What are the Different Types of Custom Packaging?

If you are new to the world of product packaging, here is a guide to help you pick the best packaging match for your product.

Are you new to the world of product packaging? If that's the case, there are many things to think about and learn. Choosing your best packaging match is one of the most important things at this stage.

When it comes to packaging a product, if you are looking at ordering custom pouches, for example, you must choose the one that best suits your product's properties and format. Before you make a final decision and shell out your budget, take the time to research the available options.

In this article, we go through the different types of custom packaging. If you still can't make an informed decision on which one is best for you, we're here to help you sort things out.

1. Flexible Pouches / Flexible Bags

Some people think "pouches" are always smaller than "bags" and use terms based on that. For our discussion, we use "pouch" and "bag" interchangeably since we can produce larger pouches for heavier or bulkier products.

Four different pouch me bag styles on a floating podium

A flexible pouch is a single-use bag typically made of plastic, metal/foil, and sometimes, paper. These flexible packaging bags are widely found on store shelves worldwide and can hold various products, from snacks to industrial chemicals.

Flexible pouches have become increasingly popular in food production in recent years. They're popular because they can be made resealable and are more eco-friendly and less expensive than their cardboard, metal, and glass counterparts.

Custom packaging pouches are retail containers for everything from energy drinks to cereal. They have a considerably lower environmental impact and take up much less room in our dumpsters than the above-mentioned alternative packaging materials.

Custom pouches and custom bags have recently become popular in the commercial hemp and legal cannabis industries as packaging receptacles for whole flower marijuana and hemp products.

Different Styles of Flexible Pouches

We can print and finish flexible pouches with different shapes and styles. Some popular pouch names corresponding to pouch styles and formats are:

  • Stand Up Pouch, also abbreviated as SUP
  • Lay Flat Pouch, also called pillow pouch or flat pouch
  • Flat Bottom Pouch, always built with two side gussets (gussets look like pleats)
  • Diecut Pouch, also called shaped pouch

What are gussets in custom packaging?

We mentioned the term "gusset" with the flat bottom pouch. Gussets are extra folds added to a custom pouch or bag's side or bottom seams, and they act as extensions to add more holding capacity to your pouch. Think more breadth and depth.

Mock-up solo shot of a flat bottom coffee pouch

They're fantastic because this extra material makes pouches expandable and form-fit to any product (and perfect for bulkier contents). Besides adding lots of interior room, gussets make your packaging easier to transport and display since they're thinner and more collapsible than boxes.

Gussets also distribute the stress created by the contents' weight, making the pouch stronger by strengthening its joints. You might have heard the term "gusset bag" and don't understand what that is. Let's get right to it.

What's a gusset pouch and gusset packaging bag?

A gusset bag or gusseted pouch is a custom pouch style that can either have a gusset built into the bottom or built at both sides of the pouch.

Side gusset Vs. Bottom gusset pouches

Side gusset pouches feature gussets on the right and left sides, with flat front and rear panels. The panels serve as printing real estate for branding, imagery, nutritional information, and other graphic art aesthetics.

Labelled comparison shot of side gusset versus bottom gusset

Bottom gusset pouches are heftier and typically hold more product than side gusset pouches. Since they only have one gusset, bottom gusseted pouches have more size and shape options than side gusseted pouches. This feature allows for a more dynamic design in its overall appearance.

*Stand-up pouches are one of the most common forms of flexible pouches on the current market, and many people are more familiar with them. However, they might not be the ideal option for your packaging requirements.

We'll go over the various types of flexible packaging bags on the market today and explain why certain variants are more suited for specific products than others.

Overview: Different Types of Custom Pouch Packaging

Stand-Up Pouch

Stand-up pouches are quite a popular and widely available type of flexible pouch. Stand-up pouches got their name because they do exactly that: they stand up! You've definitely seen these resealable cereal bags in your local grocery store.

These packaging pouches have tops that typically have a "tear-off" tab. Once detached, this feature allows the package to be sealed and reopened as required until the user has consumed all of the contents within.

They generally include a plastic zip-lock underneath the tear-off tab so that users may reseal them. Like those seen on plastic water bottles, a stand-up pouch has a plastic cap used for packaging liquid products.

