Guide to Cost-Effective Premium Packaging

Guide to Cost-Effective Premium Packaging


According to packaging authority Smithers Pira, the luxury packaging market is steadily growing by 4.4% per year, and paperboard accounts for 42% of luxury packaging materials.

Due to the growing demand for luxury goods and the increasing competition for niche markets, it’s really a no-brainer that opting for (rigid) premium packaging is a good direction.

While many businesses may want to opt for premium, when the cost comes into the equation, it can be a bit (or very) disheartening – especially for smaller and medium-sized businesses.

See also: 4 Ways You Can Create Affordable Premium Packaging Without Using Rigid Material

This guide will shed some light by providing you with a step-by-step guide on how to tackle the process of putting together high end packaging for your luxury products, in the most cost-effective way possible!


Clear Specifications

Make sure to have your product & potential box measurement, projected quantity and project objective in place first. Why?

This is typically the general information required to provide you with a quotation. The faster and clearer your information is, the quicker you’ll receive a quote!

If you’re looking for the most cost-effective option, a packaging specialist can determine what elements need to be changed, altered and/or added, based on your specifications.

See also: 5 Steps For Preparing Your First Customized Packaging

packaging-preparationPlanning Way Ahead

As with all successful projects, producing a high quality packaging requires giving yourself and your manufacturer enough timeline (Remember rigid packaging takes about 20-30 days to produce). 

Constructing these types of boxes requires meticulous work and a highly skilled operation team to develop them at the optimal result.

Knowing Your Budget

This is an important step which shapes the trajectory of your project.

With your budget dialled in, you can finalize the scope of your packaging, know your limitations and minimize delays in your design.

Now that you have a better idea on how to prepare for your packaging, let’s get to the fun part! 

Types of Styles

When it comes to box styles for premium boxes, there are several options you can choose from:

Magnetic/Hinged – This style offers a simple and effective unboxing experience. Made from substantial greyboard material, the sound and feel of a magnetic hinged lid closure elicit an impression of luxury.

Two Piece – The “iPhone Box Effect” or classic gift-opening experience. Two-piece box are held together by friction, adding to the anticipatory excitement while unboxing.

Drawer Style – The drawer style box is another effective way to create unboxing suspense. This box slides out to present products and is known for its strength and appealing look, which means it will stand out on shelves.

Custom Shapes – Custom structures give you the edge of creating a packaging that sets you apart from your competitors. The unique shape also helps convey your branding much more directly.

Collapsible – A collapsible box can have the same elements of a magnetic box, but this box can be folded into a flat structure. Collapsible structures help keep costs low, while still maintaining a luxurious unboxing experience.

2-piece-and-collapsibleCost Effective Recommendation: For large volume orders, go for collapsible structures. Shipping these styles will be significantly less expensive because they are able to be folded into a flat structure. 

Two-piece boxes are also typically a cost-effective choice due to their minimal & standard structure.

Once you’ve chosen a box style, you still need to think about whether your box requires extra protection.

Is your product fragile? Does it need a protective insert?

A great and popular option for high end boxes are foam inserts. You will need to spend extra for these add-ons but they make a big difference in your product protection and save you costs on potential product damages. 

Box Dimensions

Once you’ve picked your box style, it’s time to determine the dimensions of your box.

When measuring, you’ll want to base your calculations on internal dimensions.

We can’t stress enough how important it is! Internal dimensions, internal dimensions, internal dimensions…

Unlike external measurements, which include the thickness of the box, internal measurements help to ensure a snug fit.

To keep costs low, try to make your box dimensions as small as possible, while ensuring enough space to fit your products.


Think of finishing as the cherry on top or the final wax after a sports car has been washed and detailed.

It affects the final appearance while providing a level of protection.

Gloss Lamination (left), Matte Lamination (centre), Textured (right)

There are many finishing options you can use to create the luxury look for your box but for the sake of keeping costs low, here are the two popularly used:

Matte LaminationMatte Lamination is the most popular among the finishing for its luxe and simplistic appearance. It is considered to be the “fashionable” and elegant finish compared to the rest.

It is also best for special printing options such as Spot UV, embossing, and gold/silver stamping.

