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So, you’ve got a product ready to take the world by storm, but it needs a safe haven to journey from your production line to the eager hands of your customers. Packaging plays a multifaceted role beyond just being a pretty box. It’s the marketing maestro and even the sustainability ambassador, all rolled into one. But with many options available, choosing the right packaging material can feel like steering a maze. 

The Packaging Pentagram and Take the Key Considerations

Before diving into the material specifics, let’s set the guiding principles for your packaging selection. Think of it with five key points to consider:


This is the fundamental function. Can the packaging material withstand the hardships of shipping, handling, and storage? Can you be sure that your product arrives in perfect condition?


With environmental consciousness at an all-time high, eco-friendly materials like recycled paper or compostable bioplastics can elevate your brand image and align with consumer values.

Marketing Appeal: 

Your packaging is everything for your brand. Consider how the material, colours, and design can grab your customers’ attention. Can it communicate your brand identity and entice your customers?


Does the packaging open easily? Does it offer features like resealability or portion control? Can you customise the functionality to your product and target audience?


Packaging plays a significant role in your overall production cost. Striking a balance between affordability and the desired qualities is crucial.

The Stars Of The Packaging Show

Now, let’s talk about the packaging materials while focusing on the paper-based options you mentioned:


The sturdy cardboard (also known as paperboard) is popular for its strength, versatility, and affordability. It comes in various thicknesses and can be laminated, coated, or printed for enhanced aesthetics and functionality. Look at the examples of cereal boxes, shoeboxes, and even intricate display stands. Remember, the heavier the product, the thicker the cardboard you’ll need.

Kraft Paper: 

This unbleached, natural-brown paper exudes an earthy, eco-friendly vibe. Its inherent strength makes it suitable for mailing envelopes, food packaging (bakery bags and coffee pouches), and crafting projects. Major brands like Coca-Cola have embraced Kraft paper for limited-edition packaging, capitalising on its sustainable appeal.


Thicker and more rigid than paper, cardstock offers excellent printability and is perfect for creating custom boxes, product inserts, and marketing materials. Examples are greeting cards, business cards, and even high-end product packaging. Its smooth surface allows for vibrant colours and detailed designs that make it a marketer’s delight.

Paper Stock: 

This broad term encompasses various paper types, ranging from lightweight tissue paper for delicate items to thicker cover stock for books and magazines. The key is to choose the paper weight and finish that best suits your needs. For example, a bakery might use greaseproof paper stock for pastries, while a clothing brand might opt for textured paper stock for garment tags.

The packaging world is constantly evolving, driven by innovation and consumer preferences. Here are some noteworthy trends to keep an eye on:

Minimalist Design: 

Clean lines, muted colours, and a focus on functionality are increasingly popular. Apple’s sleek packaging or the simple cardboard boxes used by minimalist clothing brands are popular examples of this.

Interactive Packaging: 

QR codes, augmented reality experiences, and even self-assembling boxes are adding a playful and engaging element to the unboxing experience. You can see the chocolate boxes with hidden messages or toy packaging that transforms into playsets.


Consumers crave unique experiences. Consider customised packaging options with names, messages, or even product recommendations that can be printed directly on the material.

Brands that are Sustainability Champions:


This outdoor apparel giant is renowned for its “Built to Last” philosophy, which extends to sustainable packaging. They use recycled materials extensively, offer repair services to extend product life, and even encourage customers to buy used gear. Their commitment to minimising environmental impact resonates with their eco-conscious customer base.


This consumer goods giant has set ambitious sustainability goals, including making all their packaging reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025. They’ve already made significant progress, using recycled paperboard for brands like Ben & Jerry’s and switching to compostable tea bags for Lipton. This aligns with their mission to be a responsible business and cater to consumers increasingly concerned about environmental issues.

The Body Shop: 

Known for its natural and ethical products, The Body Shop prioritises sustainable packaging. They use recycled plastic and aluminium wherever possible, offer refill options for many products, and even accept empty containers for recycling in their stores. This reflects their core values of environmental responsibility and transparency, attracting customers who share them.

Motivations for Going Green:

These brands choose sustainable packaging for several reasons:

Meeting Consumer Demand: Consumers increasingly demand eco-friendly options, and brands that fail to adapt risk losing market share. By offering sustainable packaging, brands demonstrate their commitment to environmental responsibility and attract environmentally conscious customers.

Cost Savings: While sustainable materials might have a slightly higher upfront cost, they can offer long-term savings in waste disposal fees and potentially attract premium pricing from eco-conscious consumers.

Brand Image: Sustainable packaging helps build a positive brand image, associating the brand with environmental responsibility and ethical practices. This can increase customer loyalty and attract new customers who share those values.

Regulatory Compliance: As regulations around plastic waste and packaging disposal become stricter, adopting sustainable practices helps brands stay ahead of the curve and avoid potential legal issues.

Remember, sustainability is not just a trend; it’s a growing expectation. By choosing eco-friendly packaging materials and showcasing their commitment to the environment, brands can win over consumers, build brand loyalty, and future-proof their business.

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