From Cardboard to Cash: How Custom Packaging Drives Sales


A boutique bakery swaps generic containers for charming, colorful, whimsical cookie tins. Charmed by the unique packaging, customers buy cookies and share photos of the treats online, spreading brand awareness. This marketing tactic can go further, making the product packaging part of a collector’s item and turning repeat buyers into brand loyalists. This is the power of custom packaging as a marketing and sales tool. 

What Is Custom Packaging and How Does It Impact Sales?

Custom-made packaging is developing product packaging tailored to your brand. It can involve anything from the shape and size of the box, the materials and colors used, the printing techniques, and even interactive elements. One primary benefit of custom product packaging is that it protects your product more efficiently than generic containers. 

Another great benefit of bespoke packaging is its ability to nudge prospective buyers to make a purchase. Between a generic brown cardboard box and an eye-catching box, the latter always gets more attention. There’s data to back this up, as the global custom or bespoke packaging industry is expected to grow to $63.07 billion by 2030.

So, how does bespoke packaging work its magic on sales?

1. Custom-made packaging translates to storytelling

Product packaging is a platform for compelling storytelling. It’s the first point of contact between you and a customer, shaping their perception of your brand. Additionally, it enables effective visual communication to your target market. Your packaging communicates your brand’s message through design elements, colors, and imagery.

Unique unboxing experience translates to elevated product value. Bespoke packaging taps into this psychology by transforming the unboxing experience into a mini celebration, making an ordinary purchase feel extraordinary.

For example, a hand-painted coffee plantation scene on a custom coffee box brings it to life. You haven’t even brewed the coffee yet, but the aroma of roasted beans is already on your mind. 

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2. Custom packaging reinforces brand value

When you say something is customized, you know it has gone through many processes, such as: 

  • Brainstorming 
  • Iterating
  • Refining 
  • Finalizing 

Every process and design element reinforces your brand’s core values. Imagine sleek, minimalist packaging embodying your dedication to modern design or vibrant, playful boxes reflecting your brand’s youthful spirit. This consistency strengthens the association between your product and its unique qualities. But the impact goes beyond aesthetics. By incorporating premium materials, thoughtful features, or even personalized touches, you elevate the customer experience. The multi-sensory experience translates to perceived value, increasing sales not just through immediate attraction but also by solidifying your brand’s premium positioning in the minds of consumers. 

3. Bespoke packaging affects a buyer’s behavior

Custom boxes shout, “Pick me!” to a buyer. Around 72% of American shoppers consider the product’s packaging in their purchasing decision. A buyer first notices the packaging and maybe admires its visual appeal. Then, they’ll think about how the brand took the time to think of impressive ways to present its product, leading to perceptions of quality and authenticity. Before they know it, the irresistible allure of the packaging has won them over. 

4. Custom packaging elevates the product’s perceived value

Packaging design is a persuasive marketing tool. Picture a bottle of olive oil. In a plain glass bottle, it becomes another generic product on the supermarket shelf. But if you put it in a sleek, dark bottle with a gold cap, a picture of a sun-drenched Tuscan olive farm, and embossed lettering, suddenly, it looks premium. The visual experience of the cap, the feel of the embossing’s texture, and the evocative imagery all elevate the oil’s perceived value. 

When something looks premium, it feels premium. Deluxe packaging subconsciously suggests higher quality and justifies a higher price point.

5. Made-to-order packaging reinforces product security

Because the package is tailor-made, it can act as a barrier to minimize the risk of damage during transit. This is particularly important when shipping perishables and glass items. Consider a fragile hand-blown glass ornament that’s bubble-wrapped and packed in a generic box. Even with the bubble wrap, that’s a risky chance to take. Now, think about the same item but packed in a custom-molded foam insert with a sturdy box. Buyers are willing to pay more for the assurance of safe arrival, which helps build a reputation for quality.

What Custom Packaging Design Elements Help Boost Sales?

Good, bespoke packaging design must balance form and function. The packaging shouldn’t just look pretty and make a good impression, but it should also withstand the rigors of shipping.

1. Storytelling and Brand Identity

Product packaging is a great way to tell a story. More than presenting stunning visuals, storytelling through design is about forging an emotional connection. Each interaction, from the shelf to unboxing, becomes a touchpoint, reinforcing brand recognition and leaving a lasting impression. This emotional investment fosters loyalty, turning one-time buyers into brand advocates. 

