There are three distinct levels of product packaging you should be familiar with, which are primary, secondary, and tertiary.  Each of these levels of packaging play an important role in protecting a product during shipping and storage. Let’s go over each level in detail, so you can easily tell the difference when it comes to creating your own packaging strategy.

Primary Packaging

Primary packaging refers to the materials that make direct physical contact with your product. This level of packaging is often called the retail or consumer packaging of an item.  Primary packaging serves two important purposes. The first is to provide ample protection for your product, whether that means keeping out moisture with barrier protection or cushioning against impact. The second purpose of primary packaging is usually to inform the customer and provide details about that product’s uses and features. This second purpose often allows us to classify product labels as primary packaging, such as the nutrition facts label often attached to food containers.

There are many examples of primary packaging you can explore, but two of the most common would have to be cans for beverages and pill blister packs. Both of these packaging items represent primary packaging as they are the direct materials containing the product. Pill blisters and cans are often put into other boxes or cartons to create bundles of products, which leads us to the next level of packaging below.

Secondary Packaging

Secondary packaging is another level of protection that is commonly used for protection, bundling, and marketing purposes. The secondary packaging of a product often combines multiple items together, such as the box that holds multiple cans of soda together in one convenient pack. The soda cans would be your primary packaging and the box that keeps them together is considered the secondary level of packaging.

Secondary packaging is visually enticing to help attract customers to your product. This level of packaging will typically be printed with high quality images, logos, and other branding material. The secondary packaging is what your customers see first when shopping in store, so it can make a huge difference in your sales numbers. The more attractive your secondary packaging, the more likely a customer is to buy your product. When a company decides to rebrand their packaging, it’s often the secondary packaging that gets the most attention.

Tertiary Packaging

Tertiary packaging is different from both primary and secondary packaging because it’s not usually seen by the end user. There is no need for visual appeal with tertiary packaging because its main goal is to provide protection during shipping and storage, although, some companies choose to use minimal marketing at this level. Tertiary packaging also provides a convenient way to move inventory quickly with easy handling. 

Tertiary packaging could be anything from a large box that combines smaller containers holding your products to a full pallet setup with corner board and stretch wrap keeping multiple products bundled together. This level of packaging should be optimized to combine products as tightly as possible and to provide all the protection the products will need during travel. Shipping and storage environments can present harsh conditions, so tertiary packaging is where you beef up your protection to make sure products make it to their final destination without a scratch.

Now that you have a full understanding of the three levels of packaging, you should be able to identify which materials you currently use are representative of each level. All three levels of packaging play an important role in protecting and presenting your products. Each one is equally important in your packaging strategy, so be sure you have the right materials today by browsing our online inventory of thousands of packaging products. From boxes to poly bags, we’ve got everything you need for your packaging operations, plus fast delivery to get your order there in no time.