I’m sure that we’ve all heard that first impressions are an important aspect of life. In fact, according to a study carried out by two Princeton psychologists, Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov, it takes roughly one tenth of a second for us to make up our minds about a person’s character and personality based on their appearance, facial features, hair style etc.
This is an astounding revelation as it means you constantly have to look (and feel) your best in a professional environment, as first impressions can be a challenge to correct over time. If someone doesn’t like you within the first 60 seconds of meeting you, they’re less likely to enjoy your company or utilize you in future. There’s really little to no room for error here.
Naturally, this principle affects your brand and product(s) just as much as it does your own personal self-image. When launching a private label brand, it’s important to realize that you’re almost never entering a market free of competition. Unless you’re creating a product that’s completely new and has never existed before, you’re bound to encounter a wide variety of competition.
Because of the fact that private label brands have gained popularity in recent years, and the fact that manufacturers have adjusted their processes to accommodate for the growth in the private label sector, the amount of people starting their own brands has increased greatly.
The fact of the matter is that this rate is bound to increase in future, as new technology makes it quicker and more affordable to launch your own brand.
While this may have a really good effect on the manufacturing sector, it means that many sectors will become saturated – and in fact, already are. Ultimately, this makes it a lot harder for you and your brand to stand any chances of succeeding in the market. Consumers will simply have too many choices available to them – each with its own claims, or offering prices that are lower.
This means that you have to create a product or brand (or both, preferably) that stands out from the rest. There are a lot of variables that can affect a brand’s image or identity and help to persuade a likely consumer to choose yours over one of the countless others available on the market at any given moment.
Packaging is definitely a core feature of your brands identity and can help to increase your chances of standing out in the marketplace. While this may sound like a simple choice – there is a lot to consider when packaging your product. I hope to illustrate some of those choices for you, and enable you to make the right choice for your brand and product line in particular.
What Is Stock Packaging?
Stock packaging is basically pre-made, generic packaging that is designed for easy use, is quick to acquire and is cost-effective. They’re designed in such a way that you can literally place your product in the container directly after purchasing it, stick a label on the front and the back – and you’re ready to go.
They’re generally inexpensive and, as I mentioned, quite generic – which means that they’ll look like many of the other products available on the market already. Stock packaging is one of the most common examples of packaging that you’re likely to encounter – especially when entering the market with your own brand or product.
Stock packaging comes in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes, quantities, lids, features, handles, grips, etc. However, they are generally geared towards mimicking or replicating standard or common containers already available on the market today. The best way to describe a stock package is that you’re likely to recognize it when you see it.
The Advantages Of Stock Packaging
Stock packaging is generally cheaper (than custom packaging, but we’ll get to that) and is more well-suited to start-up businesses that have limited budget. Stock presents a great way to get your business off the ground.
- Stock packaging is easier and faster to acquire, meaning you won’t have to wait as long to restock than you would with custom packaging.
- If you find that you’re creating a brand that’s centered around a low-cost, high-value strategy, going for stock packaging for your product is the better option. This means you can cut down on manufacturing costs and increase your profit margin, as you’re likely aiming at selling more products at a lower price than the other way around.
- Stock packaging is often created by the same manufacturer who will make your formulas. You can save time and money by getting everything you need under one roof.
- Stock packaging can generally be ordered in large quantities at reasonable cost. That means you’ll have plenty of product to start your business with and even extras as samples for trade expos or as gifts/prizes to help increase your brand awareness in the market place. Stock packaging basically offers ‘more for less.’
What Is Custom Packaging?
This is basically the direct opposite of stock packaging and, as the name suggests, is based on the custom needs or specifications of the brand or product in concern. Where stock packaging is readily available, produced in large or even bulk quantities and is generally generic or mimics packaging that already exists – custom packaging is quite the opposite.
When it comes to designing custom packaging, there are a lot of variables to take into consideration. For instance, making sure that the packaging suits your brand and the product itself. For example, you wouldn’t want to put an ‘apple’ scented cream in an orange container as it may confuse the customer.
However, if a particular line is designed to have a particular look or feel, this may make more sense. Basically, every container, label and product itself must reflect the overall values of the brand and the company’s vision as this is essentially how you develop a brand, or at least a successful one.
