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Branded Marijuana Packaging : A High-Rising Trend

The call for medical and recreational marijuana has grown considerably in the last couple decades and, along with it, the call branded marijuana packaging. According to an article from the Guardian, the cannabis industry has clocked in at a whopping $2.7 billion, an increase of 74% from last year. As with any growing industry, new vendors have come out of the woodwork. From celebrities with their own strains, to subscription services like Potbox, the industry has skyrocketed to the mainstream.

And while these vendors are surprisingly diverse, they all seem to come to the same conclusion: the proof is in the packaging.

New Markets. New Look.

The Guardian article draws attention to Potbox and how branded marijuana packaging was a key part of their strategy. Rebranding the entire marijuana scene, with all its stereotypes and preconceived notions, is no small order. But Potbox made a strong effort to create packaging that was less like the shady sandwich bag and more like upscale coffee. Similarly, Snoop Dogg’s line of cannabis hired one of the top graphic design firms in order to create packaging reminiscent of rich chocolate.

“We invested heavily in packaging, so consumers had a confidence when they saw the product it would be quality and have integrity – that was one of the early hallmarks of our brand,” Joe Hodas told the Guardian. Hodas is the chief marketing officer for Dixie, another international marijuana vendor. But this presentation packaging wasn’t just a marketing move, the packaging was also vital to complying with various states different regulations. This is one of the benefits of smaller packaging runs and digital print–the ability to change the information and aesthetics on the fly to better serve a market.

Plastic Makes Perfect.

PlasticsNews discovered a similar trend. Plastic inserts and containers are necessary for most cannabis-related products, but even those need to be designer, so as not to evoke the ‘used prescription bottle’ look associated with the closet days of marijuana use.

Whatever the source, branded marijuana packaging is being used to change perceptions and increase sales. One could say that producing marijuana is the easy part, evolving the industry is the real challenge.

The real question is how soon will we see a definitive, correlating packaging trend–like vaping and cigar-style boxes–in marijuana packaging?

Image: Potbox PR

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Protective Packaging: Finding the “Goldibox”

Ecommerce continues to corner the market on how consumers purchase goods in the modern day. Groceries are just about the only thing left that people like to buy in person–and even that has multiple online delivery. But as this online market grows, so to has the demand for appropriately protective packaging. This is where it gets tricky.

If you’re an astronomy buff, you might have heard Earth referred to as a “Goldilocks Planet.” Borrowing from the old story about porridge temps, a goldilocks planet is a ‘not too hot, not too cold” planet that’s just the right distance from a sun to sustain life. And if you’re not an astronomy buff, you still know how rare this occurrence is. After all, no planets have opened up in the real estate market just yet.

How does this all relate to packaging exactly? Well, you could say the search for ecommerce protective packaging is like trying to find a “Goldilocks Box.” A Goldibox, if you will.

For ecommerce packaging, striking the right balance between several design factors has proven to be an astronomical undertaking. The packaging can’t be too heavy, else the shipping rate goes up. At the same time, if the packaging is too light, you lose durability. And nobody wants a to find a broken product upon delivery. But they don’t want it over-packaged with filler or fluff. But there needs to be packing material, of course.

At the end of the day, you’d wish you were dealing with porridge. Maybe even finding a second Earth is sounding like less of a chore at this point.

custom_protective_packaging_with_Thermoformed InsertDesigning a catch-all box for ecommerce is almost impossible, especially as the range of products available online continues to grow. When the spectrum goes from perishable foods to expensive, delicate electronics, the demand typically errs on the side of protective packaging. Totally green packaging, or lightly packed cardboard boxes, is a nice idea in theory–and does work great for lots of products–but you’re not going to trust a one-size-fits-all cardboard box for a $600 piece of hardware. For that, you want something rugged. Durable. A box that doubles as storage, not instantly disposable.
A new report from the Freedonia Group agrees. According to an article from Logistics Management, numbers for protective packaging are estimated to grow nearly 5% through 2019 as ecommerce continues to become the shopping method of the realm. What this tells us is that the focus for package design moving forward will be a sort of hybrid between the eye-catching visuals we see at the brick-and-mortar stores, the shippable nature of cardboard, and the rigid strength of presentation packaging.

