Before you even get into the design of the packaging, there are a few things that we highly recommend that all of our clients have before we start working on the packing design.
Finalize the number of SKUs you need to launch.
The first thing we recommend is to finalize all of the SKUs (Stock Keeping Unit, a single product at as specific size) you would like for your launch. If you’re thinking about adding or removing product SKUs before you launch, now is a great time to do that! We recommend that you have at least three SKUs for your launch. Most retailers want to see at least three that they can arrange on shelves. If you are launching your business and want to wait to enter retail, one SKU is okay for a short period.
Select the type of container you want your product in.
Next up, we recommend selecting the type of packaging you would like your product to be in. That could be a glass bottle if your product is a dressing, beverage, or sauce. If your product is a spice, you could pick something fun, like a tin! We’ve been creating a lot of pouch packaging recently, especially for soups, hummuses, or dressings; many products can go in pouches, so it’s absolutely worth exploring. We recommend considering how you would like your product showcased as you evaluate your options.
However, if you intend to sell your product only through e-commerce or you’re going to be shipping a lot, we recommend avoiding glass if you possibly can. There’s a lot of potential for the glass to break! Also, you’ll have to invest in extra shipping material to ensure your product is packed well. That is one of the reasons why many of our clients have gone to flexible pouches; plastic does not easily break.
If you need a neckband, label, cap, or other items for your packaging, gather those samples as well.
Once you have isolated the kind of packaging you want to use, the next item on your checklist is to figure out whether you need a label. Do you need some type of safety seal for the top, like a neckband or something along those lines? Do you need to have a cap? What colors are available? All these things are excellent if you figure them out in the beginning before you start the design process. Depending on the kind of container you want to put your product into will drastically affect how your design team can approach the actual look of your packaging.
I highly recommend that you lean on your design team to advise you on the type of container you use for your product. Especially if your designer has a lot of packaging experience, they can help guide you to the best approach for your type of product.
Order a physical sample of your container.
Once you have figured out the type of container you’d like to use, you’ll want to get a physical sample to see the size and ensure your product will fill the container nicely. Ask the manufacturer to send you a sample if you’ve found something you love. Sometimes you have to pay for samples, but often you don’t, which is a nice perk! We highly recommend sharing with your design team so they can ensure the label looks great with the selected packaging; they’ll do mockups so you can see the label on the container and make sure that it looks great before you do an entire print run.
There are lots of different vendors to source your containers. We highly recommend reaching out to a packaging community (like StartupCPG) to connect with people who can provide you with these samples.
Reach out to printers to get label samples if you use a glass or plastic container for your product.
Once you’ve settled on the container you’d like to use, you know the label size for your container. The next step is to get label samples from a few different printers, especially if you’re doing something that’s going to be in a container. You’ll want to make sure you know the printer’s capabilities. If you’d like to dive deeper into how to find a printer, we have another blog article and video that further this topic!
When you reach out to printers for samples, the more physical label samples they can send, the better. That way, you know which printing techniques they’re capable of. Once you get to production, your design team can create a label that is the right size and sets up the file to leverage the kind of printing techniques that will make your packaging stand out; making your project move so much smoother.
Finalize your product formulation.
This is usually the part that takes the longest when you are taking a new product to market. Often packaging projects are held in limbo while clients finalize the recipe for their product that will be produced at a larger scale. We strongly recommend working with a co-manufacturer or test kitchen to finalize your recipe and ingredient sourcing so there aren’t unexpected delays.
Before you start the packaging design process, you’ll want to make sure your recipe will work at a larger scale and that you sample your recipe. It would be such a bummer if you invested in packaging for a product and you can’t get the formulation right, so you have to scrap it. Selecting the right co-manufacturer to scale your recipe can be very advantageous in saving time and frustration as your business launches and scales.
If you tackle all these items before starting your packaging design process, it will make your project move much smoother. If you would like a complete list of all the things that are required to go on your packaging, um, we have a free download that you can snag; just go to this page!