The Ultimate Guide to Subscription Box Packaging Design

Two words: Subscription Boxes.

Business powerhouses such as Forbes and McKinsey have done extensive research on e-commerce consumers and the rise of this trend, and the verdict is clear – subscription boxes gaining momentum and are here to stay. The industry has exploded in recent years with companies like FabFitFun, BirchBox, and HelloFresh profiting from that Christmas-morning feeling. There’s even subscription boxes for your pets! (Guilty of having a BarkBox SuperChewer subscription for my own pup, Benji).

However, these boxes are not only for companies that specialise in it – established businesses are getting in on the action as well! Walmart, Sephora, and Starbucks are just a few examples of businesses that have jumped on the subscription box train, and you can too!

There are many facets to consider when starting to design something like this. There are so many moving parts – partnerships, products, information guides, advertising, and more. We thought that the least we could do was make the packaging process as easy as can be for you.

Thinking of starting a weekly/monthly/seasonal box for interested consumers? Start with this article to get an idea of what you have in store for you.

What is so special about subscription boxes?

I think everyone has been asking this since they first started gaining popularity.

I mean… they’re just products that you can most likely buy in a number of stores right? In the case of meal subscription boxes, you literally only need to go to a grocery to obtain every product you’ll find in any given box.

The top 2 reasons that people have fallen in love with these boxes are simple – convenience and shock-factor.

Convenience

Be honest with yourself: when was the last time you were supposed to cook but just couldn’t bring yourself to get off the couch and go to the supermarket so instead you used one of those food delivery apps. Sometime this week? Same.

By subscribing to a meal plan, you get to experience new dishes with minimal effort. That’s the idea behind this entire trend. A box that arrives at your door full of goodies that you’ve (most likely) never tried before and are curated just for you? Sign me up!

Consumers do not have a penchant for subscriptions. Having to sign up for something is a deterrent for most individuals, so it’s definitely not the subscription they are attracted to in these scenarios. It’s the experience they’re gaining – personalised products at lower costs, a hard task made simple, one less trip to the mall – that keeps them coming back for more.

shock factor

I personally know a lot of friends and family members that are always looking forward to their next subscription box. There’s a unique feeling attached to the receipt that you can’t experience outside of your birthday and/or Christmas (or any other gift-giving holiday).

Most subscription services will require you to complete a quiz to determine personal tastes so that specific products can be chosen for your lifestyle. When a consumer receives a box with 10 or so products specifically for them, of course there’s the excitement to see what has been chosen in this round.

The anticipation of these products and their satisfaction lead to a repeat subscription and positive word-of-mouth, so it’s important to keep your consumers on their toes. In order to shock and delight your customers, the end-to-end experience must be phenomenal – and that all starts with the packaging.

Which Packaging Product Should i use?

Hands down, you should be using a corrugated box for shipments. The corrugated box is sturdy and can handle items of heavy weight with ease. It protects its contents and is more rigid than folding cartons (made of paperboard).

We can help you create custom mailer boxes in any size for your subscription services with a range of design elements. There are many other factors to consider once you have chosen the size and quantity of the box however.

Colours

This is an easy one. Ensure that your company’s colours are the focus of your outer box design. If those are blue and white, feel free to add in some complementary colours such as orange, but the main attraction should be your company. You need to make certain that your customers will identify your brand upon seeing your box arrive in the mail and this is the easiest way aside from the presence of your logo.

Artwork

Believe it or not, a box with a simple design on the outside and a complex design on the inside is the crowd favourite. When your customer opens your subscription box for the first time (and even after that), they appreciate that shock value and unexpected surprise of seeing what design is awaiting them on the box. It adds to the perceived value of the product and reinforces the idea that subscription boxes are indeed special.

Fillers

These are a huge part of making your box “instaworthy” and social media friendly. These fillers are designed to cushion the box’s contents while extending the brand experience for the consumer. We wouldn’t suggest a custom insert for these products as the number and size of your products are likely to change with each rollout of boxes. Instead, go for something of standard size like shredded custom Kraft paper, tissue paper, or wrapping paper. You may even consider Kraft paper bread bags as an option. It’s easy to customise these items with your logo, company colours, slogan and more (Ask us how!)

Add custom stickers with your company’s logo for a sure win! As long as you maximise your customer’s ‘unboxing experience’, you’re likely to get some additional buzz on social media as they share that experience with everyone else.

Measuring and Shipping your box

Once you have a general idea of box contents, type and design, you need to figure out the size you’ll want to go with. Most likely, you’re going to want one standard size for all of your products but you need to remember to create shipping requirements for the boxes.

Depending on your target market, the products may be small (like jewellery brand, Rocksbox), or may have an assortment of items (like lifestyle brand, FabFitFun). Once your size if determined, you need to figure out what the maximum weight will be once it is filled. Remember to always be consistent, because if you go over your maximum weight allowance, you can end up increasing your shipping costs exponentially!

You should also pay special attention to where you are shipping your products as this can determine the rate. These factors can help at the very least to create a ballpark for your shipping costs, which in turn will help you choose the appropriate size for your subscription box.

A third-party fulfilment service is another avenue to explore as they may have special deals with specific carriers.

how can lekac help?

By making everything simple.

From quotation to fulfilment, our team is here to help you along the way. Choose from our existing products or let us know what specialty items you require and our sourcing team will get on it.

Your job is to provide the products, and our job is to know about packaging. We don’t expect you to know about all the different finishings, text enhancements, printing techniques or anything else – that’s what we do. If we can help you take one aspect and simplify it, then we call that a job well done.

Contact us today to discuss your project ideas and we can have a quotation and mockup ready for you almost instantly – we can’t wait to hear from you.

Gabrielle Ho
gabrielle@lekac.com
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