Gifting, celebrating, sampling: How much impact can committed brands have on consumer habits? Guerlain, Diptyque and Champagne Telmont, along with trends forecasting agency Nelly Rodi, tackled this issue during a roundtable at Paris trade show Edition Spéciale by LUXE PACK.
Gifting is typically an area where sustainability practices are stretched thin. "It is increasingly difficult for brands to juggle societal and CSR commitments, given their marketing strategy and commercial practices," stated moderator Mike O’Rinel as he opened the conference Gifting, Celebrating, Sampling: How Far Can Committed Brands Evolve Consumer Habits at Edition Spéciale by LUXE PACK in Paris on June 9th.
Before a panel from Guerlain, Diptyque and Champagne Telmont detailed how they balance sustainability, gifting and/or sampling strategies, creative agency Nelly Rodi outlined the needs of Gen Z consumers, often a target for these marketing campaigns.
"Gen Z consumers are all looking for sustainable desirability. Rather than a punitive approach, they respond to pleasure, gourmandise and rewards. Some now also expect virtual gifting, such as rewards or coaching. If we want to change mentalities, it is not by stigmatizing, or ostracizing, but by rewarding," affirmed Nelly Rodi Consumer Trends & Insights Director Vincent Grégoire. Some expect virtual gifting, such as rewards or coaching, he highlighted.
Guerlain adapts its Art of Gifting
Guerlain has been working on more sustainable versions of the gift boxes in its Art of Gifting offer, said Guerlain Head of Sustainable Innovation Jeremy Alonso. Its Iconic Gift Box is available in a larger variety of formats for e-commerce to reduce empty space at transport. They are made using only certified paper and cardboard and come in outer boxes made of recycled cardboard or in 100% paper sachets (including the handles).
The Minimal Gift Box is made from 100% recycled cardboard and acts as the outer box itself. It is decorated using water-based inks and features a cut-out in the shape of a bee. "It makes up around 40% of our Art of Gifting offer," said Alonso.
"For events and celebrations - the end-of year holiday season, and mother’s and father’s day for example, where the expectation of delight is particularly high, there is still work to be done on decoration," said Alonso.
When it comes to gifting for loyal customers, Guerlain is working on streamlining its offer, with better sourcing and more personalization. "For these products we will have halved the amount of metal used by 2024, and aim to get close to zero in the next few years. This means reinventing formats without metallized closures and no longer branding with metal. In terms of textile sourcing we aim to avoid polyester and polyurethane and choose certified, natural or recycled textiles," Alonso highlighted. More experiences and digitalization of gifting are also a focus.
Guerlain's Art of Gifting boxes are made of certified paper and cardboard ©Guerlain
Sampling Aqua Allegoria with ID Scent
Regarding sampling, the dynamic is slightly different, says Alonso. "Having a wide sampling campaign is easy to do, but it is costly in terms of both money and the environment. We are currently rethinking our sampling strategy to do less but better. This requires more effort, more training and more data." There’s still a lot to be done in terms of improving sampling formats and sourcing, he adds. For launch of the Aqua Allegoria fragrance, rather than press sampling with multi-material pouches, the brand opted for 100% paper samples done with ID Scent. These have now become the maison’s standard for press sampling.
Diptyque’s “smart sampling” strategy
Diptyque, meanwhile, has what it calls a "smart sampling" strategy, explained CSR Director Pauline de Rodellec, with the idea being to have samples as a first point of contact with new products. "We have samples of all almost our scents, as well as for many of our skincare products." In-store, if a consumer is not sure of a scent they are given a sample. At e-commerce, the corresponding sample is systematically included in an order. "That said," noted de Rodellec, "we try not to distribute too many samples. In 2019, for every product bought that is also available in sample format, we gave out 1.73 samples. In 2021, this ratio had reduced to 1.52. And for Diptyque’s entire product offer, the ratio is around 0.66." To analyze data, Diptyque has just implemented tracking for its samples: a work in progress, said de Rodellec.
Diptyque has implemented tracking of its samples to better analyze distribution ©Diptyque
Gifting: opting for experiential over material
For gifting, Diptyque previously almost exclusively gave out miniature products linked to an animation. "The problem with this was that the gift was limited in time, which could lead to lead to surplus stock," said de Rodellec. Now, the brand has range of institutional gifts, with the gift related to the buying experience. A candle lid or matches for the purchase of a candle, for example. Since 2021, Diptyque aims to offer gifts that are experiential rather than material: engraving, or upcycling ateliers to transform candle jars into plant pots.
Champagne Telmont: "No packaging is the best packaging"
Century-old Champagne Telmont (Rémy Cointreau) is something of a sustainability pioneer in the Champagne segment with its "Au nom de la Terre" program announced in June 2021. For the brand, "sustainability is not [just] a priority, it’s an obsession," stated CEO Ludovic Du Plessis. "If we want to reduce our carbon footprint by 90%, we need to tackle the problem of Champagne bottles and packaging."
Champagne Telmont stopped using transparent virgin glass bottles in 2021, and is now opting for bottles with 85% recycled content ©Champagne Telmont
In light of this, the brand now only uses classic Champagne bottles rather than bespoke formats due to their lighter weight. A program to reduce bottle weight from 900g to 835g was put into place and Telmont worked with glassmaker Verallia to further lighten the bottle to 800g. Taking this rather revolutionary strategy a few steps further, the brand has banned the use of transparent bottles, which require virgin glass, and has also removed all secondary packaging. "The best packaging is no packaging," declares du Plessis. "We make champagne, not gift boxes."
And what about bottle return schemes? An audience member asked. While reusing bottles isn’t possible for Champagne due to the pressure in the bottle, they can be recovered and repurposed for cider and sparkling wine, said du Plessis.
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