Anatomy of a stand up pouch with different functional add-ons, plus bottom gusset

There is an oval-shaped pocket beneath the pouch base whose circumference functions as a support for the bag allowing it to "stand up." When you place the bag on a flat surface, it stands up.

The semi-oval groove on each side results in a square or rectangular-shaped base. These features enable the pouch to stand up differently from typical stand-up pouches.

If you're aiming for a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable flexible packaging solution, stand-up pouches could be the way to go. Furthermore, your customers will find stand-up pouches appealing since they can be personalized and printed with vivid color, edge-to-edge designs, and images.

Lay Flat Pouch

You've probably seen a lay-flat pouch that takes the usual form of a three-sided seal pouch. This pouch type has two metal foil pieces or one metal foil and one transparent plastic side. We can also use paper as one of its layers for other product applications. On the three sides, the two sheets of material are heat-sealed together.

A lay flat pouch top or bottom is left open for filling, and we finish off this pouch with a tear-away flap. This type of opening makes it simple for the customer to open the bag.

Anatomy of a lay flat pouch with labelled functional add-ons

Hang holes and resealable zippers, similar to those seen on stand-up pouches, can be added to three side seal pouches. Three-side seal pouches may be suitable for those seeking a durable pouch with a transparent window that allows the consumer to view the goods inside and easy opening through a rip-away lid.

Flat Bottom Pouch

A flat bottom pouch is a five-sided, stand-up bag with a flat rectangular-shaped bottom and a top seal.

Always built with two side gussets — additional side material that resembles pleats — flat bottom pouches are a favorite among specialty coffee roasters due to their versatility, durability, and cost-effectiveness. 

Flat bottom pouches are most commonly constructed using aluminum, kraft paper, or LDPE. Some people prefer to combine two or more layers of these for increased durability or for aesthetics. 

Anatomy of a Flat bottom pouch with labels

Specialty coffee roasters can also incorporate add-on features such as degassing valves or zippers to maximize their product’s freshness, flavor, and aroma.

They are a great choice for businesses that want their products to stand out in a sea of similar products. This is because they have five printable panels on which brands can display their product details, directions of use, and other branding elements.

They can be customized with various designs, colors, and finishes, allowing brands to interact with their consumers through professional, commercial branding assets.

Diecut Pouch

The well-known stand up pouch is now widely available and has become a revolutionary solution for more convenient and functional product packaging. So, how can you get your product to capture your customer’s interest if yours is just another similar pouch among a slew of others?

For creative and markedly novel branding , the diecut pouch is the answer. Diecut pouches are irregularly shaped stand up bags also known as shaped pouches. With the shaped pouch, you can choose different package designs based on your product specifications to enrich your customer’s experience as well as the appearance and feel of your product.

Diecut pouches can accommodate various additional features such as zippers and spouts. They have been and are being used successfully for memorable packaging concepts for beverages, pharmaceuticals, and nutritional supplements.

Diecut pouch solo shot

Pillow pouches

Pillow pouches have been around for a long time and are one of the most popular forms of flexible pouches on the market. This is also a type of lay-flat pouch.

Single-serve snacks such as crackers, chips, candies, single-serve coffee, and other small-serving foods have been packaged this way for decades.

front and back solo shot of a pillow pouch with central seal label

Many businesses in the food sector, especially those that package snack items such as crackers and confectionery, use them since they are among the cheapest and simple pouches currently available.

We find heat seals on the top and bottom of this pouch. A central seal goes along the back of the pillow and has a small flap that runs vertically from the top to the bottom seal. A tiny die-cut oval shape is on the top seal of particular pillow pouches, which enables them to be hung and displayed on metal pegs in a store.

Customers often unzip these pouches by pushing the two flat edges in opposing directions. The top seal generally opens, allowing for simple snacking of the food inside. This approach can result in jagged tears or difficulties opening the pouch. Some customers opt to take the top seal off since it is more convenient.

If you're looking for a simple, proven effective, ecologically friendly packaging option that's also inexpensive and well-known in the industry, pillow pouches could be a suitable fit.

Are there special considerations for liquid products in pouches?

Liquid packaging is a cumbersome process, and pouches are an excellent storage and packaging choice for both companies and consumers. There are various reasons why you should use pouches to package liquid products. Take a look at this:

Liquid pouches

These types of pouches come in various shapes and sizes, each designed particularly for liquid packing. Liquid pouches can be three-side seal, stand-up, dual-component, or burst pouches.

