance in decades. The project remains hush-hush, but with perfumer Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud leading the project, don’t be surprised if the new LV scent carries a note of Calone 1951. No word yet on what the package design will look like, but it’s a safe bet that glass will be the vessel of choice.
“Glass is still the predominant way to package lux fragrances,” said Jenifer Brady of Brad-Pak. “Glass bottles give the feel that it’s a more premium scent.”
And premium is what consumers are looking for in a fragrance, according to Melanie Werner of Mixelle.
“Consumers have become more discerning. (They are) trading up to higher priced fragrance,” she explained. Shoppers refined tastes helped prestige fragrance sales rise 4% last year, according to The NPD Group.
In contrast, mass market fragrance sales fell, due to a combination of consumers trading up and the growing might of indie brands.
“But even more importantly, this consumer is looking for a cost effective new and inventive easy way to customize one’s own fragrance for any mood or occasion,” said Werner. “The twice patented technology is now available and our new brand is in development that serves this market. Once financing is buttoned up, Mixelle: Fragrance for Me. By me. Will enter the market.”
What They Want
Decotech’s focus is strictly on the prestige markets for cosmetics, perfumes, spirits and candles. That broad product range is matched by the company’s broad range of services.
According to Richard Engel, president and COO, “It’s important to our level of clientele that we offer as many decorating techniques as possible. Over the decades we have developed expertise for all the main deco processes as well as some harder to find techniques.”
With significant investments in digital, silkscreen and pad printing; metallizing; hot stamping; spray coating; frosting; masking; gluing; decaling and labeling among other techniques, Decotech is in a position to offer shorter lead times and more complex decorations than many competitors.
“Because we have every decorating technique under one roof right across the river from all our clients, we are in a position to offer lead times as short as one week for pre-qualified items,” said Engel. “What’s really special is our ability to combine so many of these deco techniques to produce very complex items extremely quickly and with prestige-level quality.
“We are now seeing our prestige clients asking us to extend our glass decorating services into other items such as plastic bottles and compacts and also plastic, glass and aluminum caps,” he added. “Most of our decorating techniques apply equally to glass and plastic, but we have made some recent large investments this past year in UV spray coating in order to color coat plastic bottles in our facility for the first time.”
ABA Packaging represents a variety of manufacturers, primarily from Europe and North America, including companies such as Heinzglas, Ramón Clemente and Envases. In addition to glass and aluminum bottles, ABA can provide caps, pumps and decorating service. By offering so many lines and so many decorating options, ABA has become the go-to source for startups and mid-sized brands, according to Michael Warford.
“We are like the auto mall of fine fragrance packaging,” explained Warford. “We have such a multitude of samples that customers can choose a bottle that isn’t mainstream. This is a vision-based business and we have a large array to choose.”
When working with startups, Warford likes to walk them through Sephora and similar retailers to demonstrate the vast array of styles and options that can help newcomers create their own brand.
“There is no specific industry trend; it is individual branding” he explained.
Too many newcomers think the packaging is secondary when it comes to brand building, which can be a costly mistake, according to Warford.
“That’s just not so, the bottle is at least as important as the fragrance itself when creating a brand!” he insisted.
Once a bottle has been selected, ABA works with its customers to make recommendations on caps, pumps and decorating options.
“We provide the complete package,” Warford added. “Midlevel and startups don’t have the staff with all the necessary technical acumen; we can give them guidance.”
Players big and small need some guidance when it comes to navigating the complex world of fine fragrance, where thousands of fragrances find their way on to store shelves.
“With a great abundance of fragrances flooding the market, brands are looking for packaging to stand out on the shelf or have a story all its own,” explained Brady.
She suggested that one way to achieve individuality is via accessories or charms on the fragrance bottles. Also, spray coating a gradient color on the bottle has the ability to catch the consumer’s eye.
“Fancy and intricately made caps are also becoming very popular,” Brady added.
According to Aptar B+H, marketers seek packaging experts who have the ability to combine all the visual beauty of refined technology with the sensory qualities of a next-generation dispensing solution.
“Increasingly brands come to appreciate just how significant an impact a spray or a pump can make on the perceived quality of their fragrance or skin care product,” said McEttrick.
One of the company’s newest creations includes the Eternelle Couture bulb atomizer. It’s billed as a haute couture version of Eternelle, with the same attributes such as guaranteed leak-proof and olfactive neutrality. But with Note, Aptar Beauty + Home executives say that they have reinvented a timeless technique from an era when fragrance used to be applied to the skin with a delicate, simple finesse using a glass stopper.
