Do You Actually Need a Packaging Sample?

So you’ve developed your products and you’re ready to flood the market. But wait… do you have proper packaging?

As we’ve discussed previously, packaging is very important for various reasons – identification of brand, dissemination of information, creation of content and more.

There are many variables of the packaging process. One of the biggest debates is whether you need to get a sample of your packaging component before mass production.

3 reusable bags of varying sizes in navy blue and tan with a grey background.

Packaging Layers

You must be thinking: What do you mean? Packaging is just a box or bag or something. Essentially, there are 3 layers of packaging, each serving a different purpose.

Outer Packaging – your first contact with the customer. This could be the shipping box, shopping bag, and so on.

Inner Packaging – what keeps your product safe in the outer packaging. It can be anything from packing peanuts (starch-based, of course) to tissue paper, to a plain bag that acts like a barrier.

Product Packaging – what people normally associate with packaging. The labelled bottle of hand soap, the tag that is placed on a shirt, a candy bar wrapper.

Each packaging layer allows you to tell a part of your brand’s story.

When a Packaging Sample is Important

There are many instances where a packaging sample is a benefit.

To ensure proper fit. If your product is a unique shape or size, then you’ll probably want a sample. Unless you plan on sending the actual product to the factory, then banking on the product fitting into 1,000+ units with no prior testing is a huge risk.

To confirm packaging design. We’ve seen it time and time again – a design that looks great on paper but just doesn’t seem to translate to the actual packaging product. Everything can look different once you see the actual sample in person – size, colour, font. There are a lot of things that need to be considered. Physical samples are also handy to identify flaws that may not necessarily be visible in a 2D mock up.

For feedback on design. Having a sample is a great way to start an inevitable discussion. Would you rather get feedback on your packaging at the beginning of the process, or when you have 1,000+ units ready to go? Exactly.

3d mockup of one reusable bag to be shown to client as sample

When to Pass on the Sample

With all that being said, there is one particular instance where having a sample isn’t a must.

If your design is simple and straightforward, you really don’t need a sample. Some things to consider when determining the complexity of your packaging:

  • does your design involve a lot of contrasting colours?
  • is your product a unique shape?
  • does the packaging have to be a very specific size?
  • is the design complicated?
  • are there a lot of packaging layers?

If your answers to these questions are no, you may not need a packaging sample prior to mass production.

So What Are Your Options?

Even if you don’t need a sample, it’s still a good idea to see what previous products have been created. If this is the route you want to go, feel free to ask for samples of past projects, such as corrugated boxes, paper bags, reusable bags and so on.

Digital Mock Ups are also a fantastic way to preview your design in a hyper-realistic way. If you’re on a strict deadline and don’t have extra time to wait for a physical sample, this is the way to go.

Of course, the most recommended option would be to get the physical sample. When starting the process of getting packaging produced, ensure that you have enough time to finalise design, colours, dimensions, and more. We typically recommend anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks for this process.

digital mockup showing arrangement of samples for cider company

Every company’s demands and situations are going to be completely unique. Contact us today to see what the best option would be for you!

Gabrielle Ho
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