What to Include in Subscription Box Packaging

What to Include in Subscription Box Packaging

It may seem like a trend that peaked quickly before falling off the map, but subscription boxes are still relevant as ever. When it comes to their enduring popularity, packaging makes all the difference.

During the pandemic, consumer demand for a monthly box of goodies—whether meal kits, clothing, or groceries—has continued to grow. But we’ve also seen subscription box trends shift over time. Some leading subscription box sites are trending out, while other companies spanning a broad category of product offerings are expanding.

It’s safe to say that people still want subscription boxes but aren’t necessarily loyal to just one brand. In today’s saturated online market, consumers have high standards and expect a unique retail experience of personalized, curated, and surprise products. With the right packaging, your subscription box could be the next industry leader.

Are Subscription Boxes Still Popular?

The short answer is: yes.

From 2014 to 2018, the subscription box industry grew 890%. This dramatic increase has slowed in recent years, but subscription boxes are still significant as ever. In 2020, nearly 70% of US consumers maintained several subscription boxes from different companies per month.[1][2]

The statistics have changed in terms of both popularity and the products consumers are buying. The future of pandemic-related trends is yet to be seen, but we do know that buyers who have a great experience with their subscription box tend to remain loyal to that brand.

Emerging trends over recent years include boxes in the categories of home improvement, gardening, games, electronics, children (toys, craft kids, baking items), pet care, and sustainable living (local produce, reusable bags, and other products that emphasize personal and environmental wellbeing).

Because of the pandemic, the subscription box market has exploded and remains highly saturated. This means that your packaging and branding must stand out among the crowd to reach customers and gain their loyalty.

Why is Subscription Box Packaging Important?

Who doesn’t love finding a package outside their door when they get home at the end of the day? Like children on Christmas morning, everyone is thrilled by the anticipation of an unboxing experience.

The average box subscriber has seven active subscriptions—and more on their wish list. Even so, roughly 40% of customers end up canceling their subscriptions at some point.[3] With so many new offerings and shifts in which products are available, a commitment to high-quality packaging is crucial to your success.

The price point is always a consumer consideration, but customers aren’t just looking for the best deal. Most subscription box customers are younger millennials with a household income of more than $100,000. With a certain amount of disposable income, buyers want high-quality products and a company that pulls out all the stops with their packaging. Research shows that consumers are most likely to discontinue a subscription because they are dissatisfied with the overall experience—packaging included.[4]

With this data in mind, it’s essential to create a subscription box experience that evokes joy and excitement. The packaging itself matters just as much as the product inside.

Six Custom Subscription Box Packaging Ideas

The unboxing experience is so meaningful to consumers that videos of people opening packages are a viral phenomenon. Here are six ways you can create an unforgettable unboxing experience for your subscription box customers:

Use sustainable materials

According to recent studies of 15,000 consumers in North and South America, 67% placed significant importance on buying products that come in recycled packaging. Of consumers 44 years and younger, 83% are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging.

This focus on sustainability is even more relevant with subscription box packaging. Whenever possible, use plastic-free and environmentally friendly materials, such as paper and cardboard packaging, PET substrates instead of plastic, and compostable mailers.

RELATED CONTENT: Plastic Free Packaging: How to Sustainably Package Your Products

Use inserts that change with your products

When inserts are relevant and used appropriately, they can be a fantastic way to create brand loyalty and wow your customers. For example, you might include details on an upcoming sale or new products, or an elegantly designed info card on the product or your company. Inserts are much more likely to be noticed—and are therefore much more effective—than an email blast.

Include freebies

Everyone loves a bonus like a coupon, free sample, or gift inside their box. Be sure to add something of value that will truly delight your customers based on their current orders. The goal should be to display care and intention with freebies, not just generic items that your buyer won’t use.

Make packaging social media-worthy

Since the unboxing experience has become a social media trend, your unique subscription box packaging could serve as a powerful marketing tool. When choosing packaging, consider which details would thrive on social media. The key here is aesthetics and visual stimuli, creativity and uniqueness, and an unboxing experience that tells your brand’s story. Research shows that attractive packaging stimulates the brain's reward areas, which are associated with impulse purchasing.[5] Make sure your packaging inspires people to buy your product!

Customize packaging design with branding

Branded boxes are far more enticing than plain cardboard boxes. Customers should recognize your brand immediately from the packaging alone. Instant recognition creates a lasting emotional connection that will hopefully inspire brand loyalty for months or years to come.

There are many ways to customize subscription box packaging, such as adding your company logo to the box, or incorporating a pattern, slogan, or elegant design.

Encourage feedback with each box and adjust accordingly

Research shows that 79% of consumers emphasize brands that show they “understand and care” about their needs and preferences.[6]

Gathering feedback and allowing it to inform your subscription box packaging can make a big difference in customer loyalty. Online strategies like social media polls and surveys sent in your newsletter can work, but old-school methods might be more effective. For example, you might include an addressed and stamped postcard inside the box with a handful of questions for a customer to answer, along with a note of gratitude.

Final Thoughts

Subscription boxes are growing in popularity, and the online market has never been so saturated. By ensuring your packaging and unboxing experience is exceptional, you could position yourself as a leader in your industry, growing a loyal customer base that is consistently surprised and delighted with your product.

If you’re overwhelmed by the myriad of packaging designs and branding choices available to you, reach out to a packaging provider for help curating custom designs that will be most relevant to your buyers.

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[2] https://noissue.co/blog/blog-subscription-box-packaging-guide/

[3] https://www.inc.com/christina-desmarais/heres-data-showing-the-crazy-growth-of-subscription-box-services-infographic.html

[4] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/technology-media-and-telecommunications/our-insights/thinking-inside-the-subscription-box-new-research-on-ecommerce-consumers

[5] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/mar.20651

[6] https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/wunderman-study-reveals-79-of-consumers-only-buy-from-brands-that-prove-they-care-about-earning-their-business-300386618.html