Packaging acts as an incredibly effective marketing tool for your business. But to take full advantage of this, there is much more to consider than just your box. Adding box inserts to your packaging is simple, yet it may very well be the cherry on top for your branding!

Package inserts elevate the unboxing experience for your customers and provide effective cues for cross-selling, encouraging feedback, and building a personal connection with your target market. So if these facts pique your interest, this guide will cover everything you need to know about the many options and benefits of custom packaging inserts! But first, let’s begin with the basics: what are inserts?

What are Packaging Inserts?

In its simplest form, inserts are additions placed into your packaging to create a more impactful unboxing experience. They can include things such as any printed materials, product samples, or small gifts and can be divided into two categories:

Mint rigid box with white blister, plastic insert
Box Inserts
ian charms custom shape rigid box with promotional paper card insert
Promotional Inserts

Box inserts are additions that protect and support your products, so they arrive safely at your customers’ doorstep. And while the main focus is to protect the product, printing on box inserts is still possible, allowing you to transfer your branding to the box’s interior through patterns, shapes, and sometimes text.

On the other hand, promotional inserts communicate with customers rather than protect the product. Examples of this type of insert include sample product inserts, thank-you cards, or discount codes, typically for marketing value and building customer connections.

Types of Box Inserts

Now that you know the two categories of packaging inserts and have a good idea of what an insert is, we can now delve more into what each type offers, starting with custom box inserts.

Box inserts range from simple to more complex materials depending on the product, but some of the most common materials include:

Types of packaging inserts in comparisons, including foam insert, corrugated cardboard insert, blister/plastic insert and molded pulp insert.

Foam Box Inserts

One of the best characteristics of foam box inserts for packaging is that it’s an incredibly lightweight option, which can significantly save on shipping costs. If you’re looking for a type of insert that is lightweight and more resistant to scratches and wear, then foam is your best bet.

Foam offers more protection than any other option and is best for delicate products like glass, camera lenses, or jewelry that require extra protection. Foam packaging inserts can protect your product from all sides and are fully customizable to fit any shape or size.

blind barrels packaging glass with foam insert

Source: PakFactory

Corrugated Cardboard Box Inserts

Corrugated cardboard packaging inserts are a versatile option across many industries but are most prevalent in e-commerce. Corrugated material offers moderate protection and durability during shipping while maintaining outstanding sustainability by utilizing renewable and recyclable materials.

But even if corrugated offers less protection than foam, it is still an excellent option for fragile products. And contrary to foam, corrugated packaging inserts allow for a broad range of high-quality printing and finishing capabilities that create an unforgettable unboxing experience and enhance your brand narrative while ensuring your product remains safe.

kraft mailer corrugated box with printed insert

Source: PakFactory

Molded Pulp and Plastic Packaging Inserts

We’ve included molded pulp and plastic together as they are like two sides of the same coin. Like foam, both options cannot be printed on as the result tends to be lower quality due to surface texture. Another similarity is that molded pulp and plastic offer precise molding capabilities to fit your product accurately.

However, these options differ in their usage, sustainability, and protection. Molded pulp offers greater protection than plastic while also being excellent for sustainability and the environment, but is not a very food-safe option save for a few exceptions like egg cartons.

Conversely, plastic is lightweight and easily molded but not as protective and highly harmful to the environment. However, plastic inserts are still commonplace in the medical and food industry.

molded pulp inserts
Molded Pulp Insert
blister or plastic insert inside a rigid drawer box
Blister/Plastic Insert

Printing Directly on Box Inserts? 

We mentioned briefly under each section of standard inserts if printing was possible or not for each option. Put simply, printing only works for paper or cardboard-based materials, but it’s not very common to feature too much text or marketing material. 

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment or add a little flare to enhance the unboxing experience! Printing minimal designs on your box inserts allows for a more exciting experience and aesthetic to your product than a bland, brown insert.

For paper and corrugated insert materials, possible printing techniques include:

  • Flexographic Printing: Stamps non-photo quality designs onto corrugated cardboard material. Great for large quantities.
  • Digital Printing: Allows for a wide choice of colors by utilizing the CMYK ink spectrum and offers photo quality print, but is more cost-effective for small batches.
  • Lithographic Printing: The design is printed onto a label and stuck onto the surface. Though this method is technically possible for foam and molded inserts, their rough texture may cause some issues, so it is still best to utilize paper or cardboard material if you want seamless customization.

Coatings and laminations are also possible for paper and corrugated insert materials. Finishes such as gloss or matte are just some options available to make the interior of your package pop!

black rigid box with colorful paper insert

Source: PakFactory

Types of Promotional Inserts 

Promotional inserts are the other type of insert we will be discussing. Unlike the box insert, whose primary purpose is protecting the product, adding a personal touch to your packaging through a promotional insert establishes an authentic connection with your customers and enhances the unboxing experience.

Not only will you appeal to your customers on a more personal basis, but you’re able to establish a strong and defined brand narrative that runs throughout your product packaging. How do you do that? Let’s look at just a few promotional packaging insert ideas to give you a better picture.

To learn more about packaging insert ideas, click here!

