Vinyl Packaging Revamped for 2016

While my parents don't admit to being hippies, their record collection tells another story.  My youth is peppered with memories set to music, not unlike an episode of "The Wonder Years." I remember running my fingers over vinyl packaging, picking out albums with intriguing album art (The Who's "Tommy" stands out in my mind) or Cream's "Wheel of Fire." I loved the velvet tones of vinyl, and the way the sound seems to fill a space. At some point, the needle on the turntable broke and didn't get replaced. We got a CD player, the records were boxed up and piled in a closet, and the beat went on. 

Since then, music has changed form a few more times. First from CDs to MP3 players like the iPod, and then to streaming with early adopters on Pandora, but now we've entered into an interesting era. In 2016, every sales channel music is slumping except for two: streaming (up 50%) and vinyl (up 11%). I don't think this is a coincidence. There's no ownership associated with streaming. Listeners can quickly sample songs and artists--literally millions of both--for either no fee or a nominal one. When listeners connect with an artist deeply, they want to invest in an experience. That's where vinyl trumps CDs, iTunes, any other form of listening experience. 

Naturally, I know I might be a little biased given my childhood love for vinyl. But there's a tangible experience that comes with holding vinyl packaging and dropping that needle, and I think there's a kind of craving for that kind of close-up sentimentality. Of course, there's more to it than that, and TuneCore has a few more ideas as to why vinyl and vinyl packaging is making a resurgence. 

Vinyl Packaging

Vinyl Packaging as a Form of Art

Whether your shelve it or frame it, album art has the potential to be iconic. Just look at The Beatles' "Sergeant Pepper" album cover. And in 2016, it's risen beyond just the album cover to origami and custom box level.

Vinyl is Tangible

I love Spotify, but here's the thing: you can't leave MP3s or Spotify playlists to your kids, or frame your favorites to put on the wall. You can't have your favorite artists sign the album like vinyl packaging. Digital has a lot of positives, but also a lot of tradeoffs.

Vinyl Goes Mobile

The majority of records purchased today also include a download code so users not only have their gorgeous album, but can also download the tunes to their mobile devices or computers for listening. Amazon is an early pioneer in providing the MP3s along with vinyl purchases.

Vinyl Sounds Off

Vinyl packaging is superior, there's no loss in mobility, so how can it get better for vinyl fans? It usually comes down to the strongest argument...sound quality:

Sound is a range of frequencies. When there is a complete presentation of frequencies that diminishes as the frequency increases, the sound seems to be more complete. Vinyl tends to present the widest range of frequencies due to its analog-to-analog production process. Digital music, because of its compression to keep file sizes manageable, doesn’t present as much of a continual range

When people make this argument, it's a passionate, emotional one.  And it's one echoed by an entire community of people who keep vinyl alive through patronizing smaller shops and hunting through garage sales as well as shopping online. Don McLean may have thought the music died, but it's alive and well decades later. 

Upgrade Your Box

turned edge hinge box

What do you think of when you think of box packaging? A plain cube? 6 equal sides? A brown cardboard brick? Seems uninspired. But there’s so much more. So let’s talk about a…

Packaging Upgrade

 

If you’ve looked through our gallery then, spoiler alert, you know we’ve already thrown the idea of a ‘boring box’ out the window. The days of basic are over when it comes to retail and promotional packaging. A box needs to be salesperson, showcasing a product or organization when nobody else can. Let’s go over a few packaging upgrades that can give a box a standout presence.

Magnets

The slickest, coolest, most secure upgrade, magnets make the difference. Whether you opt for hidden magnetic tabs that snap lids shut with invisible power, or an ornate clasp straight from a castle gate, this element adds a sophistication that is the difference between post-consumer waste and reusable heirloom.

Handles

Not only does a handle turn a box into a stylish makeshift briefcase, it also adds a lot of functionality. A presentation kit that can be transported easier, is something worth keeping around. Something memorable. A custom handle box shows that you care about the end-user.

Windows

You’ve heard that eyes are the window to the soul, right? Well, flip it back on them! Put a window on your custom box for some all-around product transparency. Perhaps a stylish opening to show off a textured material, a clear plastic that offers a glimpse, or a thermoformed blister for including a sample.