Customization allows you to create a cohesive design that showcases brand consistency across your products. Your message can leverage humor, nostalgia, or other emotions that drive sales. For example, Le Petit Trou—a lingerie brand—showcases empowerment and sexiness through a minimalist color palette, evoking feelings of desire without being blunt.

storytelling and brand identity through cohesive product packaging design

For a seamless branding experience, make sure to unify these certain elements in your packaging:  

  • Logo
  • Color schemes
  • Fonts
  • Taglines
  • Visual assets

2. Striking Visuals and Finishing

In a crowded marketplace, custom packaging needs to grab attention fast. High-quality printing with vibrant colors and captivating imagery instantly draws the eye. Remember, the visual impact goes beyond sight, so consider incorporating playful peek-a-boo windows, unusual shapes, or interactive elements to heighten the sensory experience. Investing in visually striking and tactilely engaging packaging creates a memorable first impression that sets your product apart.

Bold, vibrant colors, exciting and playful patterns, and striking, thought-provoking images make for an engaging visual experience. But even with muted hues and minimalist patterns, you can still engage your audience with a refined and elegant finish. Consider using special finishes such as metallic foils, embossing, or textured papers to add a luxurious and interesting touch. The goal is to make it a feast for the eyes and improve brand recall. For example, Sunski packages its sunglasses boxes using bright yellow materials that evoke sunshine imagery and feelings of happiness, which aligns with the brand’s image and identity.

visuals and finishing evokes feelings from custom box design identity

3. Sustainability and Convenience

Today’s discerning customer appreciates brands that embrace eco-conscious practices while prioritizing convenience.Approximately half of US shoppers are willing to pay more for sustainable materials. Utilize proper packaging made from recycled materials or rapidly renewable sources. This demonstrates your commitment to environmental responsibility, which resonates well with modern values. Balance sustainability and convenience to appeal to eco-conscious consumers and reinforce brand recognition as a forward-thinking company.

Consider incorporating features like easy-open closures, resealable compartments, or portion control options. These thoughtful elements enhance user experience and demonstrate your understanding of their busy lifestyles. Think reusable pouches or snap-shut boxes that double as storage containers. Such convenient designs also enhance the customer experience, and when a customer is satisfied, it leads to repeat purchases and positive word-of-mouth. 

For example, these resealable snack pouches provide easy storage and extended freshness.

sustainability and convenience easy storage reusable snap boxes pouches

4. Interactive Elements

Transform your boxes into conversation starters with the power of interactivity. By using QR codes, for example, brands can spark curiosity and redirect potential shoppers to exclusive promotions or additional content. Augmented Reality (AR) experiences can bring products to life, while hidden messages can ignite curiosity and social media buzz. The true value of interactive elements lies in the emotional connection they create. Inviting customers to participate in your brand story cultivates a lasting bond that transcends the product itself. This ultimately boosts brand recognition and drives customer loyalty.

interactive elements in custom packaging box qr codes AR

By strategically using these elements, you can create a powerful sales-generating marketing tool with your packaging.

Does Custom Packaging Increase Sales?

Custom product packaging can significantly enhance sales, but it’s not a magic bullet. The key is understanding how it connects with your target audience. By integrating design elements that narrate your brand story, visually engage, and provide convenience, you’re crafting an experience that surpasses mere product housing.

Think of bespoke packaging as an extension of your marketing strategy. It subtly influences purchasing choices right at the crucial moment. However, keep in mind that its effectiveness depends on your audience. Bold visuals might impress millennials, while eco-friendly packaging could appeal more to environmentally-conscious consumers. You unlock its full potential by tailoring your custom product packaging to match your target market’s values and preferences.

Does Custom Packaging Always Work?

Custom packaging has tons of benefits, but it’s not without drawbacks:



Enhanced brand image

Increased production costs

Targeted marketing

Longer lead times

Improved customer experience

Potential for errors

Effective product marketing often entails customized packaging, but not every business requires it. Anything custom-made is generally more expensive and takes considerably more time. If your business is just starting out or you don’t have a cohesive brand identity yet, customized packaging can take a backseat for now. Another instance where custom packing isn’t worthwhile is if you have a product with a short shelf life. 

It’s important that you identify your industry and product specifics to see if customized packaging is a worthwhile investment. You can always expand to bespoke packaging once your business has found its footing. 

Final Thoughts

In today’s crowded marketing, standing out from the shelf or screen is critical. Custom packaging can be your secret weapon in turning an everyday product into something unforgettable. It can reinforce your brand’s narrative and upgrade your product’s perceived value. 

Before you dive into custom packaging, you must first do your research. Consider your product, industry, and especially your audience. What resonates with them, and how can your customized packaging align with their values? The answers to these questions will help you unlock the full potential of custom packaging, helping you increase sales, product engagement, and foster brand loyalty.

Refine Packaging is the top choice for 1000s of small businesses, Inc 5000, and Fortune 500 companies alike when it comes to custom packaging boxes. With super fast production times, affordable pricing, and a sky’s the limit attitude, we’ll help you turn your custom packaging into a competitive differentiator. Contact us today and a dedicated packaging specialist will guide you through every step of the custom packaging process without breaking a sweat.

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