Sustainable Packaging Questions to Ask That Can Save You Money

What is luxury?
What is sustainable packaging?
How can we save money?

I'll answer those in a second but first let me explain, what you need to ask. Those first three are logical questions to ask, but there are critical questions you can't be afraid to ask.

We know this, because we've done our research and know there are questions brands are not asking.

Here are 3 questions you should always ask:
What certifications does the factory making my packaging have?
This is important if you are buying from a packaging reseller because many purchase from multiple factories. Often those factories subcontract overflow work to smaller factories without any certifications. If you don't ask, you'll never know, and there's a lot of unknowns. Like this next question.

Are the materials still recyclable once combined to make my packaging?
Many laminates and foils are available that are recyclable and backed by data to that effect. But once those materials are combined to make packaging they are no longer recyclable. Materials and finishes can impact recyclability of your packaging.
But the question that can help save you money comes next.

Am I using the right sized packaging for my brand?
We know many packaging buyers are not asking this question because it means slowing down the RFP process to review their current packaging. How this question can help you save money is by shifting your packaging usage to smaller, less expensive packaging from larger more costly ones. 

Packaging resulting from a size audit and designed to use appropriate materials from a certified factory are a great way to find savings in sustainable packaging. A size audit will reveal wastage in your program and identify shared dimensions that can lead to a completely modular packaging program.

Use These 3 Budget Saving Tactics for Sustainable Luxury Packaging

Lightweighting
After your packaging has been right-sized via a size audit, it can be light weighted. Lightweighting is a way to minimize the amount of material per packaging component.

As an example, by reducing the GSM of a luxury sheet of paper and increasing the weight of a turn-top reinforcement board we can deliver a paper bag of substance. This magically shifts the costs from the more expensive sheet to the less expensive board that goes unseen.

Collapsibility
Luxury is known for its heavy gift boxes that come in all shapes and sizes.
Foldable rigid boxes are a fast solution to reduce your storage requirements and fit more within a container. Maximizing space saving today helps reduce freight charges and storage fees.

Magnet-Free
Many luxury gift boxes have hinged magnetic closures. FYI, recycling centers hate magnets.
Eliminating magnets and creating a paper-based locking mechanism not only reduces the weight of each box, it also makes the entire box more widely accepted at recycling centers.

Each of these tactics can lead to cost savings, when used in conjunction with the questions above can help improve the sustainability of your packaging.

These questions and tactics are a great starting point for any brand looking to improve the sustainability of their packaging. We're seeing brands doing great things in this space and know you can too. Don't be afraid to ask, and don't settle for "it's just how it's done" type of answers.

You can always challenge the status quo, it's how we improve.

Back to the first questions:

What is luxury?
It's a feeling, not an item or a logo. Luxury packaging conveys an emotion, excitement, and beauty.
Don't lock your brand into a material that's not recyclable because it's what you've always done.

What is sustainability?
Making decisions that allow you to continue flourishing. What do we mean? Making packaging decisions that negatively impact your margins will reduce the ability for you to sustain your business. It means reducing your workforce, impacting your quality, and finally not being able to sustain your business.

Making decisions that benefit your business, employees, consumers, and the planet are the most sustainable ones you can make. Defining what sustainability means to your business is the first step to creating a sustainable packaging program.

Join one of the thousands that have downloaded our sustainable packaging guide, here.

How can we save money?
Schedule your own size audit with IDP Direct and learn how Factory-Direct is leading sustainable packaging, info@idpdirect.com

 


Recyclable Poly Mailers Packaging Design

Replace Your Poly Mailers With This.

What are the alternatives to cheap non-recyclable poly mailers? Large corrugate boxes? Reusable shipping envelopes that incur shipping fees in multiple directions? Replace those unsustainable poly mailers with earth-friendly corrugated mailers.

Corrugated mailers use 100% PCW, customized to fit your brand, are 100% recyclable, and can be home compostable. Win-win for sustainable packaging!

PLASTIC FLEXIBLE FILM PACKAGING

The Poly Mailer Problem

43% of consumers today are concerned with the total environmental impact of packaging they receive. As more and more consumers become aware that poly mailers aren't recyclable, they are foregoing online orders from brands who choose plastic over paper packaging.

Flexible films or plastics marked #3, #4, #5, #6, #7 are not recycled curbside as they can damage equipment, cause fires, and are a danger to recycling facility staff.  Even with a recycling symbol printed on it, poly mailers get separated at most recycling facilities for incineration or buried in the landfill.

