How To Start A Consumer Products Business: Packaging

An article written by Kerry Benjamin, award-winning esthetician and Founder of StackedSkincare, about some key insights in packaging.

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As a brand founder myself, I know that launching a product is an incredibly complex process. That’s why I’m writing this series that walks you through every step. You can explore my previous articles about product design and manufacturing for further insights. Today, it’s all about packaging. Here are some of the key insights I’ve learned about packaging since launching my skincare line.

1. Deciding on a Primary Package

If, like most of my skincare line, your product needs to be housed in a bottle, jar or some form of primary package, you should start by asking your lab or manufacturer for recommendations. They’ll know what material — whether it’s glass or plastic — will be most compatible with your formula. Many labs supply stock packaging, but you can also work with an outside packaging house for more options and customization capabilities. In general, using the lab’s stock packaging is the most affordable option. The fancier your packaging gets, the more expensive it gets. Add-ons like custom bottle sprays and metallization will boost your cost. Completely tooling a custom package will be even more expensive.

When I started my skincare line, I chose to use the lab’s stock packaging — basic but high-quality glass bottles and jars. This packaging served us well for many years. Now that we’re more established, we’re investing in custom packaging to give our brand a more luxurious look and feel. The point is that stock packaging is a strong option for new brands. Instead of going big on a custom package, talk to a designer about how you can upgrade the look of a stock package with a label — more on that later.

2. Testing Your Primary Packaging

If you’re developing a cosmetic product or one with unique ingredients, you’ll need to do compatibility testing in your packaging. This testing ensures that your formulation plays nicely with the material that you’re housing it in. For example, some products need to be airtight. Other products can’t be housed in plastic because they contain ingredients that can erode plastic. All of these are things that your lab will test. If you’re sourcing your package from an outside supplier, you will need to provide your lab with some samples of your package so that they can execute compatibility testing.

During the testing phase, you’ll also want to ask yourself some other questions. Is your primary packaging prone to breakage? How does it hold up if you ship it to yourself? Does it leak? Does it dispense the product easily? How will it look on retail shelves? Will it stand up without a drilled fixture hole or will it topple over on the shelf? Asking these questions during your early stages will save you the headache of a repackage later on.

3. Understanding Labeling Requirements

If your product falls under a governing body like the FDA, you’ll need to understand labeling requirements before you design your label or box. For example, in cosmetics, you must have the net weight of your product on the package. If you’re planning on selling your product in the EU or Canada, there are other labeling requirements like shelf life that you must add to your product.

While much of this vital labeling information can be found online, it is often worth hiring a regulatory consultant. This advisor can help determine whether you should include any warnings or disclaimers on your package and ensure that you have everything you need on your label to remain compliant.

4. Finding A Designer

If you don’t have a go-to graphic designer, now is the time. There is an enormous number of talented freelance graphic designers who are the secret forces behind a lot of the packaging you see on shelves. Tap into your network for referrals, send some inquiries and look at a lot of portfolios before you decide on a designer. You’ll want to hire this person to create both the labels for your primary package, the design of your secondary package — outer box — and any shipping collateral you plan on sending to customers. Bring someone in-house only when you have enough work and the budget.

5. Choosing A Box

Once you’re ready to design an outer carton, you’ll want to find a printing house that you trust. Your printer will design the architecture of your carton — sizing it so that it fits your product snugly and designing any additional inserts that you might need inside of the carton to keep your product secure within the box. Get some samples, and test your product inside. Ship it to yourself, drop it and shake it up. Does the box do its job of protecting the product?

6. Designing A Box

Now that you have the basic architecture of your carton, it’s time to design. Keep your designer looped in with your printer so that they understand what is and isn’t possible from a design perspective. Most packaging designers have experience working with printers and will know what questions to ask during the quoting process.

Together, you’ll look at different samples of paper, finishes and inks. Specialty papers and inks, hot stamping and embossing will all increase your costs. Most printing houses will provide test run samples for free. When testing the samples, be sure to ask how the box will age if it sits on the shelf. Will the inks fade over time? How prone is the paper to staining from fingertips? How delicate is the paper — will the edges of your carton crush in transit?

In addition to your primary and secondary packaging, you’ll need to consider whether you need any inserts for your product. This is a good place to put long instructions and warnings that are essential to the safety and use of your product.



10 July, 2019