New World Packaging

Cannabis Packaging: The Ultimate Custom Box Guide

Custom box cannabis packaging is essential for cannabis brands to secure retail shelf space and boost consumer sales. Today, more than ever, packaging affects purchase decisions. This includes cannabis product purchase decisions. This “Ultimate Custom Box Guide” will help you learn everything you need to know about designing and producing custom box cannabis packaging that piques consumer interest and effectively boosts sales.

Custom box cannabis packaging is essential for cannabis brands to secure retail shelf space and boost consumer sales. Today, more than ever, packaging affects purchase decisions. This includes cannabis product purchase decisions. 

In fact, packaging takes on another role today through consumers and social media influencers who share photos and unboxing videos with their online audiences. This form of earned media is an extremely powerful catalyst to word-of-mouth marketing that leads directly to expanded brand awareness and increased sales.

With that said, we created this “Ultimate Custom Box Guide” to help cannabis brands learn everything they need to know about designing and producing custom box cannabis packaging that piques consumer interest and effectively boosts sales.

Top 3 Benefits to Investing in Custom Boxes

The blue Tiffany box, the brown cardboard box with the big Amazon logo on it – there are many examples of packaging designs that show how important customization is for product boxes. Following are three of the biggest benefits your business will experience if you invest in great custom box cannabis packaging:

1. Increase Sales

Typically, consumers are more likely to purchase products in packaging that appeals to them in terms of design, form, and function. A unique package design can have a significant effect on how consumers perceive your brand, and as a result, you may even be able to charge a higher price if that is your goal.

With custom boxes, you can create the exact packaging that you want – something that matches your brand persona, appeals to your target customer audience, and fits well on retail shelves – so more dispensaries and retailers will want to carry your products and more consumers will ask for your products by name.

2. Differentiate Your Brand and Products

The cannabis industry will get even more competitive in the near future, so it’s critical that you separate your brand from others on the market. Packaging is an effective way to do it. While most states that have legalized medical or adult-use cannabis have a variety of regulations related to packaging design that could limit your creativity, there are still many opportunities to differentiate your brand and products using custom box designs. 

Make sure you work with a cannabis packaging company that has deep experience in packaging and in the cannabis industry to ensure you get the best custom boxes possible.   

3. Maximize Your Product’s Retail Shelf Space

With the right strategy, you can create a custom box design that is perfect not only for your brand and target audience but also for the retailers who need to give it space on their shelves. 

With that said, work with a cannabis packaging company that can help you optimize space constraints without negatively impacting your custom box design. An experienced cannabis packaging provider will help you make small, affordable changes to your designs that will have measurable positive effects.

Types of Custom Box Cannabis Packaging

A great custom box starts with the right manufacturer – one that delivers top quality custom work. There are many options in material and print techniques, and it’s important to use the right methods effectively. 

With that said, let’s dive into the details about the three main types of boxes and how to maximize the potential of each type through customization.

1. Folding Cartons

Folding cartons are the most popular type of retail box in the cannabis industry due to their cost effectiveness and lightweight material. Custom paper inserts are the most common way to hold the product in place inside the box.

Folding carton boxes offer all of the custom printing options you could want, including:

  • Embossing/debossing: Embossing causes the paper to have a raised surface. Debossing does the opposite and causes the paper to have a depressed surface.
  • Cold foiling or foil stamping: These are methods used to create a metallic effect. Cold foil is applied before printing. Foil stamping is applied after printing using heat and pressure.
  • Spot UV gloss effects: This is a highlight varnish that is applied to areas you want to draw attention to.
  • Pantone color matching: Custom color matching that ensures your packaging colors match your brand color palette. 
  • Varnish: Varnish gives your box an extra layer of sheen or dulls the sheen using either a gloss or matte finish. 

For example, a pop-top joint tube fits inside the custom die-cut box shown in the image below. New World Packaging produced this package for a cannabis brand client with print that includes full color, Spot UV, and foil stamping to mimic lights shining in the windows.

2. Rigid or Set-up Boxes

Rigid or set-up boxes are thick-walled boxes that don’t flatten out – they’re rigid. This type of box is often used for high-end products, and they can have all of the various options and effects that folding cartons have: embossing/debossing, cold foiling or foil stamping, Spot UV gloss, Pantone color matching, and varnish. 