 

Sustainable Poly Mailer Replacement

The Paper Solution

Corrugated mono-material eCommerce mailers are engineered to your product specifications and fulfillment process to ensure maximum efficiency in getting your brand into consumers' hands. IDP's in-house production of corrugated boards means you don't have to deal with shortages and the unavailable stock currently being experienced worldwide. We're also known for customizing the brand experience by lining the interior of our eCommerce packaging with embossed papers, custom coatings, foil stamps, and offset prints to match your retail packaging.

Using only substrates with high secondary market demand, we increase the recycling rate, making sure our mailers are more widely accepted.

Corrugated mailers are an inexpensive way to deliver a sustainable branded experience.

So, how do you get started? First, IDP provides a packaging size audit to identify the appropriate pack sizes you'll need before we begin replacing poly mailers. Second, working with your internal logistics & fulfillment team, we discover the fulfillment process we'll need to design poly mailer replacements for. During this process, consumers are contacted to gather their first-hand experiences with cheap poly mailers to design an optimal consumer experience.

Once we've gathered this and more information from your team, consumers, and material specialists, we begin concept development before contacting recycling centers in your largest distribution regions. It's important to include the companies tasked with recycling your packaging because it won't get recycled if they don't want it.

For more information, contact us today.

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white and brown Small medium and large paper retail shopping bags for Gant

GANT's Emotional & Sustainable Luxury Retail Packaging

GANT's vision of bold authenticity as envisaged by Pond Design was hand crafted and produced by Intl. Direct Packaging (IDP). Pond's ability to enhance the brand experience through design, material, and a well-crafted unboxing delivers a more sustainable and emotional consumer connection.

Gant Luxury Retail Packaging Design for shopping bag and colored ribbons and branded labels

Pond's touch of the Ivy League heritage with striped ribbon closures creates what Pond calls "Truly American sportswear with European sophistication".

Gant's new sustainable retail packaging replaced materials with FSC certified papers and boards as well as reduced the overall amount of plastics and adhesives.

Luxury blue paper shopping bags for luxury brand Gant

IDP's 100% ownership of our factories allows us to manufacture the corrugated board to specifications needed for an e-commerce luxury unboxing experience. All papers are FSC certified and our factories are ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified as well as perform SedEx 4-Pillar audits. Sustainable packaging and environmental assessments are serious business.

Learn More.


Sustainable Packaging Design for Luxury Brands

Sustainable Packaging Design, Is this the Future of Luxury Packaging?

"Sustainable Packaging Design" is the buzzword of 2020, at least when it comes to packaging.
Everyone is talking about carbon footprint reduction, lightweighting, recycling, and eliminating plastics. But how does a genuinely sustainable package look?

Walpole, The Voice British of Luxury, challenged our design team to this exact question. What does sustainable packaging look like for the luxury sector?

Sustainable Packaging Design for Luxury Brands

Like any that focuses on results, our process begins at the end and works its way to the beginning. Here are the questions we asked ourselves before considering the design.

  • What are the goals of sustainable packaging?
  • What are the requirements for sustainable packaging?
  • What should the packaging communicate, and how?
  • Beyond sustainability, what are the concerns of consumers today?

Let's look at each of these questions to understand how to design sustainable packaging.

What are the goals of sustainable packaging?

First and foremost, all packaging must protect the product. At IDP Direct, our view is sustainable packaging must be easily separated by anyone. We chose to focus on recycling as an end of life process because these items would be shipped internationally, and the method available across all borders was recycling. Not all regions offered compost collection or separate processes beyond recycling.
Always consider where your packaging will end its life and what processes are available there.

What are the requirements for sustainable packaging?

Packaging must offer a friction-free experience for the consumer to recycle it, which means that the bag, box, or bottle must be easy to separate from any non-recyclable components. The package must explain to the user how to discard the item. It's also critical to limit any environmental impact generated from any process along with the production methods. So not only does recyclable packaging have to be easy to recycle, you must choose a high content of PCW. The more you choose high content PCW, the more demand for recycled fibers, which increases financial incentives to drive supply.

Considering the entire lifecycle of packaging, we looked at the material sources. Speaking to the luxury paper mill, James Cropper, we decided to use their Rydal line of papers. Rydal is a 100% post-consumer waste sheet that was made from coffee cups using their cup-cycling technology.

Sustainable Packaging Design for Luxury Brands

What should the packaging communicate, and how?

In this instance, the goal was to communicate a sense of understated luxury. For the creative team at International Direct Packaging, that meant tightening the parameters. How could we say more with less?
Less material, less processing, less of everything, and more focus on the product we viewed as the hero.

By tightening our parameters to product protection essentials, we decided to create an in-house corrugated board. Making our corrugated board in-house using the Rydal sheets gave the eCommerce box the strength required and gave us a blank canvas to complete the communication. The artwork and messaging were applied using a multilevel embossing technique that creates an elegant, tactile hand-feel and allows the box to be the focus during the unboxing. Because there were no inks, foils, or other processes once users revealed the book, everything to do with the packaging faded away.

