Do I need a box for my new product?

Do I need a box for my new product?

That’s a seemingly simple question we’re asked all the time when working with clients who’ve developed a new product. But it’s not always easily answered. Though most of the time, the eventual answer is yes, you’ll probably need a box – eventually.

You’re getting a box, and you’re getting a box....

If your product has multiple parts, is an odd shape, if it’s breakable, or has the potential to be “tampered” with, then yes, you’re going to need a box from the start. For instance, if you’re making a new protein shake that’s packaged in individual use foil packets - those will need a box, probably holding seven foil packets. If your product has a base, three or four parts, accessories, a plug, and instructions - it’s going to need a box. If your product is top heavy, or an odd shape, that won’t stack or stand well on a shelf – yup, you’re getting a box. If your product is fragile, you’re getting a box. Or, if your product could be tampered with or its contents stolen easily... then to avert risk and shrinkage, retailers will prefer or demand a box.

Yes, many of these situations would also lend themselves to other types of “containers” such as blister cards, clam shells, or bottles or canisters - but usually the most affordable option is a box. A box generally doesn’t require the expense of creating a custom mold or thermoform die - which can cost a few thousand dollars out-of-pocket at the start. A box generally only requires a bit of engineering to size it and then to have the die fabricated - usually costing only a few hundred dollars. Sure, you can spend much more for advanced, custom-engineered packaging or for more robust style boxes (i.e., corrugated, set-up, or multi-part boxes) but usually a simple box will suffice.

When don’t you need a box?

Well, aside from the obvious situation, when you opt for different packaging, you won’t need a box if your product category doesn’t usually use a box. Things that come in bottles or jars don’t normally need boxes. Though a box can add appeal. But more importantly, you won’t need a box when you can’t afford a box. Since the box will cost money to engineer, design, print & manufacture, it will add to the cost of your product. So often, early generation products won’t have boxes or won’t need a box until they gain retail shelf space. If your product is selling primarily online - then a bottle, jar, or tube can simply be shrink wrapped and thrown in a corrugated shipping box for delivery to the customer. No box necessary at first.

Your simple box doesn’t have to be ordinary

But once you’ve determined you need a box - though you want to keep it simple to keep costs down - you don’t want it to be bland and boring. Fortunately, simple boxes don’t have to be boring. Though each additional finishing process will add cost, you’re usually only talking about a few cents per option. Your box can be foil stamped, die cut, or coated with a plethora of interesting finishes. You can print on foil board or other unique paper stocks. Or you can combine one or more of these options. So your simple six-sided box doesn’t have to look or feel so ordinary. And it shouldn’t be ordinary.

Make sure your box has shelf appeal

Once you determine a box is in your future make sure you do it right. Don’t short change yourself. Make sure the box has shelf appeal and accentuates your brand. The box will become the first impression of your brand or product consumers (and resellers) will see, so it should impress and add value – perceived or real.

The addition of a box is an opportunity to differentiate your product within your category and on the shelf. A box can make your product appear to be more upscale so it can command a higher price point. So make your box worth it.

So to answer the question, do you need a box for your product? 90% of the time, yes.

Mar 21, 2014

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