Rigid Packaging VS Flexible Packaging: Everything You Need to Know
Although the packaging is often the part of the product that receives the least amount of attention and focus from companies, getting it right is still vital for the success of your lineup.
Packaging determines the outward appearance of your products on store shelves: it determines how eye-catching it is, how premium it looks, and ultimately, influences how much it is going to sell. Companies need to make an informed decision when deciding the packaging.
Whether you go with rigid packaging or flexible packaging is the major question you’ll face when deciding what kind of packaging to choose for your product lineup. Everything else from design, shape, and style can only be determined after you answer that question. And in this blog post, we’ll help you choose by explaining both types, their advantages, and answering some frequently asked questions.
What Is Flexible Packaging?
Flexible packaging refers to any malleable packaging: the most popular examples are bags and pouches, but tubes, seal bands, and tubes, and many more are all other examples of flexible packaging.
Thanks to advances in manufacturing, changes in consumer taste, and transformations in supply lines, flexible packaging has seen an uptick in recent years. Many companies are starting to look into it as a viable alternative to rigid packaging, and it is for good reason. Flexible packaging has plenty of very real and very impactful advantages that companies need to keep in mind before deciding. Below, we’ll go over some of the more prominent ones.
What is Rigid Packaging?
Much like flexible packaging, what rigid packaging is, is very clear from its name: it refers to boxes, containers, and packaging that is generally rigid and less malleable. Rigid packaging is usually made out of cardboard, glass, plastic, metal, etc.
Rigid packaging was and remains to be the most popular type of packaging used worldwide. Almost every sector that requires extensive use of packaging is dominated by rigid packages. While flexible packaging is seeing an uptick in use in recent years, that doesn’t mean rigid packaging is outdated – far from it. Rigid packaging still has some very real advantages that companies need to carefully consider, and we’ll go over some of them below.
The Advantages of Flexible Packaging
Flexible packaging, as its name suggests, is quite flexible by nature thanks to the materials used in its manufacturing. This gives packaging manufacturing companies more ability to customize and change it to truly fit companies’ needs. In practice, this means a few things:
- By using flexible packaging, you’ll have more control over the size and shape of the packaging. There’s more room for innovation.
- With flexible packaging, companies have more control over how they arrange their product(s) inside. This can give more options to the company.
- By using flexible packaging, companies can have more control over the embellishment. This can help make the product unique and help it stand out.
#2 Easier to Transport and Store in Bulk
Depending on the products inside, flexible packaging can allow the goods to be quite malleable, and this is important during transportation. Large, unoccupied space due to the structure of the packaging or the product is one of the primary drivers of transportation cost. Flexible packaging alleviates some of that issue and makes transport costs cheaper.
The same logic applies to warehouse storage. Since they can be more compact, products with flexible packaging generally take up less space. This brings down storage costs.
#3 Easier for Marketing
As we mentioned above, flexible packaging is more customisable, and this has one very prominent advantage: it makes marketing easier. It is less costly to embellish a company logo on a pouch. It is easier to display a brand prominently on a bag. It is far more straightforward to make a tube’s colours and design reflect a company’s. All of these act together to make marketing products with flexible packaging easier.
Flexible packaging is usually manufactured from less expensive materials when compared to rigid packaging. While the price reduction isn’t substantial for each package — when selling tens or hundreds of thousands of products, these costs quickly add up and become quite important.
If you’re worried about the cost of packaging eating into your profit margins, then you should consider flexible packaging.
The Advantages of Rigid Packaging
#1 Affords Products Better Protection
Rigid packaging has a more robust structure and form, and this affords products inside better protection. It prevents them from moving around, it lessens the brunt of direct impact, and it keeps products safe during transportation. These are the reasons why when you buy a fragile product, you can almost always observe that it has very rigid packaging.
This additional protection isn’t necessary for all kinds of products, but it is necessary for many. Companies definitely need to keep this in mind before making their final decision.
#2 Suitable for All Kinds of Products
Whether you have powdered foodstuff, liquids, tech, books, or whatever, rigid packaging can do the job properly. This doesn’t mean that rigid packaging is the best choice in every scenario, on the contrary. But it means that you can nevertheless use rigid packaging with considerable success.
The same isn’t true for flexible packaging. While it excels as packaging for a variety of products, for many others, it is quite terrible and can’t be used. You won’t see a TV with flexible packaging, neither will you see a flexible bottle of wine. Understand the limitations of flexible packaging clearly before making a decision.
#3 Safer and Healthier – Doesn’t Cause Containments
Due to its rigid and durable nature, rigid packaging doesn’t erode with time, due to sunlight, etc. This means that it is suitable for the storage of various food items, pills, etc. That’s why wine is stored in carefully-sealed glasses. It is why food is stored in rigid containers. It preserves the taste and integrity of the food.
While flexible packaging, depending on the materials used, doesn’t always degrade. Some specific types are far more likely to cause containment, however, and this makes them unsuitable for use in the packaging of food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, etc.
#4 Feels More Premium
Rigid packaging simply feels more premium when comparing it to flexible packaging. It can be due to its higher cost, its more geometric design, or its robust materials, but whatever it may be, studies and surveys show that consumers generally view products with rigid packaging as “more premium” than their counterparts with flexible packaging.
Which Type of Packaging Should You Choose for Your Products?
Choosing the right packaging for your product is a very complicated decision, and a blog post can’t decide it for you. We generally recommend asking yourself some key questions, detailing the answer quite clearly, and after that, the decision about the right packaging will be far clearer:
- How fragile is my product? If your product is really fragile, you need to go with rigid packaging with a very hard, durable exterior. There are very few other choices. If your product isn’t fragile, on the other hand, flexible packaging might very well be an option.
- Am I offering a luxury product? If you’re offering a luxury item, you can probably afford the cost of slightly more expensive packaging, especially if it also accentuates the luxurious feel of your product. In that case, rigid packaging might be the better choice here. If your product is in a very price-competitive industry, flexible packaging might be the answer.
- How important is marketing for the success of my product? As we mentioned above, it is easier to embellish flexible packaging with brands and logos. If marketing is going to be a huge part of your product’s success, you might need to go with flexible packaging.
- What kind of material is suitable for the packaging of my product? does your product need glass packaging or metal packaging? If so, then you have no other option than rigid packaging. There’s no flexible metal packaging, for example. Depending on which materials are suitable for your product’s packaging, your choices might narrow down considerably.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Rigid and Semi-rigid Packaging?
Rigid packaging is packaging with hard, non-flexible exteriors that are usually made out of cardboard, metal, glass, etc. Semi-rigid packaging, as you might’ve guessed from the name, refers to packaging that stands between flexible and rigid packaging. They’re usually made from materials like aluminium, and they combine some of the benefits of both rigid and flexible packaging.
What is Rigid Plastic?
Rigid plastics are plastics that aren’t easily broken, malleable, or flexible. Prime examples are plastic rigid containers for food. The examples of rigid plastic and its applications are limitless, and it is a material that is definitely worth paying attention to when deciding on packaging for a product.