What Is Product Packaging? An In-Depth Guide

What Is Product Packaging? An In-Depth Guide

Who even cares about packaging?

A lot of people. Every customer of yours, consciously or unconsciously, makes a quick decision about whether your brand is worth purchasing just by looking at the packaging. It's equivalent to a form of art that hits our subconscious brain.

Imagine you're in a supermarket and see two bottles on the shelf. The first one has an apple on it, a brand name, and looks so appetizing. Meanwhile, the other one has a bland color with big, bold, hard-to-read letters. Which one will you choose?

The first one. Right?

That's how product packaging not only makes customers develop a liking for your product but also purchase it. If you want your customers to connect with your brand, you should know about this.

Good packaging = More sales

In this blog, we'll discuss product packaging in detail and how you can stand out using it.

Let's get started.

Source: moonlightcreative

What is Product Packaging?

Product packaging refers to designing, creating, and enclosing a product within a container or wrapper for protection, preservation, communication, and marketing.

It's becoming a huge part of brand identity. From big companies to small businesses, everyone's using it.

Apple's packaging is known for its simplicity. Clean lines, white backgrounds, and subtle product images create an elegant, uncluttered appearance.

Even the unboxing experience is carefully thought out. The boxes are easy to open and have neatly arranged components. All of this adds to the excitement of unpacking a new Apple device.

That's why most users save even empty Apple boxes.

It tells us you don't need to add too many colors or elements to win your audience's heart. If you have a great product, a minimal approach will work wonders.

Why is Product Packaging Important?

Product packaging can be done in several ways. But you might wonder why it is really important for my business.

It's because it has a great effect on consumer behavior. If you leverage it properly, you can benefit from it. Here are some of its advantages that you must know.

  • Product Protection: Packaging serves as a protective barrier, shielding products from external elements like moisture, light, heat, and physical damage during transit, storage, and handling. This protection ensures that products reach consumers in optimal condition.
  • Branding: Effective packaging design can make a product stand out on store shelves or in the e-commerce marketplace. It reinforces the brand's image and creates a memorable visual identity. Strong branding can lead to increased recognition and customer loyalty.
  • Communication: Packaging communicates essential information about the product, including its name, features, usage instructions, and safety warnings. It also conveys the brand's identity and values, influencing consumers' perceptions and purchasing decisions.
  • Differentiation: In a competitive market, packaging can differentiate a product from its competitors. Unique and innovative packaging designs can help a product stand out and pique consumer interest.
  • Sustainability: Sustainable packaging has become increasingly important in an environmentally conscious world. Companies are adopting eco-friendly materials and designs to reduce carbon footprint and meet consumer expectations.

3 Main Levels of Product Packaging

Product packaging has three main levels. A different material is used at every layer, ensuring the product is safely delivered to the customers.

Source: belvg

Primary Packaging

It is the primary level of packaging. In this, the product is in direct contact with the packaging. So, even when using the product, this layer will stay the same.

However, choosing a material that will not harm your product quality is important. The best example is milk glass bottles used in dairy farms as primary packaging.

Secondary Packaging

It's the outer packaging layer and acts as a shield for primary packaging. Thus, it provides protection and security to the product, ensuring it's safely transported and stored. Many brands ignore this layer, but that's not a good practice. Especially when you're ordering goods in bulk, the product can break. That's why it's also best to utilize this in your packaging.

So, the primary layer in the above example was glass water bottles. However, transporting these bottles without a secondary layer can lead to breakage. In that case, they are shipped in cartons to ensure safe delivery.

Tertiary Packaging

It's the outermost layer of packaging. Moreover, it also protects:

  • Primary layer
  • Secondary layer

At this layer, the emphasis is more on efficiency rather than improving aesthetic appeal. The milk bottle cartons have a slight risk of spillage or breaking on bumpy roads. What should you do?

That's where tertiary packaging comes in. You can use wooden pallets along with stretch wraps. It will reduce the risks of breakage. 

Types of Product Packaging

There are some standard options of packaging which are available for different industries. Some of them are as below.

Corrugated packaging

It is made from corrugated paperboard. In this, a fluted layer is sandwiched between some linear boards. Another reason why it's used is because of cost.

From construction to material, everything is cheap compared to expensive alternatives. Moreover, it's lightweight yet durable. Some of its examples include shoe boxes and shipping boxes.

Flexible packaging

Malleable material, including plastic, foil, and paper, is used. These are used to wrap the product. It's lightweight yet completely seals the product.

If you have a sensitive product, this might be a suitable option. Some of its examples include wrappers of candies and sachets.

Folding Cartons

By the name, you can tell that these paperboard boxes are compact and can even be reassembled easily. Many manufacturers use these because of their strength and flexibility.

But is that all?

No.

Plastic or any other material is also added to add an aesthetic touch. Some of its examples are custom folding cartons and food items cartons.

Rigid Boxes

These are made of either wood, cardboard, or metal. These packages keep the product highly protected and maintain its integrity. If you are shipping a luxury product or delicate items (which are prone to break easily), then rigid boxes are an ideal fit for your product. Some of its examples are jewelry and gift boxes.

Blister Packs

Have you seen transparent plastic packages? Where can you see what's inside the product?

That's exactly what a blister pack looks like. There is a strong plastic cavity, which is known as a blister. It keeps your items secure.

