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It’s ALL in the packaging

Ken Gallie |

In our business we like to say “the packaging sells the product the first time, what’s inside sells the product the second time.” I’ve seen products succeed and unfortunately great new products fail, why? It’s in the key feature of packaging, it will move your product off the shelf.

Let me give you a “packaging recipe” that will help you launch your product for success.

What you need to know....

  • Who is your product market? How big is it? Is it specialized or broad?
  • Ideally, where would you like to see your product sold?
  • Do you have the contacts in your target markets?
  • Are you competing with similar products?
  • How is your product different from your competitors?
  • What things are your competitors doing well, or not so well?
  • Is your product shelf stable, or needing special handling requirements?
  • How are you going to produce your product? Are you going to have a private label company manufacture it for you? Or are you going to manufacture it yourself? If manufacturing it yourself, do you homework you will need to know about machinery, location, processes, food safety, etc.  
  • What volume targets are needed to make this product profitable?

Choosing a designer

Interview designers, look at the designs and the calibre of their accounts. Smaller firms, and independent designers, will offer you great service with a reasonable fee structure if your needs aren’t as complex. If you have a large budget for multi-media (web, TV, print) I would suggest looking for a media experienced firm.

When choosing and working with a designer, you should compile a design synopsis based on your research and ideas. Such as colours, look and feeling, and scope you would like your brand or design to reach. Be clear about what you would like them to handle. This is critical to your cost.

The designers job is to provide a “slant” on your concept, so make sure you are very clear where you would like to go, but allow the designer to pick the path and give you options. This will save both of you hours of frustration.  In conceptual design, once you see the design, you are the owner, and prices are based on an hourly rate so know what you want and avoid expensive designer changes.


I always recommend you keep your brand easy to remember, and indicative of your concept/philosophy and market. Simple is good. Complex can get confusing. Subliminal meanings to your branding will leave an lasting impression with your consumer.

Choosing a printer

Printers have specializations, look for a printer who specializes in the packaging requirements of your product.  I would recommend a one-stop-shop packaging specific company. They are immersed in all aspects of the industry, their experience will save you time and help you avoid costly mistakes. 

Key points:

  • Your designer should communicate with your printer to get the specifications needs.
  • File formats are critical, to avoid redoing art work can cost.
  • Remember volume is your biggest ally to driving packaging costs down.
  • A good rule of thumb is never load up with more than six months of packaging. Labelling regulations change, and in the case of pressure sensitive label adhesive it has a shelf life of one year. Cartons, stand-up pouches and roll stock will have a longer shelf life, but remember accounting hates carrying inventory

Launching your product

You’ve done your homework, you know your product will sell, your marketing materials are designed, your package is complete, your pricing structure is finished, you have all your costs laid out, and you just put in the purchase orders to get everything printed. Now what?


This is prime time to get your product in front of your market by any way possible. One option is the  trade show, to maximize the value, be proactive, book appointments for the day of the show, get your  potential market to your booth. This not only builds interest around your booth, but focuses you on your actual purpose for attending a show…to sell!

Getting your products out in smaller to mid-range stores is a good start. Specialty chains work very well to build your brand loyalty and sales. As you grow, connect with brokerages that cater to the larger chains, they will help get into the larger accounts. However, always be cautious if they ask for exclusivity of your product, remember your goal to is to move product. So it is not uncommon to tie a limited exclusivity to sales targets.

Finally, when your product takes off, keep promoting it! Congratulations and enjoy the ride!

Ken Gallie has been in the Packaging industry for over 30 years, with a passion for marketing he’s worked on many national product launches. As an avid foodie and car guy he can usually be found at a collector car show sampling the latest food trend. He can be reached at (604) 943-1588 or