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The ABCs of Product Packaging: Part One

Last updated: August-19,2019

The ABCs of Supplement Packaging: Part One

When you’re developing a product, a lot of details need to be accounted for, to make things pop and to make your product win in a highly competitive market. Will it taste good? Can we get the per-bottle cost low enough? How difficult would it be to get it certified organic?

It can be overwhelming. When all is said and done, you often have to juggle so many balls that it’s quite easy, even forgivable, to have a few things slip between the cracks. In my experience, one of the details that frequently falls outside the entrepreneur’s gaze is packaging.

Consider the following to help you understand how supplement packaging can impact your carefully conceived product:

  • determines your product’s curb appeal
  • determines how your product can be used
  • affects final product stability
  • can significantly change your product’s final cost

It’s not uncommon for first-time entrepreneurs to assume that their choice of supplement packaging is not important enough to impact the final outcome of their business, but to make that assumption is to make a mistake. Packaging has the ability to make or break your product.

With that said, let’s preview the nutritional supplement packaging landscape and compare benefits for the most popular options.

The Standard: The White HDPE Plastic Bottle

HDPE Packaging

If you make no specifications about packaging, your manufacturer is probably going to use a white HDPE plastic bottle.

What are HDPE plastic bottles?

For many products this is a fine choice as HDPE bottles are inexpensive, recyclable, and come in just about every size imaginable. For capsules, tablets, or powders they’re a simple and cost-effective supplement packaging solution.

Some people will argue that the biggest drawback to HDPE bottles is directly linked to why they’re useful: Since it is inexpensive, everyone’s already using them. To argue this is to do a disservice to the HDPE bottle, which happens to be one of the best canvases for custom shrink sleeve labels. When working with an experienced dietary supplement label designer, the possibilities for creating eye-catching supplement packaging shrink sleeve labels are almost endless.

For those looking for a great design and packaging solution that isn’t weighed down by high costs or product minimums, the HDPE bottle and shrink sleeve combo is a great choice.

Stick Packs & Sachets

Sachet for Supplement ProductPortability is a powerful way to make your product stand out. Consumers are increasingly on the move, and the ability to take a product with them in their backpack or purse is often the deciding factor in what brand they buy.

What is sachet packaging?

A sachet is supplement packaging in the form of a small pouch that delivers a single serving at a time. This option allows your product to be sold either by the box or by the serving, providing attractive options (and higher pricing) that aren’t always available with bulk container solutions. Stick packs are similar, just thinner and more upright.

While there’s plenty of consumer psychology to support this type of supplement packaging, there are some significant drawbacks on the manufacturing side. Both are more labor intensive to fill, and they cost much more per serving than a traditional HDPE bottle. If you choose to go with this supplement packaging style, be prepared for at least 10,000 packet minimums (often much more) and to have higher unit costs on a per-serving basis.

Along with high costs and high order minimums, the application and printing process for stick packs and sachets requires a skilled and experienced manufacturer.

If portability is essential to the usefulness of your product, you’ll want to consider your supplement packaging in a stick pack or sachet.

Glass Jars

Glass Bottle for SupplementsThe glass jar is a boutique supplement packaging option, and often an attractive one, for someone who wants to add a little bit of prestige feel (and higher price) to their product. They’re very sturdy, have a unique aesthetic, and avoid some of the negative mood affiliations people have with plastic supplement packaging.

Research concerning the nature of plastics and their derivatives has left some consumers with a preference for non-plastic containers, regardless of what additional research there may be concerning the safety and efficacy of HDPE bottles and other plastic-based packaging options.

Despite the boutique feel, the light-blocking abilities of amber bottles (a benefit which the clear variety, sadly, cannot offer for photosensitive ingredients), and the other aesthetic benefits of glass bottles, there are some production drawbacks worth considering.

Along with almost never being included in a manufacture’s list of supplement packaging options (which means a notably higher initial cost), they’re notoriously difficult to package and ship without breaking. This usually results in extra measures that manifest themselves as high shipping costs.

Resealable Pouches

Resealable Pouch for Supplements

Resealable pouches for supplement packaging are growingly popular, thanks largely in part to their unique look, flexible feel, and cost effectiveness. Typically, to open and close them you’ll have the choice of a zipper or spout. Zippers are best for powders while spouts are best for liquids.

Pouches can be an awkward fit for some blending machines, so you’ll want to make sure they’re an appropriate choice for your manufacturer. With pouches you have the option of printing your artwork directly on the bag, but these require special machines and an experienced printer that will typically have order minimums of 5,000-10,000 bags (which you’ll need to get finished beforeyou send them to your manufacturer). With average lead times of 4-6 weeks, you’ll have to plan accordingly.

Blister Packs

Blister Packs for Supplements

Blister packs are a smart supplement packaging idea for supplements that are in pill form making it easy to pack and transfer them safely. Air tight to prevent the growth of any kind of microorganisms this type of supplement packaging option provides complete visibility, offers high durability, making it ideal for storing.

Which Supplement Packaging Option is Best for You?

Like most things in business, it depends on the type of product, your brand and most importantly, the cost factor.

But to give yourself a good guide for choosing the best fit, you should ask yourself the following three questions:

  • Where will my product be sold?If it’s in a retail location then you should be prepared to spend extra on supplement packaging to make it stand out on the shelf.
  • Will you make sustainability a selling point?If your product is going to be organic, gluten-free, or anything else with a “clean” connotation then glass jars or resealable pouches (especially paper ones) may be worth considering.
  • How and when will it be used?Will your customers be using these products on the go or taking them at home? Depending on your answer, you may want to consider spending more for an option that provides greater portability.

There are plenty of supplement packaging options out there. And while it’s not always the right business decision to invest a lot of your organizational resources into packaging that’s beyond the status quo, it’s important to understand how the packaging decisions you do make can affect your products’ long-term growth and success.

April 11th, 2016

About the Author:

Jonathan Bechtel

Jonathan Bechtel has been the owner of Health Kismet, a nutrition company that manufactures and markets nutrient powders to aid digestion, cognition, and mood support since 2011. He studied nutritional biochemistry at The Ohio State University and loves basketball, the Pacific NW, and every aspect of the natural product industry.