Beyond sustainability, what are the concerns of consumers today?

How consumers interact with packaging has changed dramatically from just months ago. Consumers are wiping down packaging with bleach, leaving eCommerce boxes in the sun, and considering their interactions with packaging on a different level than ever before. For this reason, applying James Cropper's PaperGard made sense. Their anti-microbial treatment reduces the viability of viruses by 99.9% within 2 hours. Shipped by air, the e-commerce boxes would arrive virus-free into the hands of Walpole members.

What are other concerns consumers have today that can change how you design packaging?


Interactive wine box design

3 Types of Interactive Drinks Packaging to Increase Consumer Engagement

The art of simply applying a label to drinks packaging is dead.

Today interactive drinks packaging is king. Whether analog or digital, consumers are looking for something new, interactive, and engaging. Make it worth talking about amongst friends and on social media. Before Living Wine Labels brought us 19 Crimes or Walking Dead, there were interactive packaging designers creating technical unboxing movements by hand.

We're going to show you how to deploy interactive packaging to get noticed, get purchased, and become the drink of choice for today's consumer.

What is Interactive Drinks Packaging?

Simply put, Interactive Drinks Packaging encourages active engagement vs passive consumption.

3 Examples of Interactive Drinks Packaging

1. Manual Interaction, Empathy Wines

Empathy Wines Packaging Design
Photo: Constellation Brands

Empathy Wines is an example of manual interaction, due to the consumer-generated movement that reveals and removes the product. Empathy requires the user to open, lift, and remove the tray containing the individual bottles of wine. The interaction comes in the form of the box's functionality but also reveals key messaging along the way. It's that hidden messaging that allows Empathy Wines to make this list.

By having messaging that rewards the consumer for looking under or behind panels, it encourages that behavior.

 

2. Analog Interactive Drinks Packaging, Eleven Wine

Eleven Wines is a completely analog example of interactive packaging. The packaging uses magnets along the inner walls to repel each other and open as the sleeve is lifted. This action reveals the bottle within slowly and dramatically.

This type of analog interaction isn't easy. It requires engineers and manufacturers working closely to execute with a high degree of certainty.

Digital Interactive (AR) Drinks Packaging, 19 Crimes

19 Crimes augmented Reality wine label design
Photo: Treasury Wine Estates

19 Crimes is the most recognized wine label using the Augmented Reality app Living Wine Labels which brings the characters to life and engages with other bottles. The labels tell their story, set the tone, and encourage the consumer to invite other characters into the conversation by buying more wine.

Last Word: Interactive Drinks Packaging

Yes, there's always going to be a place on the shelf for beautiful wine labels, but the drinks aisle isn't a museum, it's a battlefield. This competition isn't won by labels alone, you need every edge you can get to encourage that consumer to pick your bottle up and be driven to try it out. After that, it's up to the product to make a repeat buyer out of a first-timer.

Schedule a consultation here.

 


Ecommerce Packaging Design Strategy

eCommerce Packaging / The Future is Here

Is your company maximizing the value of eCommerce packaging today?

The world is experiencing an online revolution. Consumers that previously enjoyed walking up and down the mallways of the earth have now been ushered into online stores. Consumers who were accustomed to walking the retail floor, mingling with staff, and being engulfed in the consumer journey, now move through the internet with the speed of a click.

Brands without a history of eCommerce packaging are more likely to find cracks in their packaging strategies and fail to delight the consumer.

Regardless, the opportunities for you to craft engaging and sustainable eCommerce packaging that delivers memorable user experiences, are endless.

What is eCommerce Packaging?

eCommerce packaging isn't just a box or a bag. It's a vehicle that carries your product through the rigors of transit to deliver it to the hands of awaiting consumers. The choice may be a low-cost standard RSC (Regular Slotted Carton) or the ultra-popular corrugated RELF (Roll End Lock Front), a poly mailer, or tube. Many times eCommerce packaging is ill-fitting and requires an extra helping of dunnage to reduce the product or interior packaging slamming about as it moves across the conveyor belts of UPS, Amazon, FedEx, or anyone else shipping your product.

eCommerce packaging may also consist of packaging that delivers a complete experience from the moment it arrives. Color, texture, or structural packaging can leave an impression on the consumer. Large bold colors are known to communicate your brand increase consumer satisfaction and elevate the design. Texture can be applied to create a tactile engagement or texture that can be removed completely eliminating the visible fluting of a corrugate shipping box that may feel more luxe. Structural packaging design can also create additional opportunities to connect with consumers, how it opens, breaks down, or repurposed as a cat house.

