If you own a business, you likely understand the importance of primary packaging. This is the packaging that encases and protects your product. It’s also the packaging that most prominently features your logo and other eye-catching visuals. What you may not know is that there are three levels of packaging in total—primary, secondary, and tertiary. Each of these levels plays an invaluable role in keeping your product safe during shipping, storage, and display. Learning about the differences between primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging can help you formulate the perfect packaging strategy for your business. Here’s what to know about the three levels of packaging.
Primary packaging, also known as retail or consumer packaging, is the kind of packaging that directly touches your product. It’s the bag and box of cereals, the transparent film over meat and fish, the flexible pouches of nuts or granola, and more. This type of packaging serves two main purposes: to protect your product and to make it look appealing on store shelves. It also serves a secondary purpose, which is to inform customers about the product. You can achieve this by including brief descriptions, instructions, or nutritional information on the packaging.
Once products receive their primary packaging, people pack them into boxes or crates to create bundles that make the products easy to store and ship in bulk. We often see this form of packaging in stores—think about the small paper crates for soup cans or the boxes that surround pill blisters. Because of this, they often feature appealing designs and the company’s logo. These crates and boxes get put together using automated packaging machinery. This can range from machines that pack the products into boxes to machines that cover them with stretch film for added protection.
The most important thing to know about the three levels of packaging is how they work together to keep your product safe. When your product is on store shelves, primary and secondary packaging protects it. But what protects your products during shipment and storage? The level you’re least likely to know about is tertiary packaging. You’ll rarely see it unless you’re a warehouse employee or the person in charge of the truck or boat transporting the goods. This type of packaging exists for the sole purpose of protecting products during storage and shipment. It makes use of pallets, corrugated pads, and stretch wrap to ensure the product stays safe against moisture, mold, insects, and anything else that could damage it.