It's often used by companies who want to sell items to improve their visibility. Some of its examples are toy and medication blister packs.

Step-by-step Guide To Product Packaging

Now that you know enough about what all of this is about. It's time to execute strategy practically.

But before that, you should know the nitty gritty of this topic so you don't make any mistakes. That's why we have made a complete step-by-step guide. We'll guide you through every step in a simple manner.

Step 1: Get Clarity On Your Packaging Needs

Before starting the design process, you should take a step back and reassess your needs. It'll help you get clarity on what kind of packaging you want and how much it can cost you. After understanding these factors, the next steps will be much easier for you. Here are the things that you should consider.

  • Product: Identify the type of product. If it's heavy and delicate, then you'll need a strong package. You can also add cushioning for additional support.
  • Volume: Carefully make a list of how many units you need. If you don't know how many units you need, compare your sales and demand. It will give you an idea about the optimal value for the order.
  • Budget: The budget doesn't include manufacturing only. It includes packaging cost + production + shipping. If you need additional things such as fillers, etc, then that'll cost extra.

Step 2: Measure Your Package

It's very important to know the proper measurements of the box. Suppose you want a package for a luxury watch.

But you give the wrong measurements. What'll happen?

You'll get the wrong package, maybe a package that can only fit a ring but not a luxury watch. It'll waste a lot of money, time and effort. To avoid this from happening, you should measure three major things.

  • Length
  • Width
  • Depth

These measurements should always be taken from inside the box. Try to get maximum accuracy in this step. 

Step 3: Perfect Packaging Material

Now it's time to find which packaging option is suitable for you. Is it a cardboard box? Paper bags? Sachets? Glass bottle?

You'll get bombarded with lots of options. So how can you choose the most suitable for your product?

It all depends on your product needs. Let's understand it better.

Imagine you are selling delicate glassware, such as crystal wine glasses. In this case, you should choose a material that has exceptional protection. It can be custom-designed foam inserts within sturdy cardboard boxes. This packaging prevents breakage during shipping and ensures the product arrives perfectly.

So here's the formula you should follow.

Analyze your product. Then, find which feature is most important (delicate, fresh, aesthetic)

Choose a packaging material according to that. Use additional items if necessary.

Step 4: Types of Packaging Printing Options

After choosing the material, you should finalize the printing method. These are three popular choice for printing which you can choose from.

  • Offset Printing: In this method, ink is used (not toner) for high-quality images. Typically used for most is more production. It is more expensive for low-volume projects due to setup fees.
  • Digital Printing: Similar to home office laser or inkjet printers. Offers quick turnaround times and affordability for low-volume jobs. No setup fees.
  • Flexography Printing: Industrial printing method suited for simple designs, often one or two colors. Colors are less vibrant and crisp compared to other methods. Inexpensive and high-speed production.

Step 5: Choose Suitable Colors From Color Palette

The default color mode for printing is CMYK. Do you know what it stands for?

  1. C: Cyan
  2. M: Magenta
  3. Y: Yellow
  4. K: Key (Black)

There are countless opportunities to play and create your artwork using these colors. If you're working in Adobe Illustrator, you'll get a better appearance of these colors.

Source: pexels

But here's a warning.

Avoid working in RGB color mode.

PMS, an abbreviation of Pantone Matching System, is a color system by Pantone Inc. It's also used for branding; you can get uniform color codes for printing. Use color psychology to choose the perfect color to grab potential customers' attention. 

Step 6: Choosing a Coating

To give a finished look, you should add the coating. It also provides extra protection and makes print quality much better.

Matte and gloss lamination are often used to give a shiny appearance. Meanwhile, UV coating is used to get the same finish as lamination. But what sets it apart is that you can apply it to the product without using any additional film.

Step 7: Try Special Finishes

There are different techniques you can implement to enhance your product packaging. One of them is adding special finishes. Let's understand it in detail.

You can use foil stamping to get holographic or special effects. Highlight specific parts of the package using Spot UV.

Some other techniques that you can use include:

  • Embossing: Printing technique adding dimension and depth.
  • Debossing: Creates a depressed imprint on surfaces.
  • Window Patching: A die-cut window is added to the packaging for customers to see the product before purchase.

Step 8: Preparing Dielines

Now it's time to prepare the dielines, the most crucial part of product packaging. Precision in measurements and specifications is crucial, as it helps save time and resources. Essentially, the dieline serves as a two-dimensional blueprint for your packaging design.

Step 9. Prototyping

We recommend getting a prototype of your product. You can test the design and see if it aligns with your brand guidelines and fulfills the purpose.

Step 10. Production and Shipping Costs

Now that you've done everything, it's time to get packaging for your product in bulk. The time for shipment may vary depending on order size, method of delivery, etc.

Finally, you've made your product packaging design successfully.

Conclusion

You need to give your target customers a memorable experience with your products. When they see the package, they should get excited and feel connected with your brand.

That's how you can get a competitive edge. It will not only lead to repeat customers but also attract new customers.

If you plan to stay in the business long-term, focusing on product R&D is insufficient. You should also consider packaging needs and how to excite your ideal customers.

In short, give them a joyous customer experience.

If you are ready to take your product packaging to the next level, we have something to help you. At Altro Labels, we help businesses expand and win their customers' hearts with customized packaging.

Want to know more details?

Reach out to us today.