Ecommerce Packaging converts into cat house from Samsung
Ecommerce Packaging from Samsung that converts into cat house.

How consumers are invited into the box is just as important as how well the product fits. Tear-strips with clear messaging that actually tear 100% of the way across can be a great entry point into the box. Tear-strips designed correctly also provide an easy way for consumers to repackage the product for easy returns. When you deliver a complete unboxing experience, you decrease return rates and increase the opportunity for social media impressions.

Simply put, eCommerce packaging communicates your brand promise when your associates and retail space can't do it in person.

Needs of a successful eCommerce packaging program.

We all know great packaging when we see it. So, what does it take to actually deliver amazing eCommerce packaging?

Right-sized eCommerce packaging
Wait what, there's a right and wrong size of packaging? Did you think you only had to pick the sizes provided by stock packaging manufacturers?

Yes, there is a right and a wrong size. Ecommerce packaging requires sizing your shipper or mailer to accommodate the product packaging inside with little to zero wiggle room. This can be done with the use of inserts or dunnage to reduce movement within the corrugated shipper. Remember, product packaging is meant to create compression zones and protect the product from impacts. Ecommerce packaging is there to ship the product packaging and increase the protection of the product inside.

Right-sized eCommerce packaging also requires considering the costs of shipping and scaling your box accordingly to maintain your margins on the product your shipping. Shipping mailers that are too big and require additional postage is a surefire way to eat into anyone's profits.

If you're unsure how to size your packaging for maximum efficiencies contact a professional that offers size audits and structural packaging design. Ask them to show you examples of projects they have delivered to their consumers along with the benefits of the results over a 12-month period since.

Appropriate material selection

Ecommerce packaging comes in many materials, such as corrugated board, poly mailers, or shippers that are just large envelopes made out of a non-recyclable plastic film. In order to survive transit, eCommerce packaging requires strength and flexibility. Working with a partner that is able to test your packaging and even able to have it certified by an ISTA lab is highly recommended.

In polite society, it's less than desirable to deliver eCommerce orders in materials that are not sustainable.

Ecommerce Packaging sustainable Materials James Cropper Rydal
Cupcycling from James Cropper recycles paper cups into premium papers.

To be sustainable, you need to consider how the packaging will breakdown at its end of life and be repurposed. Will the packaging get recycled into new materials beginning the circle once again or will it be downcycled and used in concrete mixes? Understanding what sustainability is and what it means to your brand and consumer is where you begin before designing any packaging. Researching your own information and asking the right questions is critical to a successful eCommerce program.

  1. Ask about the PCW content in the corrugated board used on your packaging.
  2. Are they using water-based inks?
  3. Can you customize the experience with additional sustainable substrates?
  4. Are they FSC certified?
  5. Are anti-microbial papers right for this application?


Packaging is expensive, but the returns are free

The majority of online orders are delivered complete with free returns. Free returns mean that for any reason should the client be unsatisfied with the item they can return it. For Free.

It's your responsibility to protect the product on its way to the client and then all the way back to your distribution center. In order to make the long haul, packaging has to be designed for returns.

  1. Make it easy for the consumer to reuse the original packaging that the shipment came in.
  2. Make the box or envelope resealable.
  3. Always provide return instructions inside the box

Simple disposal of packaging

All packaging is headed to the bin, regardless of how long someone keeps it for sentimental reasons or otherwise. It all lands in the bin.

Ecommerce Packaging recyclable
All packaging ends up in the bin sooner or later. Photo by Bas Emmen

Clearly communicating on your packaging how to dispose of it will increase recycling rates for your brand. You can communicate how to recycle your packaging in many ways, QR codes that explain where the material is accepted, or if the material is actually recyclable are seeing the increased application. Implementing a program like How2Recycle (U.S. & Canada only) provides third-party validation on what is recyclable and how to recycle it using their icons that replace the Mobius loop.

However, you decide to say it, make it clear.

Using materials that require the consumer to transport the packaging to a retail store for it to get recycled decreases the chance of it being recycled. Use those materials as a last resort.

If your packaging requires that it be separated before it is put in the bin, state how to separate the packaging. When you're designing packaging like this make sure it is designed for easy separation.

Conclusion

There's no single solution for every business.

When considering ecommerce packaging, brands must balance cost vs consumer experience. Avoid too complex an experience unless it's for a limited launch like a seeding campaign or influencer packaging. If it's too complex, recyclability rates go down.

Simplicity is key since consumers are less interested in the packaging and want the payoff of their product being the hero of this journey.

With so many options and decisions to take, you have to decide what works best within your current fulfillment, distribution, and supply chain to deliver the single most important product to your consumers.

