The science behind luxury packaging

There are particular brands that stand out in your mind, and you're drawn to them as a consumer. But what is it about them? It's not the price of the product, or the design, or the material it's made from. It's something else. The packaging for these products elicits feelings in you, and you crave these feelings. They make you want to open the box.

Psychology is the study of emotions. The triggers that surround us every day that take us from point A to point B. It’s the science of how you feel/think/remember about an object. This is particularly true for luxury packaging design, a way of evoking a sense of emotion and adding value to a product by changing how customers perceive a brand.

Luxury packaging doesn't just entice consumers visually; it also puts them into a certain frame of mind. This is largely due to sensory marketing, which states that consumers respond positively to the experience of consuming the product, from start to finish. For example, a luxurious brand could sell chocolate from a gold-lined box that makes it feel high-quality and indulgent. Sound, smell, touch, and vision come together to create a fully encapsulating perception.

Packaging that’s intended to evoke a luxurious feeling must hit all of the right notes with consumers. Here are the sensory cues your packaging should trigger before it appears extravagant;


Olfaction is the process by which we receive and perceive smells. It’s the channel through which we smell and interpret information about our environments. Sometimes this channel is what establishes a first impression of another person or a product. Did you know that your sense of smell is the strongest link to your memory?

Remember that old trick of putting out freshly baked cookies during a house sale so that potential buyers associate the smell with what could be their future home?

It's not the cookies that are the real magic here, though. It's your brain, filling in the blanks to make connections between the past and what you imagine for the future. The aroma of home baked cookies is merely an avenue for you to conjure up images of the perfect family gathered 'round the hearth, living under one roof where you can keep them safely inside your walls and out of harm's reach.

Though the smallest of our five senses, smell is a powerful part of how we experience the world. Through smell, products can be associated with a time in history or a memory from your past, and can evoke memories and create reactions that get your customers to take action.

The role of fragrance in marketing has evolved rapidly, even as its core principles remain the same. Fragrance marketing is not just for flowers and cosmetics anymore. It's become a way to create an emotional connection between brands and customers, a bonding experience that can be used to build a lasting relationship. Creativity and imagination are the key ingredients, and it’s important to make everything personal to make your customers feel something special.


A sense of touch is essential to any brand, or rather, anything that's tactile can create an impression that lingers. Whether the packaging’s texture and finish, its angular design, or any raised layers thereon… the way people feel about your brand adds metaphorical layers upon which they make judgements about its value.

In the context of luxury packaging, it is not enough for your customers to see that your products look expensive and deluxe. When they pick up an object and feel the heft and luxurious design of it, they will know you value quality.


Packaging design makes a huge difference to your customer's sense of value. A high-pitched, irritating sound pierces into the recipient’s eardrums as they open a cheap plastic shopping bag. In contrast, expensive stores use heavyweight paper that whispers when you slide out your new blouse or sweater.

We are biologically wired to associate deeper sounds with higher product value. So bear this in mind when sourcing packaging materials — they may sound good on paper, but poor when standing on the shelf.


Believe it or not, the taste of your product matters. It’s believed that packaging can subconsciously impact taste experiences. Packaging can even reach out and improve the taste experience, of which Powerade has mastered through its “Big Mouth” system, which features multiple openings


As far back as the 70’s, companies started adding odours into the packaging of their products using scratch and sniff panels. Why? Smell was an intrinsic piece to the marketing puzzle. Customers wanted to understand what the product smelled like before they bought it. Now, plastic packaging has advanced to make the caps smell like product. Special inks and coatings meanwhile help consumers more closely associate the branding and artwork itself with the scent, particularly on more luxurious products.


But finally, and maybe most importantly — sight is the first thing a consumer experiences while shopping. The power of sight when it comes to marketing is immeasurable. First impressions are everything. And if you can use sight to make your brand recognisable, you’ll be able to market your products with ease.

Luxury consumers are in search of products that make them stand out, and high-end brands should aim for this goal in every piece of packaging they create. The artwork, the font, and the colours all contribute to the visual perception your product carries. A luxurious product should be packaged in a way that elevates its worth. The ultimate goal is to make consumers feel like true members of your luxury community.

Making sense of it all

Reality has a way of colouring all that we see and hear and feel and smell — and therefore, we must challenge the very nature of the world we live in to build a narrative that is truly unforgettable. This is where your brand's packaging design comes in. The more it can appeal to our five senses — sight, smell, touch, taste and sound — the more your brand will speak with the elusive, emotional tongue.

Expectations are high for a luxury product experience. Sensory design techniques are crucial to set the tone for that high-end experience. With a deep focus on the human psyche and the way we interact with products, customers can be acutely impacted by all five senses. The science behind effective luxury packaging design is simply too great to ignore.