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Lamination often doesn’t get its due in packaging conversations. This results in brand managers not hearing about lamination options until those rushed final steps of giving the “go” to updated packaging. The truth is that lamination deserves priority in a packaging conversation because it’s the step that turns packaging from a concept to a consumer-ready reality. How it’s done will ultimately impact the purchasing decisions of 72% of consumers!

The big conversation that needs to take place surrounding lamination comes down to type. Brands can choose between matte or gloss lamination for finished, polished packaging. Take a look at what both options bring to the customer experience!

Why Does Packaging Need Lamination?

Most people handle packaging every day without realizing that the satisfying tactile experience that is being created is actually the product of lamination. Most packaged consumer products are sold in laminated packages. Lamination is simply the practice of applying an ultra-thin layer of plastic film to packaging. The benefits of lamination include:

  • A softer feel.
  • A more polished appearance.
  • A slight shine that draws the eye to a package.
  • Protection for the surface of the package.
  • A softening of any lines or creases in the underlying packaging material.
  • Extra insulation and protection for perishable items.
  • Protection for all printed materials and graphics.
  • Protection against UV rays.
  • Protection against dust particles.
  • Proof of tampering.

A brand manager looking at finishing touches for packaging for the first time might wonder if an option like varnish can be used in the place of lamination. While both create a finishing veneer, lamination and varnish actually aren’t interchangeable. Lamination offers superior protection for packaging when compared to varnish.

The biggest benefit of lamination is its ability to protect against moisture. This can preserve the packaging while also keeping the actual product being housed fresh and uncontaminated. The sealing effect of laminate also helps to protect packaging from all types of damage to improve customer impression. As many brand managers know, damaged packaging siphons resources through returns, replacements, discounts, and markdowns.

Comparing Matte and Gloss: What Are the Main Differences?

Choosing between matte and gloss lamination really comes down to choosing how big you want your brand’s “sparkle factor” to be. Gloss creates an eye-catching finish with shine and high contrast. Matte offers a way to put on a polishing touch in a more subdued way.

What Is Matte Lamination?

Matte lamination is a style of lamination with a “flatter” finish. It often has a soft, velvety texture that makes holding a package feel more satisfying. While matte lacks the “flashiness” of a gloss option, it comes with its own list of benefits. First, the fact that matte doesn’t come on strong with a reflective finish makes it a more calming and subdued choice. Matte is a great choice if you want your packaging style to have a more muted, reserved look. Matte softens the contrasts on packaging by not clashing with any of the darker colors used for text or graphics. There’s a lot of freedom to play around with different colors to see how to strike a perfect balance with matte.

Matte also happens to be a top pick for packaging that will undergo special printing techniques like embossing, debossing and metallic foiling. It performs beautifully when it comes to concealing scratches and abrasions. Matte also fights against glare. This can be important for packaging that will be displayed on store shelves because glare can distort all of the hard work that has been put into a package design. It can also reduce readability for customers!

Another perk is that it’s possible to write on laminate packaging. Many brands also love the way that matte keeps a fresh appearance instead of dulling over time the way that some gloss finishes can. The final perk of matte over gloss is that matte typically tends to be easier to remove from packaging than gloss.

What Is Gloss Lamination?

Gloss laminate is the attention-getting choice that creates a high-shine look! It is commonly used for high-end, prestigious brands looking to make packaging appear more elite. Gloss generally performs well against factors like fingerprints, dust, and dirt. However, it is notoriously susceptible to things like scuffs and scrapes. This can be frustrating for brands that can’t control what happens to their packaging after products leave the warehouse floor. In many cases, packaging with gloss lamination can show up “all dinged up” by the time it reaches a customer’s hands if it has been mishandled at any point during stocking or transport.

It’s very important for brands to have an understanding of how their products will be displayed before selecting gloss lamination. The fact that gloss lamination reflects light quite vividly means that glare issues could distort a package if it’s placed under bright store lights. Finally, it’s difficult to write on a box with gloss lamination.

Which Lamination Option Is the Cheapest

Many brands are thrown a bit of a curveball when getting pricing for different lamination options. While gloss lamination creates a more extreme look, it’s actually not the more expensive option. Matte lamination tends to be more expensive than gloss lamination.

Deciding Between Matte and Gloss Lamination: What’s Right for Your Brand?

Brands really need to get to the core of the intended customer experience when deciding between matte and gloss lamination. The answer starts with really understanding a product’s market positioning in relation to customer expectations. Consider matte under the following conditions:

  • Your brand image relies on muted, quiet colors.
  • Your product will be displayed under direct lights.
  • Your product should have a clean, fresh and professional appearance.
  • You plan to use some type of embossing, debossing and metallic foiling on your packaging.

What if matte lamination is too subdued for your brand goals? This is where gloss can help to enhance all of your other decisions for package design. Consider gloss lamination under the following conditions:

  • In-store glare isn’t a concern because a product ships directly to customers.
  • Packaging will need protection against fingerprints because it will be handled frequently during processing and shipping.
  • Your brand image relies on bold colors.
  • You’re looking for the cheapest way to add laminate to packaging.

It’s important for brands to see what their packaging can potentially look like using both options before settling on a “winner.” This is helpful for crafting the customer experience based on real-world applications. The choice ultimately comes down to deciding how customers should feel when holding a package for the first time. Matte can create an experience of quality and seriousness. By contrast, gloss signals to customers that they have selected something elegant and prestigious that will excite them. Brands ultimately have to make sure that they aren’t veering into a territory of “overkill” with something like gloss laminate because a gloss finish combined with an ostentatious package design can sometimes make the final effect louder and harsher than intended.

Are There Any Downsides to Using Lamination on Product Packaging?

The big thing to know is that the benefits of lamination will outweigh the downsides in cases where lamination is truly an asset. The biggest drawback to lamination is that there’s no way to make a package with lamination 100% recyclable. The process of adding a layer of lamination over the other layers of packaging makes it impossible to recycle packaging as a cohesive unit. While consumers may be able to remove lamination, the task of peeling it away can be difficult. Brands can reduce the environmental impact of packaging featuring lamination by using boxes and paper products that are made from recycled materials.

Giving Your Package a Seal of Excellence: Talk With Packaging Professionals About Matte and Gloss Lamination

Deciding between matte and gloss laminate is a decision that impacts a brand’s overall impression more than most brand managers realize until the finished product hits the shelves. This one small detail has big implications for how products are perceived during those impression-making seconds when a customer picks up a box for the first time. Do you need help weighing the pros and cons of matte and gloss laminate using real-life dimensions? Book your custom packaging quote with Mid-Atlantic Packaging for custom advice!