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Cratejoy Answers the Call of Subscription Boxers

Subscription boxes are some of the hottest products in the online marketplace. Boxes that appear at your door, loaded with goodies, almost by magic. A once-a-month Christmas custom-made just for you. The packaging for these boxes typically steers toward the minimalist approach. One-color designs on corrugated cardboard are the most common, opting for an ‘eco chic’ look. However, some skew into the presentation packaging range, especially for subscription crates with more high-end contents.

The marketing is sound. You get the surprise factor of a present, but with the comfort of knowing it’s something you like. With so many to choose from, the toughest decision might just be picking one. Everybody knows about the big dogs: LootCrate, Dollar Shave Club, and the like. But what about more niche boxes that might have a lower profile? You don’t want to miss out on those.

Enter Cratejoy, a site devoted to organizing, listing, and even hosting various subscription boxes. The site itself is sort of a digital subscription box–a meta box–a box of boxes–to help you find just the right one. Products range from ramen boxes to wrestling paraphernalia, dog treats to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Fan box.

The coolest part of Cratejoy might be the ability to create your own subscription box. An online store of sorts let’s you create your own crate. Populate your box each month, get subscribers, and let the hunt for cool monthly packables for your devoted fans ensue! Prices vary per box, of course, but some of them are as low as $9 a month!

Is creating a subscription box your dream? Then discover how Cratejoy can give you a leg up. But if your dream is just to organize cool items in classy packaging…well, we have you covered there.

Custom Magnetic Boxes

The Long and Short of Short Run Boxes

Small or short run boxes are becoming more popular by the day. The freedom to refresh the look of packaging on the fly seems to speak to the grass-is-greener crowd, or startups that either don’t have the capital for a large run or haven’t finalized logos, artwork, etc. Whatever route your aiming towards, there are a few things to remember.

Think Small

USB-boxes1Short run boxes, that is runs typically consisting of 100, 250, and even 500 pieces, aren’t just for indecisive or low-capital companies. There’s a lot of strategy in creating packaging in low quantities. Exclusivity, for one. Though we as consumers may not like to admit it, products with exclusive or limited edition packaging sell. Pairing luxury packaging with exclusivity adds value exponentially.

And short runs don’t even have to be a collector’s thing either. Creating a product launch kit for distributing to potential investors is always a smart move. Product samples in refined packaging show merchandisers how much pride a company has in its product. Using a specialty packaging for this purpose is a must. Appealing to merchandisers and corporate buyers is a different game than attracting consumers in a retail setting. Different information, statistics, and images can be included on/in launch kits, versus what might end up on store shelves.

Short Run Boxes Vs. Long Term Assets

product launch kit_short_run_boxesBut, there’s a few things to remember if you’re considering a short run. For starters, it’s not always the cheaper route. Like anything in bulk, the price comes down when purchasing more. Why? No matter the project, assets must be created. Molds for custom cavities, metal dies for stamping logos, stencils and templates can be costly to design as well as to construct. When spread across a multitude of boxes, this ‘tooling cost’ comes down. More packaged products sold, the higher return on your packaging invest. If you have a high-end product, shorter run packaging is less of a sacrifice. High-end packaging is expected to be of a certain quality, a certain grade. You wouldn’t box an iPhone in shrinkwrap and paperboard like a bar of soap.

As in all things, short run boxes have their pros and cons. It is important to talk to a knowledgeable box manufacturer in conjunction with your marketing team to ensure the best course of action.

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Sustainable Packaging Trends for 2016

2016 is still young, but packaging trends are already emerging. As to be expected as the years continue on, with the population growing more exponentially than natural resources, the focus of these trends has been sustainability.

In an article for Packaging News, environmental enthusiast Tom Szaky talks about the importance of sustainable packaging. As revealed in the article, this idea isn’t new, however the push for it, and the execution, is.

The first half of Szaky’s list concerns labeling. Claims of “Recyclable” need to be vetted, and fine-printed addendums like “may be available in some areas” are growing less popular by the second. Looks like honesty is still the best policy when it comes to labeling.