“It’s a new way to experience fragrance, blending intimacy, elegance and sensuality,” she explained. “With Note, the technique is subtle, sophisticated and controlled, offering gentle and gradual application in all the right places—‘Wherever one wants to be kissed,’ as Gabrielle Chanel so beautifully put it.”
According to McEttrick, for this major innovation, Aptar executives could not have dreamed of a better launch than with Dior J’Adore Touche de Parfum.
The new Petite & Precious ultra-compact metal free pathway sprayer and invisible pump body offers continuous diffusion with a fine homogenous mist. Features include top-quality spray action, actuation with maximum delicacy, and olfactory neutrality. Brands have already been quick to adopt it, including Nina Ricci’s Mini Nina, Lady Million, Ferragamo’s Trottole collection, and Kenzo’s Jeu d’amour.
Through the Looking Glass
But at Grupo Pavisa, the emphasis remains on the glass bottle.
“Why decorate the surface when you can do something with the glass itself?” asked Baxter. “We are refocusing the investment clients make in decorating and putting it back into the glass.”
Over recent years Grupo Pavisa developed Avon’s Marrakesh fragrance package, a unique glass-within-glass creation, and has brought innovation and produced diverse bottles for market leaders such as Estée Lauder, L Brands and others, with many current projects still under wraps.
“Companies come to us with designs that others insist can’t be done,” said Baxter. Things like complex designs, blown bottles with single bubbles and incorporate multiple colors of glass in a single package. On another level, Grupo Pavisa thermal shocks glass to shatter it and seals it.
“You see the many of these technique in art glass, but Pavisa and Nouvel do it with blow-molding,” he explained.
All these techniques don’t necessarily result in high prices. According to Baxter, if a bottle costs $1, certain special processes may add less than $1 to the cost.
“That’s a fraction of what would have spent on a metal collar,” he insisted. “You can do so much with glass.”
Traditional bottles may house most EDPs, while spray formats are preferred for EDTs, but Brady insisted that roll-ons are making a comeback for two reasons. One, since roll-ons are typically well under the TSA capacity of 3oz, consumers can carry them right on the plane without any issues. Two, brands are offering their popular fragrances in roll-ons so the price point will be lower.
“This enables the customer to try out the fragrance before committing to a higher-priced size,” she explained. “Roll-ons also encourage consumers to mix two of their fragrances together for a unique scent.”
Werner insists that customization is at the forefront of every discussion and that Mixelle’s MixByMe technology can help in two completely different ways. One, Mixelle has developed a series of fragrance that can be mixed and matched and used with the company’s three-chambered system. Alternatively, a branded fragrance can break down the notes of an established brand and allow the consumer to dial-up their own personalized version of an existing scent.
“We’ve worked through the details of the mechanics; how fragrances can be mixed and blended inside the three-chambered bottle,” explained Werner. “A consumer looking for an amazing quality fragrance can now have over 125 foolproof combinations in a single bottle. Now that’s customization!”
With so many fragrance companies trying to come out with different scents, the formula itself can be difficult to spray, according to Brad-Pak’s Brady, who noted that her company offers a variety of spray pumps for various fragrances that do not react well and spray with the typical spray pumps found on the market.
“We offer a new pump that is great for spraying heavier oils which we are seeing coming out in the air care market, sunscreen market and bug care market, as well as straight essential oils,” she added.
With the return of the purse spray for fragrance re-application during the day, nomadism and on-the-go trend growth push brands to look into smaller and lighter, more convenient travel size, explained Aptar’s Heloise Roth. “Our Sampling + Promotion collections feature mini dispensing solution to pair with the beauty-to-go trend: Replica Stilo, Travel Spay and Teleglass.”
A wide selection of options is driving new customers and old to ABA’s door, according to Warford.
“We get a lot of referrals from fillers all over the country who tell their customers, ‘Call ABA, they can do anything.’”
And at any volume, too. Warford proudly notes that ABA ships by the case, the palette or the hundreds of thousands.
“We offer a lot of options. If you’re a fragrance entrepreneur, come see us. We have a lot of options—rounds, squares, rectangles and unique shapes. And we can provide a fully decorated bottle to give you that brand identity.”
As the consumer product industry continues to diverge into high- and low-end segments, fragrance marketers must make the decision to support prestige segments, say industry observers.
“Market leaders need prestige brands, they need top-tier brands. Premiumization is the trend,” said Baxter. “Some brands don’t belong on mass merchandiser shelves.”