Marketing Insights

How much will my packaging cost? - The most burning question in the packaging design world today!

Posted by Don Keller

paper or plastic packagingPACKAGE PRICING - this is a 'feature' of retail product packaging that I wrestle with everyday.  

I know you are trying to get on the shelf for the least amount.  But if you aren't producing 10s of 1,000s then you can't expect to get the best 'per piece' cost.

I would hope that you are looking at this as an investment to see how well your product will sell first. You've got to take that first step.

I know how important your product is to you.

You want it to be packaged as professional as possible.  You're going up against all the Big Boys of your particular channel, right?   Companies with much deeper pockets than yours.

We understand that.  

We want to help you take that first step by producing professional custom retail packages at a small quantity and are - —even better...affordable.

We can help you create the most affordable packaging possible.  So let's examine different packages and why we suggest them and how you can use them for your product.

First, let's discuss size. Yes, in this case, size does matter.

Usually, smaller products can be packaged more economically.  It makes sense, right?, smaller products require a smaller package which can be printed on smaller press and require less paper, plastic, foil or whatever that package is made of which means ....less cost to you.

Reversely, large products require just the opposite and usually are more expensive to package. So, when jumping into the packaging world looking for answers be aware of the 'size' feature.

Download 5 Things You Must Know Before Starting Your Product Packaging

The second big factor that will influence your cost is quantity.

How many do you need? Yes, we can produce just a few packages.  

Most customers that only produce a few are looking for prototype packages.  Something to present to a buyer or partner.  

Next up the quantity list are hundreds  (100s) of packages. This is a very difficult quantity to produce at costs you can resell.  Again, this quantity is usually used for small tests where final cost to shelf is not part of the answer you seek. 

The first quantity the bulk of my client's seek is 1,000 pieces.  In many cases this quantity can be created at reasonable costs.   Larger quantities of course are quite possible and in some cases the only way to produce some types of packages.  I'll explain more below.

Now, let's discuss the variety of packages and what type of quantities you should consider for each:

Paper Board Packaging

Printing on paper board up to 24pt.  You would usually see this type of box for vitamins, cereal, small durable goods, These can usually be produced in quantities of 1,000 and up at reasonable costs.  

These boxes can be engineered with unique folds to strengthen the box. They can also contain a hang tag flap or a unique fold to help it stand out on the shelf.  Cellophane windows are possible BUT (be careful) will add cost.  

Size (as mentioned above) may make this type of packaging out of your financial reach. Product size and weight need to be taken into consideration for this type of packaging as well.

A heavy object (while still small in size) just may not work with this method. The box needs the strength to hold your product safely without falling apart and possibly survive shipping.

Corrugate Packaging

Most corrugate boxes you see in the stores today are printed with a litho-laminate label. That is, a large thin sheet of paper is printed in color and then laminated to a corrugate stock. This usually requires quite a bit of set up fees to produce the plates, laminate the sheets and die cut the final boxes.  

If your product is large or heavy, corrugate may be the answer but producing these color boxes is going to be expensive.  So, this type of printing requires higher quantities, starting at 5,000 - 10,000 pieces.

The alternative you might want to consider (if corrugate is the only way to proceed) is to purchase a stock corrugate box (usually brown or white corrugate) and print a large color label that can be hand-applied to one side.

Clamshell & Blister Packaging

These are two types of plastic packages that are expensive to produce in a custom shape or size.  Clamshells are (as the name implies) two pieces of formed plastic that are formed to fit the product, that are then hinged like a clam shell.  They usually require a color insert and can be heat sealed if theft is an issue for you.  

Blisters are similar but they are only one side of formed plastic that is then glued around your product to a color printed card. (Here's a new blog post recently added that will give you more info on Blister Packaging.)

Both of these version require a sizable quantity (10,000 or more) to offer you competitive per-piece pricing. (Recent editor's note: There are manufacturers that can create and blister packages starting at a quantity of 6,250.  See this blister packaging article for more info.)

One alternative for smaller quantities, may be stock clamshells. These are available in many sizes and by the case.  While most won't likely fit your product exactly, a custom paper insert can be created to hold your product in place.  This makes for a great presentation at reasonable costs.

Stand Up Pouches Packaging

Stand up pouches are a great package method for moist foods, dry foods, and even pet food products.  They come in a variety of sizes and colors.  They can also be custom printed in full color.  Keep in mind, full color jobs start at 5,000 - 10,000 pieces.

These again can be bought as stock and have a color label applied front and/or back.  (Recent editors note: Stand up pouches can now be digitally printed in small quantities of 500 and up.  Making this a very affordable AND good looking method of packaging)

Stand up pouches are a professional looking way to get your food product onto the shelf and sealed for freshness.

Plastic Bottle Packaging

This version of packaging mostly fits the cosmetic world but is also used by the cleaning & chemical companies too. In most cases plastic containers can be bought in stock and have a color label applied.  

Many larger companies go to the expense of having custom bottles and containers created to fit their brand.  This requires an industrial designer to create the shape of the bottle and a plastic manufacturer to produce a mold and then the containers.  You can imagine the cost. $$! 

So, if you have shampoos and creams your first step will be to find the stock container, then determine how best to brand it, label or possibly direct printing.

Header Cards & Bags

This type of packaging consists of your product in a plastic bag with a header card (folded, printed card) stapled to it to enclose the product and add a hang hole in the card for easy peg hanging.  One of the most affordable forms of packaging but not a form meant for all products.  There is a perception about what type of products are in these packages.  These can be done in low quantities of under 1,000 pieces.

Vinyl Bags with Inserts

Stock vinyl bags can work well for soft products - clothing, pillows, sheets, blankets as well as some cosmetic kits or unique sets of products.  Being stock they can be purchased in low quantities, come in a variety of sizes, some even have handles or zippers. You'll need to determine what size & style fits best.  

A custom color printed insert can be created to produce messaging and billboard space on the product.  They can be inserted to fill the front of the package and wrap to the back.  We've got a sample project to view here.

I think I've covered most forms of packaging. If you can think of any, drop me a note and I'll do my best to touch on those in a later blog posts. I hope this gives you a better understanding of the packaging basics.  Take another look at your product and let me know what the next packaging step is for you.

Learn more about our custom packaging design capabilities here - Custom Retail Packaging Information from Catalpha Packaging

Need more packaging info?  Here are other posts which you might enjoy:

• 5 Ideas For Packaging Your Product On A Budget

• Follow This Step By Step Process To Create Packaging Design That Sells Your Product

• 10+ Tips to Creating Successful Packaging Design


5 Packaging Tips You Must Know --> Download Now!

Topics: Packaging Design

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