A friction-free branded experience.

 

 

 


Christian Dior paper Shopping bag design

How to Design Packaging, A Packaging Series

Shopping bags or retail bags, rigid boxes or gift boxes, e-commerce packaging or cardboard mailers, whatever you call them, they’re the workhorses building retail brands with over 30 years of packaging design and manufacturing. Intl. Direct Packaging has partnered with many of the world’s most respected and trusted brands to deliver retail & product packaging around the globe. Our “How to Design Packaging” series will reveal the benchmarks required to design high-performance packaging.  

Every design solution requires a strategic roadmap beginning and ending with setting expectations. The questions you ask are only as good as the honesty with which you can answer them. Asking why is essential in understanding the intent behind each stakeholder within a company. Is there an excess of marketing dollars that need to be burned, so is that why you're considering redesigning your packaging? Probably not.

Why Design Packaging?

So why are you embarking on this journey in the first place? Who are you ultimately connecting with, who is this person?

By understanding the “Why” you can reach the “What”. What are your expectations if this packaging is successful? An answer to this question may look like: If we are successful in implementing our packaging system Sharon (persona) will display her packaging as a badge of the sustainability-focused decisions in her life. Sharon will feel she has identified her tribe and will continue to develop a feeling of belonging. The company’s ROI comes in the form of a connection to the consumer, Sharon and many others willing to share their story in person and on social media validate the company’s position and play a role in developing the company - into a brand. 

Packaging plays a significant role in a company’s brand transition. Consumers interact with a company’s packaging when they receive a gift, order online, unbox at home, or even as they shop in-store. Consumers interact with the packaging; they almost always walk out with a retail bag, a gift box, a product with hang tags, a garment bag, or some form of a bag, box, or bottle. 

Who will you design packaging for?

Your company should know their audience, demographic, and a general understanding of the section of the population that your company addresses. Before we begin to design packaging, we need to know whom we’re designing packaging for. Demographics are excellent, but they’re not focused enough. You can’t envision an entire demographic interacting with your packaging, but you can picture Sharon gleaming with tears of joy and anticipation at the small box in the hands of her fiancé as he takes a knee.

Before we design packaging, we need to picture this moment with our packaging and our user persona. Personas are an amalgamation of your current customer’s personality traits, wants, needs, challenges, and objections divided into specific characters. 

If you don’t know whom you are talking to, how will your packaging design connect with them? 

It won’t.

Packaging interactions should feel as if it was designed for your persona as if you were reading their mind and answering each objection along the way. The most effective packaging connects with their consumer, elevates an otherwise mundane experience, opening a box to new heights. The difference between packaging that soars and packaging design that flails is whether you know your audience. 

Stay tuned as our follow up article is the first step in connecting with your audience, How To Create a Persona for Packaging Design.

How to create a persona for packaging design (sneak peek of our next article in this series)

Research. Research. Research.

Speak to your existing audience, find out how they feel about your company or product. Learn from them how your product makes them feel, why they connect with it, and how they talk about it. The research is less about the packaging and more about them and how they think your company fits into their lives. As a company, it’s critical to take an extensive sampling of your current audience to gather information to identify overarching themes from which to build your first persona. Yes, “first” because you will be creating multiple.

We hope you enjoy our "How to Design Packaging" series and follow along as we dissect the design process and walk you through the concept, design, and manufacturing of bags, boxes, and packaging accessories. We look forward to sharing this weekly educational series with you; subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates and new posts.


Tata Harper Packaging

How to Package Sustainability Like Tata Harper

You’ve seen beautiful green glass Tata Harper packaging with contrast yellow print on branding mood boards, packaging Pinterest boards, and if you’re like us it’s in your vanity.

The brand's website explains the materials used in Tata Harper’s packaging and provides the reader with the reasoning behind those material selections. Tata and her husband both Baranquilleros (Viva Colombia!) have been able to craft a brand story that informs consumers on the power of natural and non-toxic beauty. Because as they ask “isn’t health the ultimate luxury?”

Here’s what you can learn from the beautiful Tata Harper packaging.

1. Branding is more than a logo

Tata Harper puts her money where her mouth is by living and breathing her brand promise. Sustainability is more than just words for the brand. It’s easy to tell because choosing FSC papers for packaging isn’t ever the cheapest option. They don’t believe in short cuts or more importantly, they don’t believe in outsourcing. So Tata Harper has built their labs and farms to oversee everything that goes into their bottles.

If you’re building a brand that believes in sustainability and putting people over profits, it needs to show in everything you do. 

2. Cellophane level transparency

Each Tata Harper bottle has the batch number etched into the bottom of the bottle that allows you to enter it on the website to see when it was made and who made it. Complete with photos of the team that made your product providing transparency from Farm to Face.

