First impressions are lasting; donít judge a book by its cover; you only get one time to make a first impression. These expressions come to mind when I think of packaging for a new product. Although some of the best soaps I have used came in the plainest box or were bought unwrapped at the farmers market, packaging is very important to the buyer.
While making and selling soap I learned a term I call shelving. That is how the product looks on the shelf in its temporary new home. Shelving is very important to the merchandiser. More often than not products are carried not because of how good they are on the inside but, how good it looks on the outside. A great deal of importance should be placed to the packaging of the product.
Packaging soap may be a little intimidating but it can be easier that you think. Part of this difficulty stems from availability of cost effective materials to package the soap; part of this also has to do with the costliness of graphic design. Everyone wants their product to shine, but may not have the cash to spend on costly packaging while others may not want to spend money on graphics they think that they could do themselves with a little practice. However, little or much effort you may exert in packaging or how little importance you give to the final presentation of your product, others do.
Aside from protecting your soap from rough handling and keeping it intact and clean, packaging serves to convey information about the product. In most countries information for the product has to be on the soap label or packaging. Different countries have different laws that dictate how a soap product is to be labeled. In the United States, a soap product making no other claim than to be a cleaning agent is to be labeled as a non-cosmetic and is regulated by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The cheapest way to wrap soap is to print directly on the paper used to wrap the soap. A nice weight paper is 20 pounds (20#) paper, but the heavier paper protects soap from being damaged but it is more expensive.
There are other types of packaging created from eco friendly material and renewable resources. Cellophane paper and plastic films which at first glance seem to be the antithesis of earth friendly packaging, are now available in biodegradable material which gets absorbed by the earth. Polylactic Acid (PLA), a corn derived polymer used to create biodegradable plastic containers and wraps that provides an option for those concerned with the post consumer waste that their products generate.
If you live in a humid environment, shrink wrapping works well. The trick is that the soap has to be dried well before it is shrink wrapped. In a humid environment shrink wrapping protects the soap from absorbing moisture from the environment. For this, tubing works well because the sides are sealed.
If you want to impart a very rustic look you may use corrugated cardboard. This material was all the rage a while back but fell out of use and was supplanted by printed cigar bands, handmade paper and soap boxes.
Handmade paper is always a nice choice as it can be both rustic and sophisticated. Fabric is another choice, especially very rustic and texturally rich kinds of natural fabrics such as cotton canvas, burlap, flour sack and open weave textures. This can be finished with a paper band or a sticker kind label.
The old staple of using boxes is great. Printing may be done directly on the box, which saves money in the long run but may be expensive initially. Or the box may be purchased, then a sticker or soap band applied.