What Are Packaging Inserts?

What are packaging inserts

💡Delving deeper into packaging inserts and their capabilities
What is an Insert?
Types of Inserts
Printed Inserts
Benefits of Custom Inserts
Inserts and Marketing
Inserts Across Industries

Your packaging acts as an incredibly effective marketing tool for your business. However there is much more to consider for your packaging needs than just your box.

Adding package inserts to your boxes seems simple and insignificant yet may just be the  cherry on top that your brand needs!

Not only can it elevate the unboxing experience for your customers but also provide effective cues for cross-selling, encourage feedback and, of course, build a personal connection with your target market.

It sounds like a lot, and it is, but luckily packaging inserts can deliver all of this with one simple investment!

Before diving into the benefits, let’s take a look at what packaging inserts are what options you have at your disposal!

What is an Insert?

A packaging insert is just that, a different type of material that is inserted into your packaging to offer your product extra support and informational value.

Think of inserts as a warm, protective hug for your products until they’re handed to their forever homes with your customers.

For the most part, inserts’ primary function is to protect and support your products from production to the unboxing experience.

However, they can serve a purpose beyond just protection, and that depends on you!

Example of packaging inserts
Source: Behance

Inserts hold a lot of marketing value. Giving you an extra surface for printing opens up more doors of opportunity to communicate directly to your customers.

But in its simplest form, it’s an item inserted with your product when it is being shipped.

Adding informational content to your inserts offers a sense of authenticity with a bit of shameless promotion!

Let’s delve deeper into you insert options and look at some industries that have benefited from them!

Types of Inserts

Inserts range from simple to more complex materials depending on the product.

Some of the most common ones include:

  • Cardboard Inserts
  • Molded Pulp
  • Plastic
  • Foam

Cardboard Packaging Inserts

Cardboard inserts are a very versatile option across most industries.

This type of insert allows for a broad range of high quality printing and finishing capabilities allowing for that shameless promotion mentioned earlier.

Furthermore, your insert can help in establishing brand credibility and strengthening your customer connection through informational content such as;

  • Benefits of your product
  • Instructions
  • Warnings

For the most part, cardboard inserts are especially useful for packaging more than one product in one box.

Example of cardboard packaging insert
Source: Maapilim

In other words, packaging an experience.

Making sure your items are sitting tight within your box, decreases the risk of damage to your products during transit and therefore ensures your unboxing experience remains just the way you intended for it to be.

Molded Pulp and Plastic Packaging Inserts

While molded pulp inserts are your cost effective insert option, it may only be effective for certain industries, the same goes for molded plastic.

Printing on molded pulp is not advised due to the textured surface of the material.

The rough texture is difficult to print on giving it a very low quality feel and unfortunately doesn’t add much value to your products.

Think of those egg cartons you buy at the grocery store with poor quality prints. That’s essentially what to expect when printing on pulp inserts.

However, molded pulp and plastic inserts can look and feel expensive with different coatings and laminates if done with intent!

Example of molded inserts
Source: Vogue

For instance, think of those jewelry boxes you get with the indented mold your necklace sits in. This too counts as molded pulp or plastic.

However, it is usually covered with a coating, material of laminate to give it a more luxurious feel.

This too can be further customized with foil stamping to add that extra high end touch you may be looking for with molded pulp inserts.

Molded plastic inserts tend to be much less protective in comparison to molded pulp. However, carries many of the same characteristics with regards to printing, finishes, coatings and laminates mentioned above.

Foam Packaging Inserts

One of the best characteristics of foam inserts for boxes is that it’s an incredibly lightweight option, so it won’t drive up your shipping costs!

If you’re looking for package inserts that are more resistant to scratches and wear, then foam inserts are your best bet.

You’ll see foam inserts in toolboxes a lot for this reason, and they too are customizable.

While printing on foam inserts isn’t necessarily an option, your customization options with regards to shapes, sizes and designs are nearly endless.

example of foam inserts
Source: Pakfactory

Foam inserts also offer a higher degree of protection than the options discussed above.

Think of it this way; your products are cushioned from all angles, even if they are handled roughly, they’ll fall onto a soft padding of foam.

We’ll now look at some printing capabilities for your packaging inserts!

Printed Inserts

Inserts go beyond just protection. Adding a personal touch to your inserts establishes an authentic connection with your customers and an enhanced unboxing experience.