Rigid or set-up boxes are very popular in the cannabis industry because they can be child resistant when they’re used with child resistant button options, foam inserts, and ribbons for opening purposes. 

As you might expect, a rigid or set-up box is almost 10x more expensive than a normal folding carton for multiple reasons: 

  1. Significantly more material and weight is required to manufacture rigid or set-up boxes than folding cartons. This also creates more waste.
  2. Handwork is necessary to make these boxes.
  3. Custom buttons, foam inserts, ribbons, and any other added option adds additional costs.
  4. Rigid or set-up boxes cannot be flattened, which increases freight and storage space costs.

As an example, the rigid box show in the image below was produced by New World Packaging for a cannabis brand. It fits a premium concentrate and includes a foam insert. Printing options included full color print and Spot UV.

It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of investing in a rigid or set-up box. Call New World Packaging at (949) 389-0100 to find out what’s right for your brand and product.

3. Corrugated (Cardboard) Boxes

Cardboard boxes are the go-to way to ship your cannabis products to retailers. At New World Packaging, we call them master cases to fit retail products in. These boxes can be as simple as stock cardboard boxes, or they can be custom printed/sized. 

Printing capabilities are limited with a cardboard box. There are three ways to print onto corrugated board: 

  1. Digital: For very short runs (1-250 units), digital printing can print full-color designs.
  2. RCD (Rotary Cutting Die): This is the most cost effective option for large runs. With RCD printing, print plates are used to print a single color, and then the board is die cut into a custom shape at the end. One or two colors can be printed in total, and no varnishes can be applied. 
  3. Lithographic Laminate: This is the printing option that provides the best quality and gives you the most printing options and capabilities. A thin sheet of paper is printed in full color. Once printed, the sheet of paper is laminated onto the actual cardboard, and then, it’s cut into shape.

In the cannabis industry, custom printed and sized cardboard boxes are the most popular choice because they give companies a way to show off their branding.

For example, the image below shows a 1-color RCD printed box that New World Packaging produced for a cannabis brand.

Again, printing options are limited with a cardboard box. For example, you can’t deboss or emboss on cardboard. And of course, the more customizations and options you choose, the more expensive the box will cost. Talk to us to see what’s doable and meets your budget.

Custom Box Cannabis Packaging Decisions and Tips

Developing new packaging, particularly custom boxes, requires an investment in time and money to get it right. You don’t want to develop a package, launch it to the market, realize it doesn’t work well in the real world, and have to completely redesign. 

Following are several important considerations you should think about in the earliest stages of the custom box development and design processes:


Every product package serves one or more purposes. What is the purpose of your cannabis product’s packaging? For example, cannabis packaging should protect the product inside the box from damage as well as from children and the elements, such as the sun, rain, and so on.


The cannabis marketplace is filled with many different types of consumers. Which consumers are the target audience for your product? Your custom boxes should appeal to that audience. New Frontier Data’s Cannabis Consumers in America – Part 3: Identifying Key Archetypes report provides a wealth of information about today’s cannabis consumers, so you can create custom box package designs that appeal to your target audience/archetype.


Talk to your cannabis packaging provider to learn about the many options available to make your packaging more unique, affordable, functional, and adaptable. For example, you can use stickers, inserts, or embellishments to add eye-catching or functional elements. You could also use sustainable packaging to show consumers your brand is eco-conscious and your packaging is environmentally-friendly. 


Custom boxes don’t have to be very expensive to give your brand and products a unique look and customer experience. This is an area where it’s extremely important to work with an experienced packaging provider that has multiple sources and strong, well-established relationships with suppliers. A packaging company that fits this description can help you come up with a great design and secure the best material, manufacturing, storage, and shipping deals for you.


Every state has its own laws related to cannabis packaging, so your options for custom designs may be limited. Make sure you understand your state’s current rules and work with your packaging designer to create a unique custom box design within the state’s requirements. Importantly, cannabis industry laws can change at a moment’s notice, so make sure your custom box designs are flexible and can change as the industry changes.

Your Next Steps to Develop Custom Box Cannabis Packaging

Choose a cannabis packaging provider that can work with you to design and produce the perfect custom boxes for your brand and business goals. There are so many options available to stand out from your competitors with a great-looking, functional, purposeful and affordable custom box. Contact New World Packaging to ask questions and find the perfect solution for your brand and products.

Want to learn more about cannabis
packaging, custom design, and supply
chain logistics?

Let's Chat