What are burst pouches?

Sample shot of burst pouches

Burst pouches are generally 100 percent transparent, intended to hold non-edible liquids and powders in industrial settings. Burst pouches with two or more linked and seal-separated pouches are known as dual-component pouches. These containers hold a combination of industrial liquids or powders that are required for specialized purposes.

Why choose custom pouches for packaging liquid products?

Liquid pouches are an excellent option for storing liquids, and they are less expensive and have a lesser environmental impact than standard glass and rigid plastic drink containers.

Apart from its distinctive functional value, we can print edge to edge with eye-catching branding features guaranteed to attract the customer's attention. On top of that, like all other flexible packaging options, they are more ecologically sustainable.

2. Rigid Packaging

Rigid means "unable to bend or be pressed out of shape; not flexible," according to the strict definition of the word. Rigid packaging is recognized for its fixed dimensions and provides structural support for products.

What are the kinds of rigid packaging?

Photo of rigid packaging
Rigid Packaging

Common rigid packaging materials include plastic containers, glass jars, paperboard boxes, aluminum cans, and corrugated cardboard.

Rigid packaging is popular with laundry detergents, cereal, soup, and alcohol packaging. Consumers usually expect this standard packaging format for the goods mentioned above.

Plastic packaging

A wide range of commodities, including delicate and non-perishable goods, use plastic packaging. Plastic packaging protects plastic-related materials and products. Most plastic packaging businesses recycle waste or scrap plastic for re-use in their own facilities, and some even provide alternatives.

These complex items with a short shelf life will be quickly impacted by climatic conditions without proper packaging, resulting in their malfunction or destruction. This packaging design ensures no air or dust gets inside the products and causes damage.

Corrugated cardboard

Corrugated cardboard is a popular packaging material commonly seen in freight, shoe, and storage boxes, and it's also a common packaging choice for e-commerce mailers and product packaging. Corrugated material is commonly used in subscription (or mailer) boxes to prevent items from being damaged during shipment while maintaining the structure's style and complexity to attract customers.

Custom packaging
Corrugated Cardboard Boxes

Corrugated boxes are customizable, much like paperboard, but more durable. If you choose to use this packaging as both your primary retail and delivery box, there will, of course, be more savings.

Paperboard boxes

This is a popular choice for several products because of its adjustable possibilities in materials, shapes, design, and printing while cutting costs. It's also lightweight yet strong, and it can be carved into any sort of structure, giving you many design options. Paperboard can be procured in various grades to meet various packaging needs, ranging from SBS paperboard to ecologically friendly Kraft paperboard.

Paperboard packaging
Paperboard Boxes

Rigid Vs. Flexible Packaging: Which One Is Best For Me?

The truth is that both flexibility and rigidity have advantages, and it all depends on what product you're packaging and its application.

Rigid containers, in general, provide more excellent protection for the goods within by providing structure and support. These containers are believed to be more durable and have a greater mass. The disadvantage is that when you drop glass, it might shatter, and cans and bottles can dent.

On the other hand, flexible packaging is impact resistant but, depending on the construction, can be pierced with a sharp object. Nonetheless, today's high-quality flexible packaging provides great barrier protection for the contents within against heat, smells, oxygen, and light. This complete, protective mechanism helps prevent spoiling, resulting in reduced food waste.

Decide on Custom Packaging That Best Preserves Your Products

As you try to decide the perfect type of packaging for your product, there are several factors you must consider. Your budget comes first, and then your product's weight, size, and shape. However, don't forget to note what kind of packaging is already being adopted by your customers and what packaging features they find indispensable.

-Different Types of Packaging FAQs-

What are the 7 types of packaging?

The 7 most common types of packaging include:

  • Foil seal bags
  • Polybags
  • Rigid boxes
  • Corrugated boxes
  • Chipboard packaging
  • Plastic boxes
  • Paperboard boxes

What is custom packaging?

As the name indicates, custom packaging is creating custom-made personalized packaging for your product, complete with your brand logo, package size, measurements, and colors, to stand out from the competition and convey a powerful branding statement.

What is the cheapest packaging material?

The cardboard box is usually the least expensive choice; however, choosing this usually incurs an additional cost in completing the packaging set. Special holders or materials such as bubble wrap are almost always required to protect fragile products from shattering.

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