Perhaps the most shocking element presented in this list, is the use of bioplastics. Plant-based plastic that is biodegradable seems to be a hot ticket. But Szaky warns to be wary of this new technology as the processing and manufacturing of these materials have yet to be proven ‘green.’

Finally, Szaky sees the popularity of lightweight packaging increasing. The idea of lightweight packaging seems beneficial for everyone involved. If the box is made of less material, the packaging is more affordable for the business. If the box is lower quality and biodegradable, then the consumer has less difficulty disposing of it. But, Szaky puts it best when he says:

Consider the long-term viability of lightweight packaging before committing to it.

Why? For starters, that type of packaging might make people skip a crucial part of the recycling process–recycling. If a product is biodegradable then people might just throw it in the trash, not giving it another thought. Not only is this bad for the environment in the long run, but it puts a dent in the vital recycling industry.

Even as Szaky pushes for green packaging, he admits that lowering the quality–the reusability–of retail packaging could impact the goal of sustainable packaging negatively. Presentation packaging, even the most lavish–especially the most lavish–is typically kept long after the product has been opened, either for storage or display or both. Creating packaging that lasts and is keepsake quality does its part in the sustainable packaging movement.

Image: TerraCycle

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Make 2016 The Year of the Box

Well, here we are on the other side of the new year. Big, bold 2016. The Year of the Box.

Okay, maybe we’re not collectively as a society calling it that yet, but we will. Until then, that’s what we’ll call it around here. The year the box makes a big comeback.

Custom Watch Retail BoxIt’s not really a comeback. Custom packaging is a mainstay of retail. Of marketing promotion. Of storage proper. Let’s be real here: if you have a product, you need packaging. A custom box provides vital information to the consumer. In the retail world, 99% of the time, your product will need some sort of packaging, and a custom box is the way to go.

Fortunately, it’s not a superfluous measure. Some people think of a retail display box as an overgrown label, but that’s hardly the case. Custom boxes are a safety measure. Not only does a custom-fit box safely store products, sparing them from being damaged during shipping, but they provide security on the retail floor. An outer shell, such as a custom box, already deters tampering just because of the extra step in the opening process, but magnets, metal snaps, tuck tabs, can ward off even the most determined shoplifter. Or nosy shopper.

Speaking of nosy shoppers, that’s the other great thing about a custom retail box. Not only does it provide functional storage pre- and post-purchase, but that packaging is the first proponent of visual marketing for your product. Customers see that packaging first. The “visual real estate” of a display box is priceless. It acts as advertising, instructional and informational material, and a promotional beacon, making your product stand out above the competition. The addition of transparent display windows or thermoformed fitted blister packaging, gives the customer a look and a feel without those eager hands trying to get a better grasp of your product before they buy it.

Custom Hinged BoxCoast Promotional Box

No, this isn’t news, at least not to the savvy retail marketer. Deep down, you probably know it. Maybe your company specializes in high-end earbuds or a tablet, or even thank-you cards. And maybe your recent retail presence hasn’t been the greatest. If that’s the case, you’re in luck. It just so happens to be the Year of the Box. Resolve to rebrand, repackage, and restore the image you’re looking for. As products go, custom boxes, launch kits, and gift packs are the equivalent of a new suit, a new haircut, or a new attitude.

(If that new haircut could also make you money and protect you from being stolen, that is.)

Make this the year to make a change to the way your product is promoted. Send the message you want to send, the vibe you wish your product gave off.

Make packaging work for you in 2016. Make it the Year of the Box.

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Oversized Packaging Becomes Oversized Problem

Oversized packaging, or excessive packaging, has been a hot issue for awhile–and it seems to grow more incendiary around the holidays. The push for greener, less wasteful packaging has been growing steadily as people all over the world become more environmentally-conscious. As of today, one of the biggest package shippers has come under fire for it.

According to Packaging News, folks are taking to Twitter to criticize Amazon.com for over-packaging their items.

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As you can tell from some of the photos, tiny items, some of them unbreakable, were sent out in a comically oversized box. Yet, nobody was laughing. Granted the shipping containers are corrugated, so at least they’re recyclable. But even recycled products require manufacturing, use of additional resources, and have to be disposed of properly. Not to mention that bigger boxes mean more vehicles for transportation, which means more fuel burning.