Foil Stamping

Shiny! Embossing your logo into a rigid setup box already adds some dimension, but why not go all in on a foil stamp. This little upgrade adds a metallic sheen to your impression. Used tastefully, it’s the perfect complement and carries that look of richness.

Textures

The breakthroughs in textured wraps for packaging will blow you away. From suede to snakeskin, your box can tap into that tactile appeal that makes or breaks products in the marketplace. If you have a box that can’t be put down, that’s half the battle right there.

Pockets

An oldie-but-goodie. Pockets are awesome. Functional. A little sleeve for a business card, or an industrial pocket for literature and instructions. These hidden accessories set projects apart, bringing your clients back for more. Pro tip: sleeves are cool, but if you need to include a compact disc, consider adding adhesive disc hubs to turn a binder or box into an instant DVD case.

Foam

Stop thinking bubble bath, are start thinking contoured support. Die-cut foam inserts inside your custom marketing kit are the pinnacle of professionalism. Clean, crisp, and cut to the exact specifications of your product, a foam insert not only stores securely, it displays elegantly.

Tech (of the Future)

As electronics become more and more inconspicuous, the easier they can be added to custom packaging products. RFID tags embedded in a box can either be used for instant package tracking, or give your clients an almost magical link to your website (think: reordering) or social media account (think: likes!). The day is fast approaching that super thin video screens could allow you to present that Super Bowl-quality commercial upon opening.


 

These are just a few of the packaging upgrades available through Sunrise Packaging. Request a Quote for a quick and easy one-on-one with our experts! The only thing between you and getting noticed is a mouse click!

Wrap Rage is a Thing

VaporTrail-225It’s pretty common knowledge that thermoformed packaging is tough to open. Especially if the edges are factory sealed, or there aren’t easy-to-understand opening instructions. I thought it was just one of those things. You know, like ‘dogs chase cars’ or ‘bees sting.’ But now I know it’s not just a thing, it’s a Thing.

Wikipedia defines Wrap Rage as “the common name for heightened levels of anger and frustration resulting from the inability to open hard-to-open packaging.” It’s further defined as any packaging that claims to be easy-open but is, in actuality, nearly impossible. Such was the case of a vacuum-packed sausage for columnist Lori Borgman. She had to go through two sets of shears to get at her dinner.

Speaking of shears, products are even banking on wrap rage for their marketing plan. A cursory examination of one wrapragecure.com will eventually reveal itself as an advertisement for a product called the Open It™, a fancy-schmancy scissors for opening blister packaging. However, the irony is not lost on me that the Open It™ itself is encased in one of the tightest thermoformed plastic bubbles I’ve ever seen. A chicken-or-the-egg scenario if I ever saw one.

Open It_the wrap rage cure

Image: Bed Bath and Beyond

But even Borgman, sausage sufferer extraordinaire, admits that blister packaging is a necessary evil. Why? Because it’s still one of the top theft deterrents on the market. Or rather, in it. Blister packs and retail go together like peanut butter and jelly. Gold standard. As much as we may dread the eternal struggle that comes from purchasing a blister-packed product, we know that the reason the product was even there to purchase is because that plastic bubble protected it.

Products in stores aren’t supposed to be easy to open! Hello! It’s a sad fact that folks will steal anything not nailed down. I knew someone back in high school that stole display frames from eyeglass stores. For Display Only printed on the plastic lenses and all! But much the way animals know to avoid electrified fences, we humans know not to bother with stealing blister packaged items. The battle too exhausting, the sound too loud, and the risk too great. Therein lay the beauty of custom blister packaging.

Not too mention the reasonably low cost of thermoformed plastic packages means that virtually any product can enjoy the protection. Because people steal low ticket items too, let’s be honest.

So even though wrap rage is a thing, we all accept it. And there are options to making even hard-to-open packaging into easy-open. (Clear instructions being a biggie.) So next time you nick your thumb trying to open that pair of headphones, replace that expletive with a hearty Thanks, Blister Packaging! You’re just doing your job! I get it!

The Most Famous Piece of Corrugated Cardboard Ever

A portion of the star wars early bird certificate, maybe the most famous piece of corrugated cardboard in the history of retail


The year is 1977. Fleetwood Mac is blasting through the speakers of Trans Ams everywhere, Star Wars takes the box office by storm, and the Kenner toy company is sitting on the golden egg of a lifetime–and they almost crushed it. Here’s the true story of how a piece of corrugated cardboard changed the face of marketing history.