Thank You Cards Inserts and Personal Notes

Thank you cards or personal notes are a straightforward and genuine way to communicate with your customers. Consumers look to make authentic connections with the brands they shop from, so something as simple as a ‘thank you for shopping with us’ note plays heavily into relationships brands build with their target market. 

Card inserts are the most inexpensive way to personalize your unboxing experience and establish a vessel for communication with your customers, as thank you cards have proven successful in creating positive first impressions of a brand. 

Thank you card

Source: Unsplash

Discount Codes

Offering your customers discount codes is also a way to express gratitude and build customer loyalty for your brand. They allow cross-promotion of other available products offered and encourage more purchases from your customers!

You can even go as far as having personalized discount codes for your most loyal customer base, which do exceptionally well in creating sharable packaging for social media platforms. Customers will feel special having a personal discount code they can use and share with friends and family through social media.

Subway gift card

Source: Unsplash

Instructions and Information

Another common way to use promotional inserts is to communicate information such as;

  • Instructions 
  • Ingredients
  • Warnings
  • Risks

Including instructions and information inside your packaging helps guide customers with how best to utilize a product and maintains a transparent relationship with your customers. Printing important information onto separate substrates inside your packaging ensures your customers get the message loud and clear.

Customers appreciate transparency, so including this as a packaging insert allows you to establish strong brand credibility while maintaining a healthy relationship with your customers.

Sonhab chocolate packagings in a mailer box with paper card insert

Source: Sonhab Chocolate with PakFactory

Pros and Cons of Custom Box Inserts and Promotional Inserts

Beyond adding value to your unboxing experience, promotional inserts and box inserts offer a plethora of benefits that far outweigh what little drawbacks they might have. And though this all depends on the type of inserts you choose, inserts are almost always an excellent decision to include alongside your product packaging.

black rigid box with paper insert

Source: PakFactory

The Benefits

Different box insert materials and promotional options serve different purposes. However, the overall benefits of having one or more of these inserts may include some or all of the following: 

  • Added Protection,
  • Cost Efficiency,
  • Customizability,
  • Communication,
  • Promotion,
  • Creating a Brand Story,
  • Enhanced Unboxing Experience.

Custom box inserts, such as foam, serve as additional protection measures. Inserts can protect your items during shipping and distribution, ensuring your products arrive safely at their destination. And contrary to common belief, packaging inserts won’t necessarily drive your costs up drastically. 

Corrugated box inserts are an extremely cost-effective option that keeps your products safe while enhancing your brand narrative. Other inserts like foam and plastic are not particularly heavy, allowing you to keep your shipping costs low and prioritize design features instead.

Furthermore, molded pulp and plastic box inserts are quick, easy, and cost convenient to create.

vanquish purple rigid box with foam insert and product

Source: PakFactory

The amount of customizability afforded with packaging inserts is also a boon for your company. Inserts can be whatever you need them to be. Whether you’re looking for something straightforward, such as functionality and protection, or to add a more high-end feel to your products, custom box inserts are your answer.

Additionally, card inserts are an excellent communication tool for your brand. Whether you want people to get to know your brand better, learn more about the product, or encourage them for feedback and review, promotional inserts accomplish that. You have a line of communication directly with your customers, allowing them to align themselves and build a reputable relationship with your brand.

But not only are inserts excellent communication tools, but they also help brands create their story and promote their products. Well-executed promotional inserts are beneficial for establishing your brand story and creating a positive first impression on your customers.

You can also use inserts as a means to cross-sell products and encourage users to check out your website and see what other items are available.

Packaging inserts are also important from a social marketing standpoint so that customers can discover your brand across platforms and ultimately gain your brand more exposure.

Finally, custom packaging inserts enhance the unboxing experience. High-end packaging and custom box inserts can ensure that the unboxing experience is a special moment, which isn’t just beneficial for customer acquisition and retention. It is also helpful from a marketing perspective since it encourages customers to share their experiences on social media.

Learn more about the benefits of custom box inserts here!

The Drawbacks

We mentioned earlier that box inserts have a few drawbacks. And though they may be minimal, it is only fair to cover both sides for a complete picture.

With anything custom, it will take longer to make than if it were stock. The same applies to custom inserts. Particularly with the box inserts, many are tailor-made to fit a single product, so if you’re selling many different items, problems may arise here. Promotional inserts are affected by this too, but not to the extent of box inserts that must fit the specific product to fulfill its primary protection goal.

Additionally, although we mentioned that inserts are not as expensive as people might think, they are still more costly than void-fill or other standard alternatives. Consider your budget before investing in custom packaging inserts!

the after company rigid box with foam insert and printed paper

Source: The After Company with PakFactory

Custom Packaging Inserts are Excellent Across Many Industries

Different considerations will dictate what kind of packaging insert your products will benefit from most. But ultimately, inserts are what you want them to be and work in many industries. They can serve a functional purpose, a promotional purpose, or both. Get creative and come up with your own custom insert options!

You can create beautiful packaging inserts that show off your brand story in collaboration with promotional card inserts and help your brand acquire and maintain a loyal customer base.

So if you’d like to begin your journey with custom box inserts, contact PakFactory today to create an unforgettable unboxing experience for your packaging.


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