Amenities puts Roland Grohmann, Managing Director of FORMIA in the spotlight.
What have Hard cases brought to the amenity kits offer?
Hard cases have disrupted the landscape of amenity kits, conventionally the classical cosmetic bags or pouches. They have a strong connection with the hard case suitcases hence they convey the same idea of quality in terms of durability, quality, protection of valuables, etc.
With the introduction of hard cases, the range of post-flight uses given to amenity kits has broadened and exceeded the context of cosmetics and toiletries. Hard cases are often reused for carrying and protecting electronic devices, chargers, adaptors, etc. They are also preferred as jewellery boxes, and any other usage where its hard shell is key to protect valuable contents.
Where do you think resides the success of Hard cases for amenity kits?
We believe the success of these kits lay on the same principles that make ‘luxury limited editions’ so attractive: when a brand produces a product in limited availability, it reinforces the brand’s mythology, and appeal to consumers looking to purchase an uncommon piece of a brand’s history.
These kits tick all the boxes that make exclusive products highly desirable:
A premium brand: the allure of an uncommon piece of the brand’s history
Exclusivity: limited access to the product, scarcity.
Limited editions: ‘pièce Unique’ available for a limited period of time.
Collectables: future memorabilia and trigger desire of collectors to own a rare piece of a favored brand’s history
Sense of belonging: being part of a premium selected class.
An example that embodies all these variables for success, is the case of Rimowa amenity kits on board EVA Air’s Royal Laurel Class, its high end Premium Business class.
FORMIA’s mission is to delight its customers by providing products which, in turn, delight their own customers. We are immensely proud that EVA Air has continued to place their trust in FORMIA over the years to devise and supply their onboard amenity kit offer. Royal Laurel passengers are presented with a RIMOWA branded hard shell case in a specially commissioned colour designed to complement EVA Air’s own corporate colours. The rotation of customised colours and the cycles over a limited time-duration have reinforced the exclusivity factor, fuelled collector’s ambition and created unique memorabilia of the airline’s strive for quality and service. This quality lends itself well to EVA Air being ranked the 8th best Airline in the world.
With hard cases from Samsonite, Dot-Drops and Rimowa is there room in the market for more brands?
There are brands with a very different image and positioning in comparison to the above mentioned, that bring to the table other unique values and styles, with an equally practical and functional design but a different product aesthetic. Brands such as Samsonite are synonymous with worldwide travel, and remain unchallenged in this category. Other brands could target a different audience and tap into another type of emotional connection with the user, e.g a strong link to the fashion industry or celebrity world. This is the case, for example, of Bric’s, the premium Italian luxury brand with whom FORMIA has developed a classy range of hard cases inspired by the distinguishable style of the brand’s iconic designs.
Are you looking at working with new brands to offer more hard cases?
FORMIA has become a global reference in the amenities market for hard cases, and there are several brands approaching us to develop for them a hard case. We thoroughly scrutinize the brands we bring to the market and make sure our portfolio is comprehensive, distinctive and unique but not overlapping.
Are other luggage brand now seeing the potential for product placement?
Yes, definitely. Many retail brands, not necessarily luggage brands, have learnt that exclusive products such as amenity kits are a great addition to their brand allure and create an element of scarcity which enhances desire, thus benefitting their brand.
Is the day of the hard case coming to an end?
Not at all. This is just the beginning and they will continue to offer developments in various directions. Furthermore, some airlines also opt to combine hard cases and soft bags to cater to the inidividual preferences of their passengers.
What next for the case?
We work on different directions with each brand, always tapping into the latest trends, or answering a latent need from passengers’ ever-changing wants and needs. In our current context, where consumers are constantly seeking for more personalization, one direction we are exploring is based on providing a high level of differentiation through prints applied to the hard cases. With customization leading some luxury brands’ strategy, the possibility is here, beyond offering color variations, to have a blank canvas as a vehicle of communication between brand-airline-user and adding an emotional touch to the kit whilst still respecting the DNA of the brand.
It seems that the hard case is mainly popular now with carriers based in Asia. Why?
The main reason for this is budget, as these kits are more costly than soft bags. However, in terms of appreciation, they are globally renowned and coveted by airline passengers.
We have recently offered Aeromexico a special amenity kit to use on an extraordinary occasion: the visit of Pope Francis to Mexico earlier in February. For the return flight from Ciudad Juarez (MX) to Ciampino (IT) Aeromexico presented a distinctive amenity kit for the Pope: the kit’s prominent feature was a Dot Drops hard case.