Unless you work with packaging for a living, you might not know that there are levels of packaging that affect how products are packed and shipped. When you think about it, it makes sense, of course. Different packaging materials are used for different packaging purposes. But what exactly are these packaging levels called, and what do they do for the packing and shipping process?

There are 3 levels of packaging: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary. Let’s check them out, shall we?

 Primary Packaging

  • The packaging that most closely touches a product, often referred to as “retail packaging.”
  • Its main goals are to protect the product and inform or attract a customer.
  • What’s considered to be primary packaging depends on the product. For example, a pop can is primary packaging (because it’s the primary way to carry around soda), while a corrugated box containing a camera and its accessories is also primary packaging (because it’s the primary way to purchase it).

Secondary Packing

  • The packaging used to ship products already in primary packaging.
  • Its main goals are to protect products and provide branding during shipping.
  • It’s also used as display packaging in retail locations such as grocery stores.
  • Examples of secondary packaging include 12-packs of soda cans, the corrugated box that a half-dozen camera boxes ship in, and the display stand for a newly-released Blu-Ray movie.
  • As you can see, primary and secondary packaging sometimes overlap.
  • Secondary packaging can overlap with tertiary packaging as well.

Tertiary Packaging

  • The packaging used most often by warehouses to ship secondary packaging.
  • Its mail goal is to properly protect shipments during their time in transit.
  • Tertiary packaging is typically not seen by consumers.
  • Examples include the pallets that bulk shipments are placed on, corrugated pads used to separate layers of boxes and stretch wrap used to secure stacks of cartons.

So, why are the distinctions between levels of packaging so important?

Because packaging is important, no matter what packaging types you’re talking about. When you’re creating a packaging strategy, it’s important to consider how all 3 levels of packaging will impact your product’s survival. Primary packaging is critical for branding and protection on the shelves. Secondary packaging is critical for protection and branding during transit. How your packaging looks tells consumers a great deal about your product and your business. Everything from the logo to the shape, the size, and the colors are important.

Your packaging is an opportunity to personalize your product and help it stand out from the crowd. Packaging sends a strong message, so choose your packaging strategy carefully.

There are so many ways that a product can potentially be damaged—during shipping, during stocking at the store, and even while the customer is taking the product home. That’s why it’s critical to strike a balance between the levels of packaging to keep your product looking great and properly protected. The Packaging Company will help you achieve that goal.