Such luxury cues are learned, rather than innate, so they can change over time. “I’m doing a lot of work on transparency at the moment; premium packaged goods should have a transparent window because it conveys freshness or quality,” he said.
But the trend is recent, the professor added, because “traditionally luxury goods used to have opaque packaging. I think it has to do with the current desire for authenticity.”
Layer it on
Unnecessary wrapping can be an ecological concern but, when it comes to luxury goods like wine in a presentation case, it does make an impression.
“Tissue layers are really good,” Mr. Spence said, “because the crinkle adds an extra sense to the experience.”
Consider a squirt of fragrance in the box or wrapping, and, if you want to cover all sensory bases, work out some way for classical music to be playing when the gift is opened because we associate it with quality.
Engaging several senses at once is beneficial. “The brain combines the inputs from each sense, both to determine what something is, but also to determine a hedonic or reward value,” Mr. Spence said. Also, the more stimuli to the senses, the more activity is produced in the orbitofrontal cortex, a small part of brain situated just behind the eyes. And the more activity there, the more rewarding something is perceived to be.
You can go too far
“Engaging one sense is more effective, but you can potentially have an incongruence if that extra sense doesn’t match the others,” the professor said.
He offered as an example the Portuguese denim brand Salsa, which embedded its jeans with microcapsules of perfume chosen to match the color of the item — a lemon scent to match yellow jeans — and to diffuse over time.
“It totally backfired,” said Mr. Spence — who had no part in the project. “It proved too much for consumers.”