Select Page

Product packaging isn’t finished until it has a finish. Using the right finishing method is essential for creating a quality experience for customers. Brand managers often find themselves with a choice between soft-touch coating and soft-touch lamination once all of the other packaging decisions have been finalized. Which one is the best option?

There’s actually a lot to consider when making the choice. Brands can truly put the final polish on brand messaging by choosing the right soft-touch finish for their packaging. Take a look at what every packaging decision-maker needs to know about soft-touch coating versus soft-touch lamination.

What Do Soft-Touch Finishes Feel Like?

Soft-touch finishes feel soft. However, this type of finish has a very distinct feel that brand managers have a hard time forgetting once it’s been experienced in person. Packaging with soft-touch finishing can be described as having a “velvety” softness that is soothing and enticing. Generally, people compare soft-touch finishes to the feel of delicate suede or leather.

What’s the Difference Between Soft-Touch Coating and Soft-Touch Lamination?

Soft-touch coating and soft-touch lamination are two different finishing methods that impact the “final feel” of your packaging material. Soft-touch coating is applied in liquid form during your inline process immediately after printing. The velvety feel that’s created kicks in after the coating fully dries. Soft-touch lamination is actually bonded to the top of your finished packaging material. As a result, you’re getting a more subdued appearance with an even softer feel.

All About Soft-Touch Coating

Soft-touch coating provides a soft look and feel. This option is also great for resisting fingerprints. Here’s a look at the perks of choosing soft-touch coating for your packaging materials:

  • It’s the more economical option.
  • It doesn’t alter coloration.
  • It doesn’t alter final quality.
  • It can be applied in different thickness levels.
  • It works with a variety of surface materials.
  • It resists yellowing.

Soft-touch coating is often the preferred choice for retail-ready packaging. It’s exceptional for preserving the quality and coloring of your printed designs. Overall, soft-touch coating creates a sophisticated look that delivers a very satisfying tactile experience that ultimately enhances the customer experience.

The downside to soft-touch coating is that it doesn’t add any strength or durability to a package. While it can help to protect images on your printed materials, soft-touch coating doesn’t add a “seal” the way that an option like soft-touch lamination does. However, it can certainly be more than enough for packages that don’t require added protection or insulation. Lastly, soft-touch coating tends to create a shinier, glossier finished look when compared to soft-touch lamination.

All About Soft-Touch Lamination

Soft-touch lamination is applied using a process that bonds a laminate plastic film on top of your packaging materials. This is considered a high-end, sophisticated option that comes with a higher premium. The benefits of using soft-touch lamination include:

  • It’s very resistant to fingerprints.
  • It adds extra durability and strength to packaging.
  • It’s very resistant to scuffs, scratches and smudges.
  • It’s resistant to color changes.
  • It provides a moisture barrier.

Many people find that soft-touch lamination actually softens the look of text and graphics on packaging. This can help to create a more mature, sophisticated look than the glossy appearance created by soft-touch coating. Soft-touch lamination is a top pick for packages that will be handled frequently during shipping. It also provides beautiful durability for packaging that will stay in storage for longer periods of time. However, the added durability and insulation gained with soft-touch lamination will come with a premium. Soft-touch lamination is more expensive than an option like soft-touch coating.

Why Soft-Touch Finishes Should Not Be Skipped When Designing Product Packaging

Many brand managers wonder if soft-touch finishes are really necessary when working wants versus needs into their packaging budgets. Soft-touch finishes simply enhance the unboxing experience for customers. They also make products look more visually appealing on the shelves, in your hands, in promotional features, and on pictures shared on social media.

Soft-touch finishes can look amazing when combined with other finishing elements for packages. For instance, many brands actually use soft-touch finishes in collaboration with a UV printing method to draw attention to certain components on packaging. In addition, it’s becoming increasingly popular to actually combine soft-touch finishes with embossed details. Embossing is a process that makes certain pieces of text or images “pop out” from packaging as a way to draw the eye to it. In addition, special touches like window patching and foil stamping can also be used to put high-end touches on packaging for a truly elevated impression.

The Big Question: How Durable Is Soft-Touch Finishing?

This is a question that many brand managers ask before deciding to invest in soft-touch finishing. It’s true that soft-touch finishing has what would be considered more of a “muted” look than other finishes. Some brand managers concerned with sticking to brand standards as far as colors and hues have concerns that soft-touch finishes can actually “wash out” brand colors. There’s no need to be concerned about this!

Yes, soft-touch finishes are known for creating a more subdued, flat look that makes text and graphics look more mature and sophisticated. However, the effect that is created doesn’t actually cause colors to appear faded or washed out. Colors used on packaging will remain as vivid and striking as they originally looked before a soft-finish application was applied. In fact, many brands actually find that soft-touch finishing brings out the colors chosen even more to create a heightened visual experience on their product packaging.

What Types of Brands Use Soft-Touch Finishes for Their Products?

The truth is that soft-touch lamination can be used on any printed material when the brand goal is to create a look of understated, high-value elegance. However, certain brands and products are more likely to utilize soft-touch lamination than others. Luxury products tend to go heavy on soft-touch lamination compared to other finishing options. Cosmetic packaging and perfumes often use soft-touch lamination to create a very rich, feminine feel. Soft-touch finishing is also used frequently for candies and chocolates to establish a brand as offering premium, high-end products.

Do Customers Care What Packages Feel Like?

Choosing a product is really a decision that’s made by the senses! That’s why the feel of a product is so important. Luxury products benefit the most from soft-touch finishes because consumers seeking out luxury products are willing to pay premiums to get better products. A “soft touch” on the exterior of the box conveys that a high level of detail has gone into creating the product inside the box.

Soft-touch finishes can be especially effective for products related to beauty and relaxation. Feeling a velvety touch on the outside of the box creates a subconscious connection between the soft, luxurious sensation the person is feeling while holding the product and the way their skin will feel after using the product. According to marketing experts, nearly 95% of all purchasing decisions are actually made on a subconscious level using this type of reasoning process.

It’s also important for brands to be conscious of the importance of the unboxing experience! As many branding experts have pointed out, consumers are hooked on the thrill of unboxing products from iconic brands like Apple and Tiffany & Co. because the packaging is so deeply entrenched in the experience of interacting with these brands. One great unboxing experience can lead to another because people will seek out a repeat of the satisfaction they’ve experienced when unveiling a product. There’s also a shareable element to the unboxing experience today. Brands that produce boxes that get people excited are very likely to have their packages featured in unboxing experiences shared by everyone from real people eager to show off their luxury purchases to their friends to digital influencers seeking click-worthy content.

Do You Need Help Making Sense of Soft-Touch Finishes?

There’s no need for choosing the right soft-touch finish to feel hard. At Mid-Atlantic Packaging, we help brands find packaging options that fit their brand profiles to create the best unboxing experiences imaginable. Soft-touch finishes can work with a wide variety of packaging materials that are durable, refined, and sustainable. Reach out today for your custom packaging quote!