Bert Co Series: Do Tactile Finishes Increase Sales?

Is Texture The "Killer App" For Secondary Packaging?

Texture on folding cartons and rigid boxes continues to make its way from prestige to mass in many categories at retail. For decades prestige rigid boxes were wrapped with textured fabrics and highly embossed wraps. These highly textured surfaces entice shoppers to reach out and touch them, inviting more senses into the shopping adventure and may lead more impulse buying.

Tactile coatings such as Soft Touch, a suede-like coating, and Hi Rise UV are part of the designer’s toolbox that can be done on press and can avoid expensive embossing tooling costs.

But does adding a tactile finish really influence a shopper’s decisions?

A recent study indicates it does.

A study conducted by California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo, by Professor Malcom G. Keif, used a mock $50 skin care product to test beauty shoppers purchase preferences. The participants were asked a series of questions around where they buy their skincare products and at what price point.

  1. 81% of respondents said they pick up the package when evaluating a new beauty product before purchasing.
  2. 56% of respondents said they agreed that high quality beauty/cosmetic products have fashionably decorative, expensive packaging. 
  3. 46% of respondents said they agreed that they assume that fashionably decorative, expensive packaging is an indication of quality and expect to pay more for the product. 

First, they were shown a black carton and white carton and asked their preference, which showed no significant statistical difference.

Then participants were shown folding cartons with 3 kinds of coatings: 

• A standard coating, 
• A Soft Touch, velvety like coating, 
• A Hi Rise UV coating creating a pattern covering two sides of the box

Prices were associated with the choices as well, testing to see if participants were willing to pay a 5% premium for products with packages with these finishes. The preferences were ranked as follows:

  1. Hi Rise, $52.15
  2. Soft Touch $54.76
  3. Soft Touch $52.15
  4. Hi Rise $54.76
  5. Standard Coating  $52.15
  6. Standard Coating  $54.76



Surprisingly, the Soft Touch coating was preferred at a higher price point. This may indicate greater perceived value connected to the higher price, according to the study.

To get a copy of the study visit here.


This package from Parfums De Couer  is completely in sync  with this study. It has an overall Soft Touch background and uses glossy Hi Rise UV to give detail to the lips. 

There are so many ways to add texture. Of course embossing is the standard. Brass tooling is great to work with and gives lots of detail but can be thousands of dollars.

Parfums De Coeur just launched a touch-worthy all over embossed pattern on silver metalized board for their Signature Collection, giving the collection a high end luxury feeling.

Gift sets in any category are a natural place to add texture as they often have large areas that don’t need lots of type, so that the texture can really stand out and beg to be picked up at retail. 

Maybe texture really is the “killer” app for secondary packaging.

By Suzan Kerston

Suzan Kerston is a packaging Geek. She attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, completing her studies in graphic communications. She is Executive Vice President at Bert-Co where she has worked for 31 years.
Since 1930. Bert-Co creates and manufactures specialty and innovative packaging to luxury markets including beauty, distilled beverage, fancy food, and entertainment. Bert-Co excels at unusual coatings, unique substrates, sophisticated structures, and high-degree-of-difficulty folding cartons. Domestic manufacturing and global sourcing. 

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