Their paper cartons use FSC materials which the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies the paper has been harvested responsibly. FSC paper certification also comes with an FSC number that allows you to enter it into the FSC site to know where the material came from and where it was produced. Part of FSC certification is its chain of custody process which keeps certified and non-certified materials separated throughout the supply chain. Tata Harper’s packaging also uses 100% PCW (Post Consumer Waste) in its recycled paper boards.

3. Become the expert

You may not be an industrial engineer like Tata Harper, but you can still learn how things are made to make the right decisions for your consumer. By picking the right partners and hiring the right employees you can learn enough to fill in your knowledge gaps. You don’t have to know everything, but you need to know you’re asking the right questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

When it comes to packaging there are many materials out there that claim to be sustainable, do your research. For instance, Tata Harper’s glass bottles are surely more costly than acrylic bottles but because glass is highly recyclable that material aligns with the brand they’ve built. The materials you choose say a lot about your brand.

Like Tata Harper, Intl. Direct Packaging has built our factories to produce everything we sell from making our corrugate board to rigid gift boxes and bags. Our teams of industrial engineers have patented many box constructions that are widely used in the market today because we believe in innovation over the status quo.

Each one of our master cartons shipped to clients include a hand-signed label by the person responsible for quality assurance of the product in that box. Our 100% quality control means we inspect every item we produce and can manage a transparent supply chain from start to finish. 

No shortcuts.

No middlemen.

We are the factory.


Retail Luxury Packaging Design Shopping Bag

Packaging Design / Five Reasons You Need It in 2020

Brands today are experiencing major growth in their online business as more and more people get comfortable with eCommerce. Aside from making an online purchase via your website, the only real physical engagement consumers will have with your brand is packaging design. The need for packaging design that tells your story, sets the stage, and delivers what digital interactions are incapable of, isn't decreasing. Innovative packaging design is in high demand and it's expected to continue to grow through the rest of the 2020s.

This article outlines five reasons why you need packaging design now that can evolve to carry your brand over the next decade.

1. There's a bee-line for online

Consumers zooming for an online school, working from home, and digital happy hours are in search of a physical connection. We all are. Packaging design delivers that and more.

Ecommerce packaging design not only protects the product but when used appropriately can elicit emotion.

2. Location. Location. Location.

With fewer mall visits consumers have fewer physical interactions with brands they love. We see our favorite brands as retargeted ads on Facebook, Youtube, or in our personal Google search results, but it's not the same as walking past your favorite store and talking to the staff to see what's new in your size.

Packaging design delivers an experience in the consumer's home. Packaging may be the one opportunity a consumer has to connect and share something special that day or that week. With packaging design done right, your brand may be responsible for delivering a memorable moment at the right time, in the right location. In the hands of your consumer.

3. Make an Introduction

Understanding the timing of packaging design cues also allows the brand to control the pace of the unboxing.

Packaging design is like an introduction, with 3 to 4 parts depending on the complexity of the consumer's journey.

The Opening (not the literal opening of your box): This is where the consumer receives your packaging. You've captured their attention.

Self-presentation: How you look is as important as what you say. If the outer box arrives damaged that becomes a component of the memory your brand is imprinting on that consumer.

Statement: Now that you've gotten their attention and your appearance is up to snuff, you can say something. This can be welcoming messaging printed on the tape, under the flap of an envelope, or on the interior of your shipping box. Take the time to engage with the consumer before they have removed your product.

It can even be educational, teach them how to dispose of your packaging once they've enjoyed your sustainable packaging.

The Pay-off: Designing a frictionless product removal is critical to packaging design and engineering. Making sure that your distribution center understands how important the job they do in the warehouse to the bigger picture, is how you manage every step of your brand.

The Send-off: Once the contents have been removed and the consumer is ready to enjoy their purchase you can elevate the experience by saying "thank you" and "good-bye".

Every introduction ends with a good-bye, packaging design is no different. In polite society, we never leave without saying good-bye. Packaging design is no different.

4. Efficient Packaging Design

A well-designed suite of packaging works together to systematically reduce redundancies, and at the same time reduce costs. Packaging designers aren't only concerned with how your packaging looks or what materials it's made out of. Packaging design begins with the product, inventory, and the logistics of your business.

Yes, packaging can be pretty. But if it doesn't work for your business, expenses get real ugly.

5. Flexibility

Our factories manufacture millions of bags and boxes annually for luxury brands all over the world, and one thing we've learned is they all demand flexibility. Packaging designed to deliver flexibility means that with just a few modifications packaging can be converted to seasonal or limited edition packaging without impacting timelines. In some cases, this flexibility in packaging is designed so that it doesn't impact COGs as well.

