3 ways a packaging specialist can save you money

By: Candice de Beer
Date: 8 August, 2018

Here’s why cutting costs upfront could cost you in the long run. 

With the cost of living and running a business skyrocketing companies tend to look for ways to reduce spend. Typically advertising and marketing is one of the first services to go, because it’s seen as a nice-to-have and not a necessity. In fact, many companies bring this in-house and employ junior- or fresh out of varsity designers to keep costs down.

And there’s nothing wrong with doing this. We all need to start somewhere in our careers. But beware of entrusting your packaging design to a junior designer. While the potential is there, the knowledge, experience and contacts most certainly are not! 

  • Senior vs junior designer, which to choose!

    When you’re working on a budget it’s tempting to hire junior designers to keep your overheads down. While a senior designer, in particular, an experienced packaging designer costs more upfront, they’re likely to save you money in the long run. They’re able to create kick-ass designs using expensive looking print techniques, minimal colours and printing plates. A junior designer doesn’t have the knowledge or experience to know how to do this. They’ll create something awesome, but they might use too many colours and it’ll cost more when you go to print. So, while you save initially on design expenses with each reprint you could be spending hundreds of thousands more. 


    Ready for print

    Another mistake that I’ve seen companies who use young designers encounter is their artwork is not 100% print ready. Junior designers generally don’t have the  experience needed to create finished artwork for litho, cans, bottles or flexible printing to name a few. If you get your set-up wrong, you’ll have to reprint and that’s a costly mistake. Remember, in packaging your printing costs are your biggest expense!

    Is your label compliant? Legally, it needs this.

    It goes without saying, if you use a packaging specialist they’ll be thoroughly versed in the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 or they’ll have contacts who are. The purpose of the Act is to protect buyers from being exploited, and it does this by regulating how you interact with and market your products to consumers. 

    If you use a packaging specialist they’ll quickly pick up any layout errors, statements or misleading information that could land you in hot water. And if they’re unsure, they’ll have a packaging legislation expert on speed dial. This will cost you less than outsourcing or worse choosing not to have your labelling checked. Products have been pulled from shelves for incorrect labelling and the cost of having to recall your product, correct artwork, reprint and resupply to stores could take years to recoup. It’s just not worth it.

    Here’s a brief checklist to keep on hand when creating your label. Use it to determine if your packaging is compliant. 

  • • Brand name and product description 
  • • Manufacturer name and physical address
  • • Where it is produced
  • • List of ingredients
  • • Net weight, and number or volume of contents in metric units 
  • • Special storage instructions 
  • • Best before marking
  • • Nutritional information –a table that has been checked and is lab accredited 
  • • Ensure statements and claims are not misleading or deceiving

  • Keep in mind that all items listed above have specific sizes and placements that your packaging designer will ensure comply with legislation. It’s also important to remember that depending on your type of packaging you might need to comply with other laws such as:

  • • The Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act 54 of 1972, and the Regulations Relating to Foodstuffs for Infants and Young Children R991
  • • The Agricultural Products and Standards Act
  • • The Liquor Act and Liquor Products Act, and
  • • The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).

Quality comes at a price

To recap, a packaging specialist costs more upfront, but their knowledge, experience and contacts are well worth the spend. If you really can’t afford to hire a packaging specialist to conceptualise and execute your product designs, consider hiring them to consult on the work produced. They can guide your designers, check that the work produced is print ready, and refer you to an expert on packaging legislation if need be.

Storm Wiggett is a packaging design specialist. She's worked on big brands such as Vida e Caffé, Wellness Warehouse, Cape Cookies, and Scooters Pizza to name a few. For more information or to set up a consult, contact