14 July 2022

Quality Not Quantity: Packaging In A Recession


When it comes to your brand’s budget we understand that every company is different. But how do you get high quality packaging on a budget that doesn’t affect the overall quality? As we’ve said before, don’t scrimp on your packaging…but that doesn’t mean you have to bankrupt your company in the process. Here are the main issues and how to solve them when your business is hit by a recession and in the black.


What is a recession? 

A recession is a significant, widespread and prolonged contraction in economic activity. It is often commonly defined as two successive quarterly declines in GDP.


Do The Materials You Choose Even Matter?

When it comes to materials, there are of course different levels of quality, and prices change as availability increases or decreases with suppliers – all of which will be impacted by a recession. With sustainable materials there is a chance these will be more expensive and might give your company a lower bottom line, (see this blog post for more information on how sustainable materials might affect your company) until you see returns that are the consequence of a change in your consumer base. This can mean making cuts within your packaging department or other areas of your business to compensate. Not a move any company wants to make! 


The materials you choose for your packaging are the silent salesman when it comes to how customers perceive your brand. Your choice of ink base and the graphics which you put onto the physical package are another aspect of the consumer psychology behind packaging, but we’re focusing on structure here, (if you want to read more about the impact which graphic design has on your customers check out this blog post). The materials which your company chooses show whether you are a luxury brand, a minimalist brand, a sustainable brand, or a bargain brand. There are no ‘wrong’ materials, but there are ‘right’ materials for your brand – depending on what you stand for, what your goals are and who your target audience is. In a recession you may see a dip in sales depending on what your product is, if you’re facing a supply and demand problem with rising costs, the best thing to do is check in with your brand. What are you selling, why are you selling it and where does the packaging fit within these? With 63% of consumers more likely to make a purchase because of the packaging rather than the product, it’s important to understand how you can help your sales increase by harnessing the power of materials that reflect your brand accurately.


Behind The Pricetag

So what is factored into the price of the material you choose?

  • Sourcing the material

Everything has to come from somewhere – and the origins of the material you choose will affect the price tag. Who you use as a supplier, where in the world you’re getting the material from compared to where your chosen processing facility is. Prices will also be different depending on how the material is harvested and what type of labor the supplier employs. The more sustainable the material, the higher the price will be – that’s where your brand has to decide on what’s most important to it.

  • Transportation 

When it comes to transportation, both distance and method are going to affect the price tag. On average US businesses spend 10.4% of their annual revenue on transportation of goods alone. The further away your production facility is to where you have harvested the material, the higher the price of transportation will be. Difficult quantities, gas prices and weather/road conditions also hike up the price – as well as which method of transportation you choose and the part of the world you are sourcing your materials from.

Within transportation the costs include:

  • Line haul
  • Pickup delivery
  • Terminal handling
  • Billing and collecting


  • Labor

Ethical labor is more expensive than labor which isn’t aligned with international labor regulations or human rights laws. While the issue is still a difficult one with lots of politics involved, the suppliers you use should disclose the conditions of their workers and you should be able to access records if you have any doubts. The decision of the labor you hire is a decision that comes down to the ethics of your brand and what your priorities are.

Pricing fluctuates when natural disasters, pandemics, wars and humanitarian issues mean that materials are harder to source, harvest or transport. These issues are usually out of the control of the sector and rely entirely on the luck of the draw.



Sustainable materials are more expensive because they require more time to grow, harvest and ethically produce. Their production guidelines usually follow ethical practices and international labor laws which means that labor prices are higher than those stereotypically used for materials such as plastic or metals. For example fast fashion is less expensive than slow fashion because the materials are grown in bulk without care of the environment, sourced with cheap labor and made from quickly grown or synthetic materials. Sustainable packaging is more expensive than plastic packaging because it is grown from slow-grow materials such as bamboo, or created from recycled materials which have a lengthy production process. The way to help mediate the prices for sustainable materials is to incorporate what many companies are trying to do – which is to mix plastics with sustainable materials.


Where To Make The Cuts

If you’re looking for places to cut costs, the best ones are in transport. Choose shipping freight by sea, (also lower carbon emissions) and less pricey material alternatives. For example if you’re wanting to use recycled materials to cut down on consumption and waste try to use aluminum or PET plastic. A packaging services company will be able to help you ensure that you get the best quality for your packaging while staying within your budget. Be aware that a dip in the economy can mean higher prices, longer lead times and difficulty in getting the materials you need. 


If you would like help with how to make product packaging within a budget that suits your brand, get in touch with the team at BPAK today. Start a packaging journey that doesn’t compromise on quality.