As more brands move more products online, packaging will continue to be critical to your brand. Having a partner that understands design as well as how to manufacture complex packaging will be the growth opportunity you didn't know you needed.

Thank you for reading this article. If you have any questions about elevating your eCommerce packaging, please contact us.

We'll talk soon.

(that's our way of saying good-bye and we look forward to seeing you again)

 


How to design luxury packaging header image shows notes on packaging render.

How To Design Packaging for Luxury

Why is it so essential to understand how to design packaging for luxury in 2020? With so many brands filing Chapter 11 every month, we can safely say it isn’t due to any of their packaging. Yet knowing how to design luxury packaging may be the lifeline you need to keep your brand top of mind.

First. Let’s understand what packaging is and does. We know when we design packaging, it's to protect the product during transport from manufacturers to warehouses to distribution centers, it also protects e-commerce and DTC products. Knowing how to design packaging to safely move goods from point A to point B is usually handled by packaging engineers that can determine impact zones, air cushions, and material stacking strength. 

Properly engineered transit packaging can also deliver cost savings to the bottom line by reducing material, storage space, and damage rates. Designing packaging for palletization and maximizing container loads can also reduce costs in transit, which directly impacts your COGs.

Then there is the type of packaging that creates an emotional connection through sensory cues, bespoke materials, and strategic designs. This is the packaging design that wins the glamorous awards like Pentawards, The Dieline, or The One Show. Because even though there are awards for packaging that can survive massive impacts, nobody is showing up to receive those in a tuxedo anytime soon.

This awe-inspiring packaging is what we’re talking about, the type of packaging that becomes a physical representation of the brand in the hands of the consumer. On the flip side, bad packaging is sometimes even more memorable than creative packaging because humans tend to notice the negative more than the positive. Even more to consider is that the older we get, the more we notice the positive as we live in the present, yet those consumers in the 20-30 age range take notice of the negative faster and are the same demographic using social media more frequently, and making eCommerce purchases. To be clear, eCommerce packaging matters. A lot.

Understanding these key concepts are a frame of reference for the decisions you’ll make when designing luxury packaging.

Step 1
Design Packaging Strategically

Most established brands have a brand strategy in place that outlines the brand’s pillars, what it stands for, who it serves, and so much more. If you’re just starting and don’t have this laid out, I suggest you watch the team @ TheFutur share what a strategy building session may look like. Every strategy is different, but this is a good starting point. 

Once you know what your packaging is saying (who you are), who you’re saying it to (who they are), and what resonates with that audience (what they want), you’re able to begin crafting your packaging. A well planned out strategy will make edits and decision-making easier, it also allows internal brand conversations to be objective instead of subjective. 

How to design luxury packaging begins by understanding that luxury in and of itself can also be subjective. What is a luxury to you may not be luxury to someone else, design accordingly.

Step 2
Design Packaging for the Product

Packaging is an extension of product design, therefore it only makes sense that to design packaging for a product or service you must understand the product or service related to your strategy.

In this article, we will focus on luxury retail packaging for a fashion brand to make the process clear. 

Retail packaging consists of retail paper bags, rigid boxes, tissues, ribbons, hang tags, receipt holders, and a complete eCommerce packaging program. Knowing the products in luxury fashion, you can use this list of packaging as a starting point for design. Since we are designing packaging for fashion we need to understand the size variations across all SKUs to determine the appropriate sizes of bags and boxes. The goal of step 2 is to understand the capacity requirements of the product to determine the appropriate bag and box sizes.

Armed with dimensions for bags and boxes, you are ready to determine lengths and sizes of tissues and ribbons, garment bags, and dust bags. Everything ladders up to a well thought out packaging system that is efficient for the brand and memorable for the consumer.

Step 3
Design Packaging with Materials in Mind

Luxury packaging has a sensual quality to it, you want to touch and feel it.

Selecting materials for luxury retail packaging begins with hand-feel and how light reflects off of the material. Uncoated papers absorb light which, gives you a natural feel and an even color. Coated paper reflects the light creating hotspots of light and reflecting colors in its environment. Either can be found in luxury packaging make the choice based on your strategic goals. 

Sustainability is a major-major topic for brands of all sizes. When you’re deciding on papers and materials, this is the time to begin looking at PCW content, recycled content, and/or FSC papers. Many paper mills are beginning to find unique sources for their raw materials giving you an added level of telling your sustainability story. James Cropper, for instance, has found a way to recycle coffee cups to create their line of luxury packaging papers Rydal using Cupcycling. 

Handles or ribbons come in many different stock weights, weaves, and finishes. Select the appropriate ribbon or handle finish to contrast the papers by sight and feel. A heavier weave where you can see the threads may reflect a more masculine brand, refined linens or heavy gauge satins can communicate a feminine touch. 

