12 December 2011

Top 10 Gift Boxes

In honor of the holiday season (think of this as our ode to consumerism and designer labels no one can currently afford) we thought we'd do sort of a reverse gift list. Not what do you want, but what does it come in? Any among us willing to admit making purchases because of the packaging? Does it sway your purchasing power? I mean, it should. Look at all the money and research companies pour into marketing and visuals. Below, we take a light-hearted look at companies whose packaging has come to mean just as much, if not more, than the actual product. Companies whose marketing departments deserve a raise.

10. Nike
The Nike Inc. company is worth somewhere around $14 billion and it all started with a shoe.  In its heyday Nike was such a powerhouse status symbol that people were being violently robbed, even killed for their Air Jordans (yeah, remember that?). Having that shoe box, with that swoosh, was the penultimate in fashion meets sport. That was a meeting of the minds that ushered in a new wave of celebrity athlete endorsements that continues to this day. The largest: Tiger Woods earned $100 million over 10 years in 2000 for sporting Nike gear (“I am Tiger Woods”). Nike was a pioneer in marketing sporting goods to the masses as must-have fashion, athlete or not. And walking out of the mall with that shoe box was as close to a retail therapy shoe fetish as most men and boys will ever enjoy.
9. Ralph Lauren
The internet, in all its glorious accessibility, has made online shopping a boon for retailers and given high end designers one more facet for luxury interface with clientele.  Ralph Lauren has capitalized on this and sends out its packages in signature navy boxes embossed with gold lettering and navy ribbon, contents carefully wrapped in tissue and sealed with a gold foil stamp featuring the company’s ubiquitous polo pony.  The best part? Polo.com offers free gift wrapping on most purchases! And if that doesn’t make you feel special, nothing will. 

8. J. Crew
There is something so clean and fresh and reassuringly limitless about those plain brown boxes.  They’re the packaging equivalent of a fresh piece of construction paper.  You can impose upon them any sort of sparkly, cashmere dream.  It’s casual and understated elegance, which is exactly what J. Crew is all about.
7. Victoria’s Secret
It’s pink.  It’s shiny.  It’s girly.  And by virtue of the company alone, you know whatever is inside is most likely…exciting, let’s call it.  Brand recognition for VS has grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade and Limited Brands has grown the lingerie retailer into a sort of Disneyland of sex appeal and bombshell angels.  Victoria’s Secret and the color pink have pretty much become synonymous.
6. Veuve Clicquot
What’s more luxurious than a fancy champagne? Champagne that comes in a box, of course! Champagne itself is a luxury holdover from the French aristocracy.  We all love those bubbles.  And beyond that, we all love those yellow boxes!  Just by virtue of there being a box pushes this brand above and beyond.  How many bottles of wine do you regularly buy that come in their own box? And we’re not talking Franzia.  Established waaaay back in 1772, Veuve Clicquot markets a lifestyle and just this past year that lifestyle became more focused on sustainability with an “out of the box” campaign that features more eco-friendly paper, ink and solvents for their beloved packaging.

5. Louis Vuitton
Oh Louis, only you could make a box the actual sale.  I’m making somewhat of an exception because there is scarcely a brand in the world that rivals the recognition of that LV logo.  And you have to respect a company that’s made millions selling boxes.  Back in the day when travel was a luxury, trunks were even more so and signaled to everyone around that you had the means to go where you pleased.  It doesn’t matter what you have in your Louis Vuitton, it matters that you have a Louis Vuitton.
4. Chanel
If ever a company so completely and consistently executed its brand “look” it is Chanel.  No-nonsense femininity has been a hallmark of the House of Chanel since its inception in 1909.  Black, white, blush and nudes tones are the company’s calling cards, which have been beautifully carried out to the gift boxes.  Simple, clean and beautiful with those cute little interlocking Cs…what’s not to love?  A ribbon camellia, a flower that has long been a favorite motif of Mle. Coco, makes for a thoroughly perfect and brand-representative design.
3. Starbucks
Sure, it’s not exactly a gift box, but the funny thing about Starbucks is that that damn cup has become such a status symbol, a hallmark of the busy, upwardly mobile professional with their hurried, important, caffeinated lifestyle, that people spend $5 on a coffee for a cup-as-accessory.  You could be drinking ice water out of it, but somehow you look more important; maybe because you have $5 to shell out for a coffee.  Plus, the more instructions the baristas have to scrawl all over it, the more complex and sophisticated your tastes.  Right? And do I even have to mention how hyped up everyone gets when those holiday cups roll around?
2. Hermes         
A company that started out making bridles and harnesses in the 1830s has evolved into one of the world’s premiere leather goods manufacturers.  Along the way, they stumbled upon one of the chicest color combos in fashion history.  In fact, the orange and brown boxes have become somewhat of a commodity themselves and are often used as interior design display pieces.  The horse and carriage logo and the stitches painted on the accompanying ribbon pay homage to Hermes’ horsey heritage and their unique hand-stitching process.
1. Tiffany and Co.
Ahh that little blue box.  There’s nothing else that could have been number 1.  When Tiffany launched their signature packaging all the way back in 1837(!) it was meant to symbolize the company’s dedication to craftsmanship as well as “nature’s lush bounty,” something which has long been an inspiration to the behemoth jeweler.  The trademarked shade of “Tiffany Blue” is one of the most recognizable in the country and has been imitated but never replicated on everything from wedding cakes to fingernail polishes and everything in between.  The company has a strict rule when it comes to those little bundles of joy: they are never to be taken out of the store without containing something purchased from the store – a move which no doubt makes the boxes all the more prestigious and sought after.  After all, exclusivity is the axis around which the fashion world turns. 
 So tell us, what'd we leave out? Is there anything you covet as much for the packaging as anything?

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