limited production :: hand crafted :: high performance :: rechargeable :: premium flashlights

This is my blog about creating a startup LED flashlight business. I'm a designer, fabricator, and strategist and I'm passionate about making ideas real. I believe that products are about people, that they should be built to last, deliver real value, and that we need to do a better job than we have in the recent past.

Most of my career has been contract or freelance work and I've crafted products and strategies for both big international companies and startups. I also used to work in the "industry" fabricating special effects for film and TV, along with the occasional hot rod. Bottom line, I love making things.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

POLL: Is packaging important?


So here is something that I've been wrestling with from a business and product standpoint. I've heard a fair number of people say..."wow this would be great with a really nice box or something." This of course makes me think of Apple and the high praise for their packaging. Here is a photo in case you don't live in Silicon Valley and weren't issued an iSomething when you moved here.

Image courtesy of Apple Insider

Should my premium flashlights come with premium packaging? 

Should I offer packaging?


So this is part 2 of my poll. 

I wanted to bring up a couple of things to think about, and then I'll ask you to vote again. What got me thinking:

I bought a couple of lights yesterday at Home Depot to test them out. Maglite's LED version and a "focusable" light from a well known manufacturer, Coast/LED Lenser.

Here are the two lights:

Here is an image of my customer experience: 

My thoughts: 
  1. Packaging costs money, and this gets passed on to you, the buyer. It also (likely) means that it won't fit into a small USPS flat rate shipping will be more expensive. 
  2. The packaging in the photos above is not premium, but it's still disposable. If the packaging is disposable, that is inherently wasteful. I don't really want to be responsible for manufacturing trash, I'd rather make things that will last a lifetime. 
  3. I also don't really want to sell people trash. Apple packaging is pretty and fun to open, but that doesn't make is any less like garbage once you are done with it. 
  4. The package could be some really wonderful hand made wooden display box, but I would refer you to point number one. 
So, let's try the poll again. No judgement. You are the potential consumers so I'm concerned with your opinion. That's what this is all about. I'll be basing a lot of my decision on your feedback. As you can tell my bias is that I don't want to offer packaging, but if it's a deal maker or deal breaker, I want to know.

Still think I should I offer packaging?

Also, feel free to expand on the thinking behind your vote in the comments section! 




  1. You might consider functional packaging - for example, a little cloth bag that the light fits snugly into. It could have a belt loop for hip use, or you could use it when you're tossing your flashlight into your bag with breakable stuff, as padding.

  2. I'm with Seth. The packaging also functions as a functional device when your fine product needs to stand or hang in a store. It will be a place for the price, and it can be protective, so that your fine flashlight doesn't get scratched during shipping. Finally, it can be the place for a marketing/ad moment, so you don't need to pay extra for expensive in-store advertising.

  3. How about an optional case? Some may find the case useful, say if they would like to keep the flashlight in their car and don't want it to be lost in the recesses of the glovebox. Others may see it as wasteful and opt for the cheaper, sans-case option.

  4. I like the bag or holder idea. Use the packaging as a statement against excessive waste and trash. But at this price point, I think you need something flashy in the packaging. It shoudl be "green" but classy and reusable, if possible.

  5. I might be able to get behind something like a simple drawstring bag. I'd love to find some cool local source instead of buying it off of some internet super-mart. There are lots of anonymous black velvet bags out there for .12 cents each, but I don't think going that route reflects my brand position. I'll do some investigation...might have to pay Rickshaw a visit!

  6. Dan's buddy Bob Farkas works for McKinsey's Consumer Packaging group here in NYC. I would think he would have some valuable insights. Let me know if you want his contact info.

    For me packaging serves two purposes. 1) It helps sell the product and adds to the brands image and 2) It can serve as a storage device for the product and its accessories. I agree that packaging can be wasteful, but it also may be a necessary evil.

    - Jon

  7. Have Rickshaw make you a durable nylon belt loop/pouch w/ velcro closure.

    In a store it could also have a small cardstock hangtag with some product info hanging off the back of where the belt-loop loop is.

    iPhone is not the right model, nor is the blister pack of your competitors.

  8. I too like the thought of a cloth bag. Perhaps one that could be made of a soft enough material to double as a lens cleaner?

  9. Kendall the CarpentryHeroFebruary 7, 2011 at 7:51 PM

    My feeling as a CPFer a reusable box that protects the product is fine by me.
    Save the $.30 to 5.00 a peace. Atleast until after you sell your first 100 lights. Maybe mark the first hundred so that they'll be collectables.

  10. These are all great comments! I had no idea this would actually be a hot topic. I think, as Kendall suggests, I might have to start out bare bones. I do plan to keep developing the "packaging" idea though to keep the comments going. Discussion is welcome too!

  11. Soft drawstring bag with your name or logo inside a simple reusable box or bag for shipping. Make it simple, be as green as possible (hey you are in the bay area ya gotta "think" green!), heck look around San Fran, and others are doing away with plastic bags...(now where am I gonna put my garbage). May be something people elsewhere think as silly, but start green and who knows maybe you will get people to buy because of that!

  12. I think that you should go with a molded pulp packaging solution in an interesting shape. That way, you could maintain the premium brand feel and not sell something that will only make more waste. The molded pulp stuff can be made from post-consumer material and be completely recyclable. You could also have seeds incorporated into the package and have people plant the package when they are done with it if you want to go super green. I also like the bag idea, but I don’t see that as being secure on a store shelf unless it is in that annoying plastic stuff that the other flashlights come in.