In short, oversized packaging has oversized repercussions across the board. A prime example of when green packaging backfires. People tend to become more wasteful with their packaging when it’s recyclable.

Perhaps Amazon found themselves in a pinch for properly-sized boxes with the demands of the holiday season, or perhaps they were overcompensating for this guy. In either case, the slight oversight has grown to an oversized headache for their PR department.

Oversized Packaging Vs. Excessive Packaging

Amazon-oversized-PackagingIt’s times like these, we like to remind everyone the difference between presentation packaging and excessive packaging. Sometimes people like to rope them together, but in a lot of ways presentation packaging is the opposite of excessive packaging. To put it in more season-specific terms: excessive packaging is the oversized ugly Christmas sweater you wear once, and presentation packaging is the finely-tailored suit you wear to the holiday party to impress your boss. Upscale custom packaging means a box that fits a product like a glove, and is often such a perfect fit, it is impossible to throw away. More often than not, it ends up as a storage device or even a mantlepiece. Shelf-worthy and display-ready. At Sunrise Packaging, we see custom boxes and their products as a team-up, not just a transportation vehicle. Personalized packaging that complements colors and sends messages. Flair without spare! Protection without neglection!

Anyway, you get the picture. We’re not just blowing steam about perfect fit packaging. Even the greenest packaging can be excessive. And look at those pictures again; nobody likes to unbox a product in that condition, especially around the holidays.

Images: Packaging News

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Custom Sleeve Boxes Lower Luxury Cost

If you’re looking for an affordable packaging option but still want to retain the look and feel of luxury packaging, sleeve boxes are the answer. Why? Because, in terms of custom box packaging, it captures the best of both worlds.

Valuable Looks at a Great Value

Though considered a lower-cost packaging option, custom sleeve boxes have a few tricks up their, well, sleeve. For starters, the distinctive opening creates an air of elegance. The main tray slides out of the sleeve much like a vintage matchbox. A unique unboxing is often overlooked as making a custom box memorable, but in actuality something as subtle as a different or unusual opening procedure can add a lot of luxury to a product.

Black_and_white_custom_sleeve_box_from_Sunrise_Packaging_openedThe main tray is also a source of luxury. It’s a rigid chipboard, wrapped in any number of customizable materials, with tightly turned edges that give the box the polished finish of a hardcover book. Therefore, at the first touch, sleeve boxes have the heft of high-end packaging and then followup with the aesthetic. The rigid tray can also be fit with a custom insert–formed plastic or die cut foam. Either option gives your box a more secure, more organized appearance.

On the other side of the coin, custom sleeve boxes have more economical traits as well. For starters, the sleeve is crafted of SBS paperboard. A foldable material very similar to a crisp sheet of paper. A blank canvas for your artwork, logo, or contact info. But don’t be fooled by its lower cost; paperboard is a luxury in its own right. It’s well-known for its sharp printing capabilities, delivering brilliant graphics vividly to the eye. But since it is not chipboard, it is quicker and less expensive to churn out, saving you time and money.

Custom sleeve boxes are a popular packaging option for everything from Thank You cards to flash drives, cosmetics to confections. Every item, big or small, deserves the exposure, the charm, that comes from luxury packaging.

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What’s a Magnet Box?

The NetBox is our premiere magnet box. It’s rigid, turned edge tray overlapped with a hinged lid and magnetic tab closure has become a staple of our lineup. From custom vape kits to a more elegant gift box, this magnetic cigar style box exudes elegance from every corner. But….

Any box can be a magnet box if you try hard enough.

When we think of a magnet box, obviously the NetBox comes to mind first. And it is true that is a favorite–almost a standard–for custom presentation packaging. But a “magnet box” is more of a catchall term, than an actual product. Add a magnet and BOOM! Your packaging solution has just made the jump to magnetic, pal!

A magnetic clasp adds equal doses of luxury, innovation, and security. A person never forgets the thrall of magnets, nor do they ever forget the thrill of unsealing a magnet box. That same satisfying seal adds an extra level of security, promising a box that doesn’t just fall open. A box that holds your items as dear as you do.

But the magnet has also led to some interesting packaging designs. The stability it creates makes for unique boxes. Boxes that don’t just open–they present.

