Amidst a recent centenary of its iconic fragrance, Chanel has decided to celebrate its bestselling scent, No. 5, with an equally eye-catching product launch and pop-up installations.
The Factory 5 Collection is a range of 17 humorous, limited-edition products, including a shower gel housed in a paint tin, body oil packaging reminiscent of an automobile repair shop, and bath tablets in a tea tin. The campaigns are equally Warholian. Just as Coco Chanel's designs were indicative of the modern woman, and No. 5 a trailblazing scent of its era packaged in a radically minimalist bottle, so too does this redesign provide a tongue-in-cheek take on traditional fragrance packaging. Considering that packaging design factors into 70% of all purchase decisions, it's also a clever advertising move.
The Mystery Box
The Body Cream
The Bath Tablets
The Shower Gel
The Body Oil
The Shower Gel
The Body Lotion
The Sparkling Body Gel
Should we celebrate the history and rich heritage of this icon or the eternal youthfulness of the N°5 spirit? It is, of course, the second approach that we chose to explore," explains Thomas du Pré de Saint Maur, Chanel's Head of Global Creative Resources, Fragrance and Beauty. "N°5 subverts everyday objects and demonstrates once again that luxury is also in the experience that we have of things. Taking everyday products allows for a less intimidating approach and creates new opportunities for daily exposure to the absolute wonder that is N°5.
Despite its classic, aldehydic floral profile of jasmine and rose—grown and harvested in an exclusive partnership with the Mul family in Pégomas—the fragrance has remained a bestseller amidst the changing tides of industry trends. Its formula, packaging, and cultural relevance has stood the test of time for consumers and industry alike, but brands can't survive on heritage alone—so continuing to find new ways of engagement with the fragrance remains a crucial marketing component. The demand is undoubtedly there, with a variety of the Chanel Factory 5 products emerging on eBay at largely inflated prices. While these secondary markets make it difficult to embrace exclusivity, Chanel's initiative nonetheless has reinvigorated its centennial product for a younger generation. The brand may have had A-list celebrity ambassadors, but given the weakening influence of these on Gen Zers (70% relate more to influencers than celebrities), and how at odds YouTubers are for Chanel's heritage-rich DNA, this immersive, experience-led activation fuses the visual codes of the brand with a culturally and technologically aware timeliness.
Chanel Factory 5, the retail spaces where consumers can purchase the products, visually depict "the intersection between robotic precision and human skill" according to the French house, with products passing through on conveyor belts. "The idea is to immerse people in a factory atmosphere and give them a sensational experience. We have taken the concept of Chanel Factory 5 to the extreme in these pop-ups, which are designed as 'theme parks' dedicated to N°5 and this limited edition collection. The staging offers the opportunity to discover the products, from their design and transformation in the factory to their use through entertaining stagings and animations," du Pré de Saint Maur adds. The installation has not only been set up in Paris, but cities across the globe such as London, Hong Kong, Monterrey, Taiwan, and Singapore. For those unable to attend in person, there will be a digital experience option, while in the U.S., Chanel has partnered with Saks Fifth Avenue as its sole wholesale distributor, both on its physical and online platforms.
The digitally activated space has also proved popular with other brands, from Penhaligon's QR code-activated fragrance profiling tool to Ralph Lauren's virtual reality club launched in tandem with its newest fragrance. The fragrance market's challenging past year, and the forced digital migration for a largely physical retail space-led industry, has also birthed exciting new opportunities for branding expansion. Chanel Factory 5 is offering up the prototype.
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