What Are Packaging Inserts: The Comprehensive Guide

custom mug packaging boxes with insert

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In today’s consumer-driven landscape, packaging does more than just enclose products. It narrates a brand’s story, sets expectations, and even cultivates experiences. Central to this experience are packaging inserts – tools that not only protect the contents but also augment the unboxing journey. From holding the product in place to delivering brand messages, inserts are the unsung heroes of the packaging world. Let’s dive deeper into understanding their types and significance.

What are Packaging Inserts?

Packaging inserts are purpose-built components added to product packaging to serve a multitude of roles. They can be designed to protect the product, enhance its presentation, or even deliver a promotional message. Broadly, packaging inserts fall into two categories: product inserts, which focus on the physical safeguarding and presentation of the product, and promotional inserts, aimed at brand enhancement and customer engagement.

Product Inserts

Custom boxes with inserts are a specialized form of packaging that offers a unique combination of functionality and aesthetics. These boxes typically include an outer packaging layer, which is the custom box, and an inner layer, which is the insert. The insert can be made from various materials like cardboard, foam, or plastic, and it provides additional structure and protection for the items inside the box.

Cardboard Dividers and Inserts

A versatile choice in packaging, cardboard dividers serve as effective partitions in larger boxes, ensuring products remain separated and organized. From cosmetics to food items, these inserts accommodate a range of products. Their paper-based structure allows for easy and clear printing, making branding straightforward and effective.

The environmental footprint of cardboard dividers also appeals to eco-conscious brands. Being biodegradable, they align with sustainability goals, contributing to a reduction in waste. Moreover, with the right liners, these dividers can also be adapted for food items, ensuring they remain safe from external contaminants.

custom mailer box with cardboard insert

Foam Inserts

Foam inserts, often employed in the packaging realm, provide a secure cushion for products requiring delicate handling. Typically used for electronics, fragile collectibles, or jewelry, these inserts are customized to fit the shape and size of the product, ensuring it remains snug during transit. Their key strength lies in their ability to absorb shocks and prevent damage from impacts or drops.

However, foam does have its limitations. Direct printing on its porous surface can be challenging, often not yielding the crisp results brands seek. As a workaround, companies often use labels or overlay cards for branding purposes. While traditional foam materials have faced criticism for environmental reasons, the packaging industry is now embracing more sustainable alternatives, including biodegradable or recyclable foam.

packaging box with foam insert

Plastic Inserts

Precision is the hallmark of molded plastic inserts. Custom-crafted for specific products, these inserts offer a tight fit, ensuring items like cosmetics or toys are showcased professionally and remain secure. The aesthetic appeal of these inserts, combined with their functional value, makes them a popular choice among brands aiming for a polished product presentation. While the smooth surface of plastic may pose some challenges for direct printing, innovative branding solutions, such as labels or stickers, often come to the rescue. However, the environmental impact of traditional plastics has been a concern. Addressing this, many packaging manufacturers are turning to recycled or recyclable plastics, with some variants also suitable for packaging food items.


custom printed boxes with plastic insert

Fabric or Velvet Lined Inserts

When the goal is to convey luxury, fabric or velvet-lined inserts are the go-to option. From holding intricate jewelry pieces to high-end tech gadgets, these plush inserts heighten the unboxing experience, transforming it into a memorable affair. Their soft texture cradles the product, offering an added layer of protection while exuding opulence.

While these inserts may not be the best candidates for direct printing, brands often innovate with alternative methods like embroidery or using embossed badges for a touch of elegance. When sourced ethically, these fabric inserts can be eco-friendly, and for products meant for consumption, an added protective layer ensures the items remain uncontaminated.

packaging with fabric insert

Promotional Inserts

Promotional inserts, often found within packages, play an instrumental role in establishing a bond between brands and their customers. Ranging from thank-you cards to discount codes and samples, these inserts carry substantial weight in shaping a brand’s image.

The design, quality, and print of these promotional cards can significantly sway brand perception. A meticulously designed and high-quality printed insert amplifies the unboxing experience, reinforcing the brand’s values and creating a lasting impression.

Thank-You Cards: A touch of personalization goes a long way. Thank-you cards, particularly handwritten ones, resonate deeply with consumers, fostering brand loyalty.

Discount Codes & Coupons: Beyond incentivizing repeat business, exclusive deals amplify the special bond between brands and their patrons.

Product Samples: These are windows to a brand’s world, enticing consumers to explore more, fostering cross-selling in the process.

Instructional Guides: For products with a steeper learning curve, these guides are lifesavers, ensuring users get the best out of their purchases while minimizing returns.

Feedback & Review Cards: By encouraging feedback, brands underline their commitment to continual improvement, valuing customer perspectives.

Pros and Cons of Packaging Inserts

Understanding the advantages and potential challenges of using inserts can guide businesses in leveraging them most effectively.


  • Personalized Experience: Custom inserts, be it product packaging inserts or promotional ones, make the customer feel valued.
  • Protection: Especially with custom packaging with inserts, the primary product is safeguarded against potential damage during transit.
  • Brand Enhancement: Well-designed and thought-out inserts amplify brand image, making it stand out in a crowded market.


  • Additional Costs: Designing, printing, and including custom inserts can add to the packaging cost. However, the ROI in terms of brand loyalty and repeat business can often justify this.
  • Sustainability Concerns: While options like foam have faced environmental criticism, choosing eco-friendly alternatives can mitigate this concern.
  • Space Considerations: Especially in compact packaging, finding space for promotional inserts can be challenging. The design should ensure that the product isn’t overshadowed by the inserts.


Packaging inserts, when employed judiciously, can be powerful tools in a brand’s arsenal. From enhancing product safety to forging deeper brand-customer connections, they offer multifaceted benefits. As the world of e-commerce grows, the unboxing experience gains prominence, with inserts playing a pivotal role. Whether you’re a brand exploring inserts for packaging or a customer keen on understanding the nuances of what arrives in your package, the world of inserts is vast, varied, and incredibly vital.

Ready to Elevate Your Unboxing Experience? If you’re eager to explore more on custom insert possibilities tailored to your brand’s unique requirements, don’t hesitate. Contact our specialists here and embark on a journey to enhance your brand’s packaging narrative.


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