 

May the Corrugated Cardboard Be With You

 

Months earlier in 1976, The Kenner toy company caught a seemingly lucky break. A small subsidiary of General Mills, Kenner’s usual fare was squirt guns and bubbles. But a major toy company, Mego, had passed on the Star Wars license to produce toys. Kenner, the Little Toy Company That Could, managed to acquire it.

 

Huge mistake for Mego. Potential mistake for Kenner.

 

Why? Just because Kenner picked up the license didn’t mean they believed in Star Wars. It seems impossible now, but the original Star Wars movie could barely get off the runway back in the day.

 

But once it did, it exploded.

 

The late May blockbuster left Kenner scrambling to produce Star Wars toys in time for the holiday season. Even by today’s standards, that’s a tough deadline. At some point, the small company realized they couldn’t meet the demand by Christmas. But did they give up? Not a chance. Instead they turned to a piece of customized corrugated cardboard into a legend.

 

The Star Wars Early Bird Certificate Was Born.

custom corrugated cardboard packaging used in the marketing of popular star wars toys

A member of the Kenner team had an idea. Instead of letting the ball drop, they created a corrugated cardboard box. Most likely an E-Flute wall structure–the standard in luxury display packaging–Kenner’s Early Bird Certificate doubled as a display stand. The idea was that kids could mail in the certificate and, when the toys were ready, Kenner would send out the first wave of toys, packaged in a thermoformed plastic tray. Then, when the package came, kids would have a spot ready to display them.

 

And they sold it.

 

Hero Complex’s Jay West calls it the “the most coveted empty box in the history of retail.” To think that anything could replace an action figure under the tree in a child’s eyes seems unlikely, let alone a hunk of corrugated cardboard. But it did. In fact, the anticipation of staring at the placeholder while waiting for the figurines to arrive made the prize even sweeter. Exclusive mail-away action figures would be the cornerstone of the Star Wars toys for the next 30 years.

 

Maybe Kenner’s whole plan wouldn’t fly today. But there’s a lot of takeaways from this story. Not giving up? Of course. Taking chances? Sure. But, above all, it shows the creativity stored in that “coveted empty box.” That’s the power of corrugated cardboard. It’s durable, environmental, economical, and endlessly engineerable. Just a simple piece of cardboard changed the face of product licensing forever. Think what it could change next.

 

You might be wondering what parents paid for that precious corrugated cardboard back in the day. $7.99. But what are folks willing to spend on it today?

the infamous customized corrugated cardboard on ebay, glossy laminate

 


 

Combination: Turned Edge Blister Packaging

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This is a turned edge product that carefully and strategically utilizes custom thermoformed blister packaging in order to create a unique and comprehensive packaging solution. An informative piece that covers the benefits and uses of crops from Minnesota Grain in Eagan, this packaging solution is not only a great marketing piece, but it provides the recipient with real time samples of each item in order to recognize and truly learn about what they have to offer. They say in order to make money you have to spend money, and in this case, Minnesota Grain has done that by making a solid investment in educating their clientele and potential buyers. The thermoformed plastic acts as a blister with the turned edge flat, making it possible to show a variety of grain samples. The placement of each blister is in line with the accompanying descriptive text. As both a turned edge manufacturer and custom thermoformer, we love projects like this that use our strengths!

Blisters vs. Clamshells

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Popular packaging solutions such as clamshells and blisters are the product of thermoforming. You see them all around you in retail stores. Many think that clamshells and blisters are the same thing but they’re different. Lets investigate:Clamshells:

Most commonly used in retail products. Clamshells have hinges that allows them to open like a clamshell. A clamshell package with a single hinge usually includes a hanger tab so it can be hung on a store peg. Some clamshells have multiple hinges which gives them a flat base and allows them to be stood upright on a shelf. Retail products can be showcased very well in clamshell packaging. The clarity and visibility allows consumers to get a full view of the product. Clamshells can also be customized and thermoformed to take on any shape and hold a multitude of products.