As briefly mentioned, cardboard packaging allows for high quality printing capabilities enabling your creativity to take the lead.

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.

Let’s discuss some ways to utilize printing on packaging inserts below!


Typography is not only for your brand name and logo!

Through the use of offset printing (although somewhat pricey) you’re able to communicate directly to your customers in a clear and concise manner.

High quality printing for typography ensures easy readability and a high end feel.

Example of custom printed insert
Source: Pakfactory

Furthermore, you’re able to communicate much more than just your brand name.

For instance, you can communicate information such as;

  • Instructions 
  • Thank you notes
  • Warnings
  • Ingredients

The cosmetics industry often uses this technique to help guide their customers with make-up looks and how best to utilize their products.

Furthermore, printed inserts offer an opportunity for a bit of shameless cross promotion for other products or for your brand!

Think of it this way; if your cosmetics line has a few other products to offer, talking about how to use one product in collaboration with other products in your line makes your customers aware of what else your brand has in store for them to try!


Communicating key information is important to maintaining a transparent relationship with your customers.

You’re able to communicate;

  • Ingredients
  • Side effects
  • Brand Story
  • Origin of the product
  • Benefits
  • Guides

Printing important information directly onto inserts that are holding your products ensures your customers get the message loud and clear.

For instance; if you are selling vitamins and you know that some people may experience side effects, it would be key for your customers to know the risks that come with your products right away.

While this may seem counterproductive to the unboxing experience, customers appreciate full transparency when it comes to the products they are purchasing.

This also allows you to establish strong brand credibility while still maintaining a healthy relationship with your customers.

Example of informational custom printed insert
Source: Pakfactory

Furthermore, listing ingredients straight onto your inserts could be beneficial in preventing your product from causing damage to your customers.

While these are things that are typically listed on the box itself, we are seeing a huge emergence of minimalistic packaging.

This often calls for very small prints of ingredients and side effects, which, let’s be honest, not many people tend to read.

Therefore, printing it straight onto your insert may just be the only way to get your customers to pay full attention!

Artwork Designs

Last but not least, using your inserts to display artwork designs allows for an enhanced unboxing experience.

Shipping your products may not necessarily call for extravagant designs on the exterior of your packaging.

Why? Because the risk of damage is high and you probably don’t want to spend your budget on printing just for it to be ruined by the time it gets to your customer.

Not only does printing on your inserts save you costs, but it also allows for a more exciting experience and aesthetic for your product.

Example of Custom printed artwork design insert
Source: Pakfactory

For the most part, shipping boxes tend to come in your classic brown box. We all know it’s what’s inside that counts the most in these instances.

Having printed artwork designs is where you’re able to establish your brand narrative and create an unforgettable unboxing experience from the comfort of your customers’ homes.

This not only adds value to your brand but compliments the products inside.

Whether you go for a printed or plain insert, let’s explore the benefits of inserts below!

Benefits of Custom Inserts

Beyond adding value to your unboxing experience, inserts serve a functional purpose for your products too.

This all depends on the custom insert you choose for your product, as briefly discussed above.

Different insert materials serve different functional values. However, all inserts share a few value props.

  • Protection
  • Cost efficiency
  • Customizability
  • Communication
  • Enhanced unboxing experience


As alluded to earlier, custom inserts such as foam inserts, serve for measures of protection.

They will protect your items during the shipping and distribution process ensuring your products land in your customers lap as you intended them to.

Furthermore, inserts open doors of opportunity if you’re looking to package an experience rather than just one product.

With custom inserts you’re able to package multiple items without the worry of them moving around in your box, damaging each other.

While inserts seem insignificant to your packaging design, they may just be the saving grace that your products and customers need.

Beyond being protective, inserts serve multi functional processes that may be very beneficial to not only your products and customers but to your business too.

Cost Efficiency

Packaging inserts won’t necessarily drive your costs up drastically.

Cardboard inserts  are an extremely cost-effective option that keeps your products safe while enhancing your brand narrative, so it’s really a win-win opportunity.

Cardboard, foam and plastic inserts are not particularly heavy in weight either, allowing you to keep your shipping costs at a low and prioritize design features instead.

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

While offset printing is recommended for printing typography and information, it’s not necessary for simple art work designs!

