Outer Box Experience

There is no better example of the power of packaging than Tiffany and its legendary robin’s egg blue gift box with white ribbon. The box and its color immediately generate excitement for this coveted jeweler and its products, delivering instantly the brand’s message: Tiffany is love.

“The magic of Tiffany’s iconic blue box is that it triggers an emotional connection,” describes Mike Kaplan, Rocket Redbox, Bronx, New York. “For some, it symbolizes centuries of design and style. For others, it promises distinctive, high quality jewelry. It creates a Pavlovian response, without even seeing the name. Whether it’s a rattle or 3-carat diamond ring, it evokes expectations that it’s from Tiffany and what that means. Don’t even think of wrapping something that isn’t from Tiffany in that color.”

It’s a fact, when a person pulls out a jewelry box the receiver’s heart rate accelerates for 95% of folks, reports Liz Chatelain, president of MVI Marketing, Los Angeles and its Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council (JCOC). She also cites that more than 50% of gift receivers keep the box.

“Give away a box nice enough to keep,” says Kaplan, “that’s built in advertising with a long shelf life.” He cites the two constants in all packaging—the jeweler’s name/logo and color. You make a statement by creating a cohesive image—in box, wrap, ribbon, tissue, and bags. “Buying jewelry is a luxury experience, and part of that experience is the packaging.”

The packaging makes it special, describes Denise Cabrera, product manager, display and packaging, Rio Grande, a Richline company based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “If the item is put into a plastic bag the customer might not feel great about the purchase, that the piece must not be that special. But if the item is carefully placed in a box or tote with the store logo hot foil stamped on it, the customer feels the purchase was special, that the store took the time and money to make it so. This is the feeling you want customers experiencing when they leave your store. This experience will be shared with others.”

Tiers & Types
It’s not uncommon for jewelers to offer different tiers and types of packaging for different jewelry items, from fashion to heirloom. “You’re not going to put a silver bangle in a lacquered wood box, instead you might use a paper box or jewelry pouch to make a distinction,” says Kaplan, who advises against too many tiers.

The trend among jewelers is to have three tiers of packaing for lower, mid and higher end items, cites Sharon Pisciotta, GemPak, a Quality Gold company in Dallas, Texas. But she emphasizes that jewelers keep a consistent brand image. She also advocates buying the best quality your budget can afford, because boxes and bags are keepsakes with your name on them.

While custom orders for special colors or additional prints/patterns may not be in budget, jewelers can easily brand themselves working with companies that offer a good stock program, as long their store name/logo and color are prominent, cites Christopher Stock, Rocket Redbox design director.

Get Creative
When you do custom orders, things like special colors and additional design work is most cost effective to produce in bulk, and for many small retailers the quantity is just not there. “We can do a lot of things, but it is always a question of time and budget,” says Pisciotta, who cites gift bags great to customize with a smaller minimum order of 200.

Chatelain reminds jewelers that there’s creativity in their own backyard. “You can order from stock and have your local printer add design details or visuals to your bags. Ask local art students to draw or paint your bags for Mother’s Day or charity event. Sew antique buttons on jewelry pouches for a vintage feel and to make each one unique. I knew a jeweler who had staff that could do calligraphy and wrote personal messages inside the gift boxes. Small efforts of customization go a long way to make the experience special.”

Thinking outside the box allows jewelers to personalize the presentation, concurs Rebecca Foerster for Leo Schachter Diamonds, New York City, suggesting ideas like multi-functional boxes that can be used to stow jewelry at home or for travel. She also advocates branding other keepsakes like an umbrella. “Having an annual umbrella becomes a collectible, a reason to come into the store.”

Kaplan notes that jewelers can keep things fresh and unique by introducing new colors or color combinations and textures. Stock cites some customers are interested in eco-friendly, recyclable materials and different fabrics that also speaks to their brand identity and matters to their customers.

Plan It
Chatelain advises jewelers update their packaging every six to eight years. While Pisciotta reminds retailers to plan their packaging needs long in advance of busy seasons like Christmas. “Don’t wait until the last minute to personalize packaging, it will take twice as long. Don’t wait until mid-October and realize you don’t have enough ring boxes or are almost out of bags. Plan ahead and order early so you can focus on other things like displays, marketing, sales training…”