On the contrary, having customizable packaging might be for practical reasons. For instance, many companies are either unaware of this fact, or simply overlook it – but with regards to facial products and skincare treatments in general, it’s best to avoid packaging your product in a tub.
Why, you may ask? Well, every time you apply the product, you’re contaminating it by putting your finger (which contains bacteria and germs) and then putting that directly onto your skin. I’m sure you can see the problem with this. There are a lot of reasons why people choose custom packaging – but here are few advantages of choosing this route.
The most important aspect of having custom made packaging is that you can help your brand to stand out on the shelves by having a product that looks unique i.e. eye-catching.
- Custom packaging promotes brand identity. You can factor your product, brand image and packaging into one, concentrated point that a consumer is more likely to see (and more often) than an expensive advertisement or other marketing tactic.
- Custom packaging allows your product to market itself.
- Custom packaging helps to minimize excess wastage that may occur when filling the packaging, as it can be designed to be specifically suited to your product.
- If you’re focusing on developing a high-cost, high-quality brand, the kind you’ll find in more exclusive stores that are aimed at a more upmarket customer base, custom packaging is probably best-suited to your brand.
Should You Use Stock Or Custom Packaging?
Much like any of the questions surrounding the stock vs. custom scenario, this choice depends on you as a business owner, the nature of your brand and the type of products you’re selling.
If, for instance, you’re developing a cost-effective range of natural shampoos that have been created with stock formulas – it’s probably best to utilize stock packaging that suits your brand and products best. You’ll be able to save money this way and create large batches of product with each production cycle.
This method of business, or this approach to starting a brand, is most effective for startup companies that have a limited budget and don’t need much from their packaging. It’s also worth noting that you can shop around to find packaging that suits your brand or product. There are a lot of options out there – be sure to do your research before selecting.
In regards to custom branding, it’s worth noting that this choice isn’t for the faint of heart or those with the tightest of wallets. Custom branding is an expensive and time consuming process, as you usually have to consult with graphic designers, structural engineers and logistical specialists to ensure that your packaging works.
Not only does it have to be durable and practical, but the packaging also has to make sense in terms of the aesthetic of your brand, your logo and whichever color scheme you select for your brand or a specific line.
While this will help you stand out in an otherwise saturated market and ultimately create a stronger brand identity, it will cost a great deal more. It’s well worth considering the costs, pros and cons, as well as the type of brand you’re trying to create, before selecting custom made packaging.
It’s also worth noting that manufacturer tend to have a minimum volume requirement when it comes to ordering packaging. These will differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, but they’re an industry standard. This basically means that you’ll be required to order a specific amount of product from them when placing your order. Be sure you’re ready to make enough product to utilize in the packaging. If you fail to calculate correctly, you could wind up spending more than you planned to and having excess stock. This could seriously hurt your profit margins and represent a total waste of money.
This may not be as much of an issue with stock packaging. You’re likely to be making product in bulk (and selling them in bulk) and they’re generally inexpensive – or less expensive than custom packaging. Making the same error with custom made packaging can cost you and the manufacturer a great deal of time and money, plus have a negative effect on your personal reputation as it’s basically a waste of material.
Be sure to do all of the calculations and research you need to before making a decision. In my opinion, it’s best to have a business plan and a marketing strategy worked out well before you get to this stage, as you can often draw out plans for packaging options during this phase and save yourself a great deal of time and money in the future.
— Bobsled Marketing (@bobsledmktg) April 27, 2016
To conclude, packaging is an important part of business and branding that should never be overlooked or brushed aside. In my opinion, it’s best to get started with this process as early as possible, as making a mistake in the later stages of your business can cost you lots of time and money that you would have been otherwise able to save or even make for yourself.
It’s important to see your packaging as a direct extension of your brand – that and your logo are the first consumers will see of your brand. It’s important to make a lasting impression. However, the best way to make a lasting impression is not with ostentatious and flashy labels or with brightly colored or intricately designed packaging (although this may work). Rather, you should create a product and packaging combination that directly reflects your brand and has a consistent visual message throughout.
Obviously it’s also important to remember that it’s what’s inside the packaging that really counts – a good product goes a lot further than nice packaging. However, making a good first impression is important in almost every aspect of life. Making a lasting impression is even better and usually if you get the former right, you’ll achieve the latter too. Keep that in mind when you’re drafting your marketing strategy and you’ll save yourself time, money and stress.