The Gate Fold Box

One of these unique boxes is our signature Gate Fold Box, the box that opens somewhere between a castle gate and a storybook, all sealed with a sturdy clasp that adds a truly luxurious presentation. Fit with a custom thermoformed tray and you have a box worthy of everything from fine chocolates to fine jewelry. Or use it as an outer shell for a gift book.

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Front Open Box

The box that opens like a convertible. Put the top down and you’re in business. This distinctive custom box could be used for something as simple as standup organization for files, or use it a a base for an interesting product launch kit.

New Balance Magnetic Front Open Box

Instant Rigid Box

Arguably the perfect gift box. Ships flat and assembles into a box when you need it, all secured with that telltale magnet. A great choice for smaller items that need a luxury boost. Think designer cupcakes! Or an engagement ring! Or a cupcake with an engagement ring in it!

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The point? Magnets truly make any box cooler. From the tactile snap to keepability, a magnet box might be just the packaging solution your product or organization needs to give it a leg up on the competition.

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Subscription Boxes Gain Steam

The holidays are supposed to be about family and friends, but let’s be honest. For a lot of us, it’s just about the presents. There’s something about getting a gift, even especially in the mail, that gives people the warm fuzzies. It’s no surprise Amazon addiction is a thing–it turns opening your mailbox into Christmas morning.

Except there’s one thing Amazon can’t replicate (or hasn’t yet) and that’s the surprise factor. Half the fun of getting a gift is the element of surprise. What’s in the box?! Now, you might’ve had too much wine before a late night purchase and could be very surprised indeed at what’s in said box. But for the rest of us who think and doublethink our online purchases, there’s a little thing called subscription boxes. And by little, I mean huge.

What are Subscription Boxes?

Once upon a time, you might have thought of them as Cheese-of-the-Month Clubs, but thanks to the popularity of Loot Crate and other subscription services, they’ve become designer. Very posh.

A subscription box is a box full of goodies, usually curated around a theme. Everything from food, to clothing, to makeup, to toys. Usually auto-renewing like Netflix, these ‘crates’ arrive at your door monthly, boasting cool (sometimes exclusive) inclusives worth far more than your payment.

A great example (and my personal favorite) is OwlCrate, a subscription box for Young Adult books. Each month’s box is focused around a theme–Dystopian Future, like Hunger Games, or Epic Fantasy. A subscriber gets a new book and a bunch of other surprises related to whatever genre happens to be the flavor of the month. Cool? Very.

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You could say the fascination with subscription services is the surprise factor, but for a lot of people it’s really about relinquishing the hassle of picking out items. Sure, the straits are not as dire if you’re talking about a box full of toys and collectables–although they do make picking out a gift that much easier. But there are subscription boxes for clothing too. Companies like MM.LaFleur that will have their experts assemble you a box of fully-formed outfits and ship it to your door. If the price is right, that’s a huge burden off a person’s shoulders.

As the designer nature of the ‘crate’ grows, so does the call for greater aesthetics. In fact, marketing experts are already advising e-retailers to move from the classic cardboard box to luxury packaging. Why? Well, the current box material of choice is corrugated, typically e-flute. It’s light, it’s rugged, it’s economical. But, to put it bluntly, it ain’t pretty. Granted, there are several ways to customize cardboard–even ways that will keep it completely environmentally friendly–but typically an e-retailer package looks about as glamorous as your stuffed packed for moving. Is that such a big deal? After all, it’s not like at a brick and mortar store, where that visual impression counts for everything. The customer’s already made the purchase by the time the box arrives!

However, it does come down to visual marketing. Currently, the main advertising for subscription box services comes from YouTube unboxers. Folks that open their crates live on video, with an audience of thousands, potentially even millions. Many more eyes than what could come through a department store on a given afternoon. So if the box is to be the star of the show, shouldn’t it dress like a star? You wouldn’t wear your bathrobe to a red carpet event, would you?

The custom box design needs to pop when it comes to subscription boxes. As the trend starts to rise, and the online unboxings grow, more and more of these services are going to make the move to presentation packaging.

 

Images: LootCrate.com, OwlCrate.com