Luxury paper bags require a stock of paper with deeper audible tones that come from heavier stock. The lighter the paper stock, the higher the pitch delivered, which can feel cheap and inexpensive, not what you want for luxury. Make sure you listen to your paper and hear what it tells you about the brand, as with every step in this article, confirm that it aligns with your strategy.

Boxes are made of board wrapped in paper, when you design packaging for luxury, it is your responsibility to select the board as well as the paper wrap to control the complete consumer experience. Design based on the strategy, your packaging manufacturer’s job is to help you find the balance between finance and creative. 

Share your strategy and contact your local paper rep or packaging showroom to request samples of materials that they feel can help you achieve your desired experience.

Step 4
Visual Design

Yes, once you’ve considered everything about your packaging, it’s time to consider visual design application. For retail packaging, there are many types of box constructions, but they all revolve around three main ideas. 

- A two-piece box is a base and a lid that separates when you lift the lid to reveal a product inside.

- A hinged lid box is a tray with a lid that folds back and away from the consumer to reveal the product inside.

- Drawer box, this style of box is exactly as it sounds. A tray that is pulled out of a sleeve-like a drawer to reveal the product inside.

These three concepts can be adjusted to create many more unboxing experiences, but they all revolve around the same concepts. Having the appropriate sizes, you need you can decide which box interaction will resonate with your consumer-based as outlined in your strategy. Based on the box sizes and construction, you can layout the main face of your box and bag program in many ways. 

You can sketch the length and width dimensions on paper, use software like Adobe illustrator, Esko, or SolidWorks it’s up to you and what you have available. You may even be able to lay it out in PowerPoint, it’s not recommend as the files won’t translate to production, but in a pinch, it may get you what you need for a quick proof of concept. Don’t get hung up on not having the latest and greatest software, computers are just a tool to communicate what’s in your mind.

Every brand has a different logo, tagline, and marketing message, so based on your brand’s assets, you will need to determine the size and position of the logo on retail bags and gift boxes. If you’ve never designed packaging, it’s always useful to look at what other people are doing. Identify what is working for them and what may or may not work for you. Test your ideas. 

A great starting point is to look at what the big three are doing.

Chanel Packaging:
White matte retail bags and boxes with black logos centered vertically and horizontally. Chanel also offers a black program with white logos in essentially the same design.

Louis Vuitton Packaging:
Mustard paper with a vibrant blue contrast colored handle and the black logo centered vertically and horizontally.

Burberry Packaging:
Textured uncoated brown paper with an exact match brown angle cut ribbon and black foil logo centered horizontally and raised 1/3 the height of the packaging vertically.

Many luxury brands allow their logos to be the focal point by contrasting it against large fields of matte-finished papers. They also create a tactile interaction between handles, paper stocks, and how the logo is applied to their packaging by either embossing, foil stamping, or silk screening. 

It’s just as important to recognize what you are seeing and what you are not seeing. You are not seeing wild combinations of colors and eccentric sizes and structural packaging. Luxury is reserved and concise. What you don’t say with the latest packaging structures and print processes you say with quality materials and detailed manufacturing.

Step 5
Design Packaging for Luxury Production

Once you design packaging and it's approved, make it real. Choosing your packaging partner is just as critical as choosing the size of your logo. Transparency in the manufacturing process is necessary to make sure every detail of the packaging is being combed over, reviewed, and approved throughout the mass production process. 

Pre-production samples are provided early in the production process to confirm all details like fit, function, material, and production quality. It’s also important at this stage to test your packaging samples with the product, test it at the cash wrap counter to make sure it works with your staff, your behind the counter storage, and even test it with consumers. 

Design aspects you want to be critical of include depth of embossing or deboss, cracking of paper around scores or folds, rubbing of color, and art alignment. Having a guaranteed quality control and quality assurance program in place with your manufacturer will save you time and money.

Choosing a factory-direct packaging partner allows you on-the-floor factory access to your production. Working with International Direct Packaging guarantees a 100% QC/QA process, which means that every item is reviewed and approved before being packed in master cartons with team leader documentation for every order. 

Packaging design and engineering if a huge undertaking, more than we can cover in 5 steps. But these 5 steps are a great starting point for anyone wanting to begin to understand what it takes to design luxury retail packaging.

As a buyer of packaging, you know it’s not always about the lowest cost, but about the right partner. Understanding how to design luxury packaging can prepare you to ask the right questions and create packaging that means business.

At IDP, we know it takes a lot to design packaging and manufacture packaging so, schedule a consultation to learn more about our complete design and manufacturing process.