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Is quality packaging really more expensive than cheap packaging?

By 19/11/2021No Comments

Not Always is the Correct Answer!

VS

It’s a common perception that the better quality a product is, the more it costs. This is replicated across several different industries, from Cars to furniture and right down to humble packaging. And you’ve probably heard thousands of people say that it’s not true. But is it or not?

Let’s illustrate this with cars, as mentioned above. You’re looking for a vehicle to take you to and from work every day. You have two options: on the quality side, a Volvo. And as a budget option, a Dacia. If you drive either of these, no offence is meant! I’ll keep it factual:

VolvoDacia
£30,000£12,000
ReliableBasic Materials
SmartLimited Safety

Now you probably see where this is going already, and you’re probably thinking I’ve rigged this to prove my point. But a person I met once told me, and quite happily, ‘I have a Dacia and yes, I drive a lot. If I crash I’ll probably die, but it’s cheap!’ – now I agree that that’s an extreme point, but it’s still the same trend; Is a Dacia cheap if it could kill you? Is Quality expensive if it allows you to live?

But before we digress further, let’s apply this to packaging. I’ve divided cheap packaging into four reasons why they’re cheap:

Quality vs Cost Related To Packaging. 4 Reasons Why Quality Matters.

Performance Pitfalls

There’s always a good reason for a product to be cheaper. One of these reasons is that you’re being quoted on the right performance or specification. It may be that a prospective supplier is over-specifying the product, but it’s important that you get the right performance specification for your products, and that’s much easier said than done.

I’m going to illustrate this with Strapping, purely because it’s one of the most misunderstood products out there. But first, a little explainer: To the general public, strapping is plastic, narrow and holds parcels together. However, did you know that there are nearly 10 different types of strapping that have different applications? And that within each of those 10 types, there are many (up to 25 or 30) different properties that can also affect its performance. You can read about the different types of strapping here. Maybe a strap isn’t just a strap after all!

A company once approached Eastpac to buy strapping. Their products were heavy and fragile, and our advisors duly advised the correct product. However, the company weren’t keen on the price and instead ordered a cheaper alternative from us. Critical Error; the breaking strain was lower and wasn’t able to hold their products. After losing several thousands of pounds worth of products, they decided not to buy from us again. Now that might look bad on us, but the secret to the real cause of the problems lies in the desire for a cheaper product: Cheaper doesn’t always mean better.

Performance 1
Performance 1 1
Length 1
Length 2

Length Larceny

Inferior performance is one thing but can a product be cheaper if it’s the same thing? The answer is yes if there’s less of it. Another good reason for a product to be cheap is that you’re not getting the same length, volume or quantity as you think you’re paying for. Think of how chocolate bars have shrunk over the years and the way that crisp packets are only half full nowadays. This makes perfect logistical sense; the less there is, the less it costs. But does this really happen in reality? Maybe not as deceitfully as the example I’m just about to give you, but yes, it does.

A recent win for us came from a client who uses pallet wrap. We were turned away from the opportunity to supply when our price was found to be higher than what they were paying, by about 10%. Added to this was the fact that our state roll length was shorter, 550m compared to 600m. However, an in-house pallet-wrapping test showed that our product, gripfilm, wrapped 16 pallets compared to their 10 – that’s a 60% increase! How was this possible? A factory length check showed that the 600m they thought they were buying was actually only 475m, which doesn’t even come close to industry standard tolerances! So the desire for a cheaper product actually led to them buying a shorter roll being offered as full length, which therefore increased their annual expense rather than decreasing it.

Application, or Misapplication

The issue with buying low-cost materials is that they nearly always are low-quality. And for some, that’s ok. But low quality comes with low-performance, and that’s another good reason for a product to be cheaper. By using inferior or substitute materials, a manufacturer can quite quickly reduce their raw material costs and therefore be able to offer a much more attractive price to the market. With today’s ever-increasing desire to reduce costs, using a lower grade product is readily accepted as a good way to quickly reduce operating costs.

Let’s illustrate this with parcel tapes. Acrylic tape is commonly used for packing parcels, but in reality, it was designed for sticking to plastic and wrappings and not boxes and recycled card. This often means that two or three or more strips are used per carton to stick it and stop it peeling when in reality a more ‘expensive’ tape like Stixx can seal a parcel with just one strip. So you can do the math yourself: multiply your cheap tape price by three and that’s what it’s really costing you to pack your parcels. This shows how a more expensive product like Stixx is actually competitive when the actual application and usage quantities are considered.

Length 3
Application
Quality 1
Quality 2

Quantum Quality

Sometimes, good quality can get you a cheaper product and save you money. New technology and innovations are often lumped in with all things ‘expensive’. However, this needn’t be the case. And I’m not talking about sourcing from overseas factories to get the lowest purchase price; you’d still be liable to fall into one of the traps mentioned above. In the case of Sigmawrap, a nano-technology machine film, new technology actually reduces your yearly expenditure. How? By using innovation in pallet films to produce a thinner but stronger material.

A 15micron Sigmawrap film is made from 55 nano-layers and is fully suitable to replace standard 23micron film. This gives you more film per roll, as pallet film rolls are sold by weight, and means that your cost per metre or cost per pallet wrapped is lower. In addition, Sigmawrap is capable of being stretched 400% compared to the current industry maximum of 300%. This serves to reduce your cost per pallet even further without compromising integrity. A recent client realised they could buy a new machine and pay it off in just 5 weeks by switching to Sigmawrap!

Packaging Quality vs Packaging Cost: A Conclusion

So we can conclusively state that quality packaging is NOT more expensive than cheap materials. If anything, quality materials are on par with or lower cost than today’s standard industrial packaging products. Think it over:

  • Is the performance specification lower? If so, you’re likely to incur damages and increase your expenses.
  • Are the measurements the same? If not, you could be increasing your costs without realising it.
  • Is the material correct for the job? If so, you could be using much more material than you really need to and increasing your costs.
  • Is it superior quality? If it is, this is always the best route, because you will reduce your costs without compromising performance specification, product dimensions, and material suitability, and therefore without compromising your desire to reduce annual material costs.

Want to save money on your packaging? Choose the quality route and you’ll see more long term, sustainable advantages than finding the cheapest provider! Call one of our advisors today and we’ll help you to identify where you can make savings without compromise!

Speak to one of our knowledgeable packaging specialists on 01733 233 322 or email us at sales@eastpac.co.uk or fill out the form below and we will be in touch!

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