You can opt for digital prints on your custom inserts to save even more on your packaging costs.

Keep in mind; keep your artwork designs simple with digital printing to allow for a more high quality feel.


Ultimately, packaging inserts can be whatever you need them to be.

Whether you’re looking for something straightforward and easy such as functionality and protection or to add a more high end feel to your products, customizable inserts are your answer.

Example of custom insert
Source: Behance

Inserts are made to complement and protect your products. Opting for generic inserts most probably won’t fit your products perfectly and may harm your brand reputation.

That’s why the capability of customizing your inserts is a win-win situation.

Not only will it fit and protect your products effectively, but you’re able to build beyond your packaging and create an unforgettable experience.


Your package inserts can become a 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, box inserts accomplish that.

You have a line of communication directly to your customers allowing them to align themselves and build a reputable relationship with your brand.

As a brand you’re able to further promote, build a brand narrative, establish brand credibility and much more through the use of custom inserts!

Enhanced Unboxing Experiences

When you go for the best packaging inserts, it shows customers you really care about not just the product but about the overall experience.

High-end packaging and custom inserts can ensure that the unboxing experience is a special moment.

This isn’t just useful from a customer acquisition and retention standpoint but also from a marketing perspective since it encourages customers to share the experience on social media.

We’ll now explore opportunities for marketing through your custom inserts below!

Inserts and Marketing

Creating a brand story

Well-executed packaging inserts are an incredibly useful tool for creating your brand story and creating a positive impression on your customers.

Using packaging inserts, you can reinforce logos and remind customers why they have chosen your brand through creating a well established brand narrative.

This feeds into creating an authentic brand identity that your customers can slip right into.

Creating a brand story allows for more depth to not only your business but your products too.

Example of story telling through inserts
Source: Dribbble

For instance, explaining where elements of that necklace your customer bought came from, automatically adds more value to your product.

Think of it this way; you’re more inclined to feel drawn to a piece of jewelry if it features Jade found in Guatemala, rather than salt crystals from under someone’s sink.

Promoting that the Jade came from Guatemala automatically gives your brand and products more value.

Shameless Promotion

Custom inserts are a means for promotion, so why not go all out?

You can 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.

With the right packaging inserts, you can grow your e-commerce site and continue to build on your brand.

You can also add discount codes and product samples as in your inserts to promote and cross-sell with ease.

Package inserts can be used in virtually any industry, but we’ll explore some examples in more detail.

Inserts Across Industries

Different considerations will dictate what kind of packaging insert your products will benefit from.

For example, are you shipping multiple items in a box?

What are the dimensions of each product, and how do they fit into your packaging.

The material for your packaging will also be important to ensure that the right material is being used for the box inserts.

For example, cardboard inserts are useful for cosmetics and jewelry. It provides protection and structure, making it a good choice for packaging inserts.

Foam inserts, on the other hand, are useful for larger objects and for scratch-prone products.

For example, foam inserts for toolboxes are handy in this respect and are also used to keep electronics and luxury items safe.

Ecxample of custom insert
Source: Pakfactory

For projects that need to be time and cost effective molded plastic inserts and molded pulp inserts will be a better fit.

With each of these inserts, you can also add additional custom options such as printing, finishing and coatings for an extra special touch.

Let’s explore some successful examples of how packaging inserts have been used across industries.

You’ll find that inserts are used in most packaging but here are some of our top examples.

To see what kind of brand value custom inserts bring, look no further than the ubiquitous ‘unboxing experience’ videos that influencers create.

For example, Glossier created a distinct brand identity through its unique packaging and custom inserts, seen in this unboxing video.

Although it’s not your traditional packaging insert, the bubble pouch works just as well and has become a memorable brand staple!

Your insert options are not limited to those mentioned in this post. Get creative and come up with your own custom insert options!

Additionally, luxury products can create credibility (and be memorable!) through their packaging and inserts.

Using a mixture of print and other materials, this ‘fanciest smartphone unboxing’ demonstrates how packaging and inserts come together to create an incredible experience for customers.

You can also see how cardboard inserts and print are used to keep products safe through shipping and create an exciting experience for customers.

Custom inserts don’t need to look boring for their protective qualities to kick in.

You can create beautiful packaging inserts that tell your brand story and help your brand acquire and maintain a loyal customer base.