Packaging for your Subscription Box: What to look for
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Packaging for your Subscription Box: What to look for

Diving into the subscription box industry? It’s a busy playing field, hosting heavy hitting multinationals such as Starbucks and Walmart. Birchbox, perhaps the most well-known subscription box, has over a million subscribers and in 2014 received a $485-million evaluation. There’s great potential but also heavy traffic. All this to say, if you want to be seen, your packaging needs to make a big statement. What follows are a few pointers for blooming subscription box businesses. There’s a whole lot to consider; hopefully, this post helps steer you in the right direction!

Your package needs to communicate a deep understanding of how you and your subscribers share a common DNA. Often, our first inclination is to think high-concept. After all, when it comes to subscription boxes, word of mouth is key and you want your eye-catching box on display at your subscriber’s next big gettogether. But this isn’t always the case... Check out For the Makers, a subscription box that packages craft goods for DIY projects. The minimalist approach of a white sticker on a plain Kraft box speaks volumes about what’s inside. It emphasizes their DIY attitude and reaches out to the consumer who wants to assemble something from scratch. In a way, it’s a blank canvas, which is precisely what subscribers are looking for.


By contrast, if you’re packaging cocktail wares, maybe you’ll want your box to serve as a soirée centerpiece. That’s where a design such as Tipple Box’s shines.


Remember, enthusiasm comes in all shapes and sizes.

Speaking of shapes and sizes, let’s consider box formats. How many products are you offering per shipment? Is this quantity subject to change? What type of material best represents your brand?


As far as materials are concerned, Kraft is probably most common. It’s the least costly and emphasizes that boutique, hand-made aesthetic embraced by the subscription box industry. If you’re printing full color, SuperGloss or White is the way to go. These materials give you sharper colors and a glossy finish that turns heads.
In terms of the shape of things, quantity will play a major role in determining your box format. You may want to get started with a modest order of 1,000 boxes or perhaps even 500, which means not every format may be available to you. Thankfully, packaging companies such as Packwire recognize the demand for smaller orders and can accommodate Mailing Boxes, Rigid Gift Boxes, Shipping Boxes and Folding Cartons for orders of as little as 10 units. These smaller orders let you produce your own product samples and see how people interact with the different formats before committing to one.

You may be thinking about incorporating stickers or perhaps even custom stamping. These media are often darlings among smaller startups, as they’re cost effective and can be printed on a per-order basis. A con is that they’re labor-intensive and not always the most visually impactful.
At the other end of the pricing spectrum, we have hot stamping. Hot stamping involves adhering a foil to your box using intense heat. While aesthetically striking, hot stamping is also rather costly, particularly for smaller orders. Also, branding tweaks can often take place during a business’s infancy, which means you’re probably not going to want to break the bank on your first run.

At the end of the day, what’s inside the box still matters most. Asking consumers to put their faith into the unknown is a big deal, which means you better boast products worth running back to. Good packaging should capture something that’s already there rather than evoke something you’re not. First, feed the big idea; the rest will all fall into place.