MONACO — If a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, beauty executives are hoping a healthy dose of luxury will help heal the ailing fragrance market.

That was among topics discussed at Luxe Pack Monaco, the high-end packaging trade show held here Oct. 20-23. Packaging designer Marc Rosen hosted a seminar during the show entitled “Dispensing luxury…The packaging dose,” which focused on how design can up a product’s luxury quotient.

“I’m not a doctor, but I know how to cure flat sales,” quipped Rosen, who noted that packaging is of paramount importance in helping to drive consumer interest in the category. “We need to seduce consumers with luxury packaging — and the competitive edge is based on creativity.”

That’s a point that Veronique Gabai, senior vice president and general manager for Estée Lauder’s designer fragrances division, seconds. “The time is long gone when it was enough to put a logo on a product for it to be a luxury [item],” said Gabai.

She added that, since 9/11, consumer sentiment has become polarized: On one hand, people are willing to pay high prices for products that mean a lot to them, while on the other, they’ll refuse to pay premium for goods that don’t have a deeper meaning. To wit, the beauty industry will have to decide if its products should be marketed as luxury or commodity items.

“We’re going to have to pick our battle,” Gabai said.

Daniel Rachmanis, president of fine fragrances, Americas, for Firmenich, agreed that no-man’s-land is no place to be right now, adding that other industries have managed to trade up and create a luxury positioning for their products. He pointed to the vodka market, and particularly to the Belvedere and Grey Goose brands, which have carved out a luxury niche for themselves.

“These brands have transformed vodka from a flavorless liquid to a product with as much cachet as single-malt scotch,” he said.

Such an approach is a result of a shifting consumer demand, Rachmanis added.

“The market is going through a real revolution, and the consumer is the main protagonist,” he said. “We’ve gone from an offer-driven model to a demand-driven model.”

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