Custom packaging is often times more expensive than the product it houses. From bottled water to certain cosmetics and many items in-between, it’s amazing how much we’re paying for a product’s packaging that will simply be thrown away. I have a few packaging tips to offer that can help rein those costs in a bit. These tips not only help reduce the cost of packaging, but some of them are eco-friendly as well. I have chosen to discuss folding cartons here. In future articles, I will discuss cost reducing tips for other types of packaging. If you are unfamiliar with folding cartons, click here for an explanation.
1) Make it Lighter
Most likely your product’s packaging is going to be made of paperboard. Depending on the product’s handling demands, the caliper (thickness) of the box may be able to be reduced. You may be surprised at how thin you can actually go while still protecting your product.
A rule of thumb with paperboard is, the thinner the cheaper. Makes sense.
2) Make it Smaller
Perhaps your product could be disassembled slightly, or positioned in the box a different way. This can be very helpful in facilitating a reduced box size.
Or perhaps you think you require more packaging real estate to fit all the graphics, multiple languages, and information you want your customers to see. While this is important, try considering reducing the size of some graphics and images or being more concise and selective with your packaging text. You may find that a smaller box is possible without necessarily compromising the graphics or advertising on the packaging.
In some cases reducing box size can be crucial if it’s enough to put you on a smaller press and/or fit more boxes on 1 sheet thus maximizing paperboard space.
In addition, using less store shelf space with smaller packaging is often an advantage – the store can fit more of your product on their shelves at one time.
3) Use Standard Recycled Paperboard Sizes and Thicknesses
Recycled paperboard is generally less expensive than regular white board. Exceptions to this are recycled paperboards that are commonly labeled as 30%-55% post-consumer waste (PCW). 100% recycled paperboard is cheaper because it doesn’t specify where its recycled materials come from. So if you are not concerned about the origin of this recycled paperboard, it is a good cost-reducing choice.
Also, using standard sizes and thicknesses are naturally cheaper because they are usually in abundance and require less customization and “special ordering” by the manufacturer. In other words, the box manufacturer purchases these standard paperboards in bulk from the paper mill, and as a result, for a cheaper price. Cheaper for them means cheaper for you. In addition, because the manufacturer likely has these standard paperboards in stock, your packaging lead time (the time it takes the manufacturer to make the box) can be that much shorter.
4) Coating Options
Coatings are necessary because they seal the ink on the paperboard. The normal or most common coating is a water-based coating called Aqueous. When you don’t specify, this is the coating you get. A lot of people aren’t aware that they can choose different coatings ranging from a glossy finish to a dull/matte look, and there’s even a “soft-touch” coating that gives your packaging a velvety-soft feel. The difference in cost between these types of coatings can be negligible depending on your volume.
While this may not technically be a cost-reducing tip, it is worth mentioning because it offers the option of different coating finishes that can give your packaging appearance a face-lift for very little extra cost in some cases. Read more about coatings here.
5) Foil Stamping and Embossing
These 2 accessories are great for high-valued products. The things to consider here are size and location. For every square inch you include foil stamping or embossing on your packaging, the cost goes up. The number of locations on your packaging where you want the stamping or embossing to appear also raises cost. So be conservative and only “decorate” the most essential parts of the box, if you even need to at all. For more on foil stamping and embossing check out this article.
6) Die Cutting Shapes
Sometimes it can be less expensive to add a window area rather than foil stamping or embossing to stimulate consumer interest. If showing “what’s inside the box” would be of extra interest to the customer, consider creating a viewing window on your packaging. Your box manufacturer needs to create a “Die” (the tooling used to cut the box shapes out of the paperboard) anyway, so the cost of adding a cut-out area (window) for your package is a relatively inexpensive way to draw eyes to your amazing product.
7) Half Tones of Ink
The ink that is used to print the graphics on your packaging can be reduced in cost by using half tones instead of additional colors. For example, instead of using 4 colors on your box graphics, consider using 2 colors and just lightening them. Black ink can become various shades of grey, magenta can become various shades of pink etc. This could eliminate the need for the box manufacturer to use multiple colors but still give your product image a very dynamic range.
However, the graphics on your packaging may not allow for this. For example, if you have a photograph image on your packaging, you will need to use at least 4 colors (also know as 4-color process).
8) Get Multiple Quotes and Compare Them Wisely
It may seem like a no-brainer, but shop around. Get 3-4 companies to bid. Just make sure they are quoting the absolute same materials and sizes, or else you will have difficulty assessing what is the better bid. It’s not always about money. But if it is, it can even be difficult to decipher between which quote is actually and honestly the cheapest.
This is where a broker can be indispensable as they can do the assessing and comparing of quotes for you.
Please read this article if you are interested in tips on comparing packaging quotes.
9) Combine Printing Jobs
Last but not least, if you know you have new print jobs coming up, combine as many items as you can, this will reduce set-up fees. Also, if you have a small volume, find a packaging company that does, “gang runs”. This means that they will combine your printing job with another person(s) in order to reduce the cost for everyone.
Another cost reducing tip would be to not use custom packaging at all. Instead, try using stock packaging and adding a really nice sticker label to it.
I hope these tips will help you reduce the cost of packaging for your product(s).