The Problem With Packaging

When the packaging is more important than the product

In the old days, packing was a functional device to get the product inside delivered safely.  Today the packaging is often seen as important as the product inside, and commands a serious chunk of the cost.

People buy with their eyes

This is the nub of the problem, your sight is your dominant sense. We buy with our eyes first, and the marketeers know this. So the design and the look of the outer packing becomes really important to shift those boxes off the shelf and into the hands of the uncertain or casual purchaser.

We even use plain outer boxes to protect the glossy inner boxes from damage in shipping. Boxes within boxes, slowly getting more and more expensive, until we meet the actual functioning bit.  Weirdly the money spent on this part goes down.

Where the money goes

So here’s the percentage breakdown figures from IHS Markit’s teardown team for a Google Home Max Smart speaker. (I had to estimate the breakdown of housing and speakers, as they just provided a figure for mechanicals).

From small to big

  • 2.31% Bundled accessories
  •  3.53% Processors
  •  6.50% Audio amplifier
  • 6.61 Literature & packaging
  •  6.98% Bluetooth & Wi-Fi
  • 7.33% Interface
  • 9.29% Memory
  • 10.21% (estimated) Speaker drivers
  • 13.03% Battery &Power supply
  • 34.40% ( estimated) Housing

So more money was spent on the packaging, than the audio amplifiers…

And if you add in the visual housing, nearly a third of the cost was spent on making it look good.

Remember these are manufacturing costs and don’t include design etc.

What's important to you?

The breakdown above is typical of this sort of device, but it shows how important it is to look cool and be packaged well if you’re selling to the masses.

You can sort of see why the housing looking good is important – I mean you have to look at it every day. As a side note, in non-blind speaker auditions, the most impressive looking speakers always win the sound contest, irrespective of their sonic abilities. Go figure.

But packaging?  Is it really worth 6-7% of the cost of the speaker to be invested into plastic, pretty cardboard and polystyrene? More than the bits that make the sound?  You won’t even look at the packaging after a few minutes. Most people will either throw the packaging away or archive it. 

All that money in the bin, rather than in the speaker.

Lets do it another way

We don’t want to spend money on plastic tooling or expensive boxes just for packaging, which gets thrown away.  

And because we sell directly, online, we don’t need to spend money on glossy boxes advertising the speaker on the shelf or a store.

We’d rather put more money into the audio parts to improve the sound.

So we did.

We use regular off the shelf packing parts to ship the SoundBucket. Boring, but strong, functional, and completely recyclable or even recycled already.

The money saved went straight into  the speaker drivers and analogue circuits.  And if you close your eyes and listen, you’ll hear the benfit straight away.


Listen with your eyes, or listen with your ears. Your choice