We all know packaging is the thing that looks easy, and is horribly difficult, however it doesn’t always have to be. A great place to start to develop your first packaging is with the help of your competition.

To begin, don’t think of your competition as the evil dark force, but a bunch of people who accidentally spend their entire time thinking up ideas for you to reference as you develop your business (this applies to EVERYTHING). In this case, we’re looking specifically at packaging.

First of all make a note of the top three competitors (at LEAST) hopefully there are much more than that you can look at. Then,, buy their product (don’t open it till you get home!!)

What you want to figure out is: how much your competition is spending on their packaging, how they are constructing their packaging, how they are protecting their product, what kind of ‘look’ your competitors are portraying, and how they are merchandising their product. These tips are great clues as to what the good and bad of your product sector will bring you.

To begin, bring home that competitor packaging you got and take pictures from every angle before opening them. Also measure the size of the external packaging (be kind and take the measurements in inches and mm not every place uses either and you want to bring them good information from the start.

Next VERY CAREFULLY (did I make that bold enough?) open the packaging. You want to see all the very little things that they use to package the product. Lay the packaging flat or however it is finished (if it’s vacuum formed, yes, it will not go flat for you.) Take more pictures and measurements. You want to get all this info straight to your manufacturers (see the next step).

How much are they spending? This seems like a pretty complex question, but it’s nowhere near that bad. First break down what kind of packaging your competition has, think about it in terms of the manufacturer and what they’ll be charging for something like that. The easiest go around there is to have a design exactly like that quoted at your favorite packaging house and see what they charge for that. Most of them will be rather forthcoming as they’d like your business and want to work with you, asking a few questions is OK, as it’ll give them an idea what you’re looking into and get you a better ballpark number of what they can generate.

Also, don’t just bring them 5 different styles and expect them to give you an exact answer on each (that’s a bit ridiculous) but if you have 2 styles similar to what you want to do and can show what you’re trying to do, they should be pretty helpful (remember, they want your business). Also remember, if they’ve helped you a ton, have reasonable prices, and want to work with you, it would probably be a good choice to work with those nice people! This will show you how the packaging is constructed and get you a ballpark on price to help you decide what to do. You should also have noted their product protection plan upon deconstruction.

Using this information you can weigh cost, design styles, and product protection to get you a good idea of how to package your product.

Happy Packaging!

Guest Blogger: Fred Schechter

P.S. If you like this content, then Click Here to learn more about the comprehensive guide we’ve created on the subject.