Blisters:

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Blister packaging is also commonly used in retail packaging specifically for small consumer goods, food, and pharmaceuticals. The main difference between a blister and a clamshell is that a blister doesn’t have a hinge. It it still made from thermoformed plastic. Blisters, in a lot of applications, are attached to a paperboard card where the blister mold holds the product in place. Blisters are also great for showcasing products because their clarity leads to great visibility.

Blister Packs and Clamshells Everywhere!

 

Start Seeing Blister Packs

When you go into just about any department store or pharmacy, you can often find a wall or two–and an aisle or three–that are covered wall-to-wall in product merchandise. Product, product everywhere, encased in individual blister packs or plastic clamshells. Why? For starters, blister packs are a simple solution to both protecting and displaying retail merchandise. A retail ready solution that has withstood the test of time.


Theft-Deterrent and Marketing Strategy in One

thermoformed plastic blister packs for electronics retailThe most common types of packaging are made of thermoformed thin-gauge plastic. This particular gauge is used for packaging cosmetics, electronics, as well as items vital to the pharmaceutical industry. The main benefits of this packaging category prove the value of blister backs. Thermoformed packaging is tamper-evident–and often tamper proof! This is a great deterrent of theft, and makes for a highly-noticeable attempt. The clear plastic packaging gives the consumer the opportunity to actually see the product in its entirety. A product a consumer can see is a product that they will believe. Finally, high volume markets–such as with electronics–require speedy manufacturing and fulfillment to keep up with consumer demand. Blister Packs and clamshells are a fairly standard design, decreasing the turnaround time on orders


 

A Time-Honored Process

With in-line thermoforming processes, packaging manufacturers are able to produce both blister pack cavities and full two-sided clamshells in an efficient and streamlined way. Roll-fed into the thermoformer, thin gauge plastic travels through an aluminum mold that, when applied with heat and a vacuum, will conform the material to that exact shape and size.

Thermoforming is an old process, only fairly changed since its inception, but it is a proven solution for churning out reliable, protective retail packaging.

Learn More about Blister Packaging

Why Thin Gauge Plastic?

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The majority of the thermoformed packaging solutions that you will see are made from a thin gauge plastic material. As an inline thermoforming manufacturing company, we believe that thin gauge plastic is one of your best bets when designing and producing custom plastic packaging products. Small sized blister packaging and clamshells from Sunrise can be made with a wide variety of different thing gauge plastics that offer different benefits suited to your needs. In retail and food industries, thin gauge plastic is the most common used material. This is because of its malleability and quick forming capabilities. Most often received in material rolls, thin gauge thermoplastic can simply be setup with the inline thermoformer and automated through the process. For fast moving items in the retail world, this is beneficial to both retailer and supplier!

Plastic Trays Enhance Marketing Kits

Plastic packaging solutions come in many forms. Not all thermoformed plastic packaging needs to be a clear clamshell or custom blister pack. For example, shown here is a marketing set and retail box that we made for Besita Boutique, a high end swimwear retailer. The white plastic tray inserted in our customizable cigar-style Netbox™ matches the color scheme while providing a much needed cavity to hold a turned edge Flashpad™. Sometimes it is the small details that make a big difference in the display and presentation of a marketing kit. Custom plastic trays show forethought as well as the investment you made showing that each and every prospective client is equally important.

Custom Plastic Packaging Factors

thermoformedWhen making packaging decisions for retail products, there are a lot of factors that come into play, and many important things to consider. Custom plastic thermoformed packaging comes as no exception. In order to have an all around quality packaging solution, it needs to be protective and practical while simultaneously marketing your brand and product. Protection and practicality go hand in had for custom packaging solutions. In order for  a plastic blister pack or clamshell to properly serve its purpose, it needs to insure that the product is safe in shipping, that it is tamper proof in-store and can therefore be purchased and put to use! Simplicity is also a key component of quality packaging. Many times with plastic clamshells and blisters, shoppers find it difficult to actually access the product that they just bought! Create a design that offers protection but can also be easily opened in the household- there are a few tricks out there to open difficult plastic packaging, many of which come with a bit of risk. Finally, use packaging to your advantage by adding value to your in-store presence. You worked hard on making the packaging design, now make it work for you. Incorporate your marketing message and branding strategies when you design artwork, tooling, and more!