Gloss Lamination – Gloss laminate provides outstanding vibrancy to packaging boxes and grabs the attention of potential customers instantly. It repels dust, dirt and fingerprints making the packaging super durable.

Textured paper is also widely used among this type of packaging but typically the least popular for small to medium-sized businesses due to the cost.

Special Finishing

foil-stamp-editThis process is part of the magic. Adding special finishing provides an eye-catching, impactful look to any box and assists in brand differentiation.

There are three primary options:

Spot UV – This finishing process increases the perceived quality of packaging by sealing in color, producing an appealing sheen, and protecting the surface. This all adds up to a fine look of luxury.

Embossing/Debossing – Embossing is a popular technique that adds a raised imprint of a design or text, adding visual appeal and complexity. Debossing, on the other hand, creates a depressed imprint on the box packaging.

Foil Stamping – This printing process applies a thin coat of color or metallic foil to the surface of box packaging. Gold and silver are typically used for a luxurious effect. Foil stamping is best applied on smooth surfaces.

Adding special embellishments like these are surprisingly not as costly as you think with large quantity orders!

Packaging Design Elements

design-elements-boxLuxury is easier to recognize that it is to manifest. Thankfully, there are several elements that you can utilize to produce the desired result without spending a fortune. 

Here are several points to help infuse a sense of luxury into your box packaging design:

The right amount of suspense – You don’t want to overwhelm or underwhelm a customer as they unbox your product. Design your box to create suspense without offering an experience that is too fast or too slow. Think Goldilocks!

Prestige branding – This is about restraint and minimalism. Less is more. Consider clean, understated elements over extravagant logos and overly intricate visuals. The elegant design speaks volumes.

Work with light – The way light interacts with your box design is crucial. Use contrasting finishes and coatings (foil stamping, lamination, etc.) to provide an attractive look in any lighting.

Include texture – The feel of a box can be just as important as its visuals. By including an embossed feature or another tactile element, you further engage the senses for an unforgettable experience.

Crisp folds and ease of use – Poor box structure and ergonomics can kill anticipation. No one wants to get a papercut while unboxing or struggle with a box that’s difficult to open. Make the structure pain-free and simple. 

Aural experience – This may not be obvious, but sound is another important element. Whether it’s a hinge, lid, or fold, every part of a luxury box can be tuned to elicit the perfect unboxing sound. Remember, adding an element like a magnetic closure won’t break the bank!

Personalize it – Anybody can provide a box, but it’s the great ones that offer a truly unique unboxing experience. Add a personalized handwritten thank you message and special promotional card for that specific customer.

These elements provide an extra boost to the experience of opening a box.

By including these low-cost components in your box design, you will impress customers and create opportunities for developing a loyal customer base.

Structural Design

This is where dieline making comes into play.

The dieline is a computer-designed 2D template for your box packaging. It includes a layout (including custom artwork) of the final physical box, flat and unassembled.

This is required to produce samples and mass production of your packaging.

If your structure is simple & effective, you won’t need to pay extra service fees for custom structural design.

Thankfully, several manufacturers, like PakFactory, can reimburse you for this service when you work with them.


So, why create a prototype?

When initially designing your packaging — especially if you are ordering a large quantity — it’s important to inspect the box to ensure you are happy with its functionality.

The manufacturer typically does all the required testing and proofs; however, having a tangible custom sample will help you see if there are any hidden mistakes that might not show up in the proofs before final production.

If there are any changes needed, you can avoid producing hundreds or thousands of boxes, and paying the associated costs, on packaging you aren’t 100% satisfied with.

Working with the Right Manufacturer

packaging-serviceNever settle or be short in this department.

Especially when producing premium level packaging, it is vital that you collaborate with packaging experts that can guide you through every step of the process.

Look for a manufacturer that can not only provide the best cost reduction recommendation for your project, but also assist you from ideation to fulfilment.

Spending just a little more on service can make a big difference in your overall experience!

At the end of the day, all these elements should drive a singular purpose — to provide a luxurious unboxing experience that will be treasured.  With this guide, you can design your luxury box and save on costs at the same time!