Wed 17 Nov 2021

What’s the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging? 

Depending on whether if you’re a hands-on small business owner or you work for a large corporation, you might not know much about the packaging process within your workplace. 

Packaging is one of the elements of a business which can be used to improve sustainability and reduce costs if it’s done right. If you’re wondering where to start, understanding the difference between primary, secondary and tertiary packaging is a good place to begin. 

What is primary packaging? 

Primary packaging is what your consumers see on a shelf, the recognisable packaging associated with your product. This type of packaging is directly touching your product and is used to increase sales and promote your brand.  Many brands will have multiple types of primary packaging depending on their choice of retailing, for example, packaging designed for in store doesn’t always work online – however, a smart financial decision is to design packaging which works on all platforms to save money by bulk ordering.  Often companies will choose to add extra primary packaging to their online goods, so they can be transported in a stylish way, for example, this box from Merwave contained boxed products, inside another blue box – both would be considered primary packaging as they are designed to increase sales. 

What about secondary packaging? 

Used to transport your products in bulk, secondary packaging is much less fun than primary packaging. Rather than focusing on selling your product, its job is to simply transport your products in a safe and compact way.  Secondary packaging can either be used to transport your goods to the retailer, in this case the design is usually not important or in e-commerce to send customers your product, typically using a mailer bag. 

Top tip – every touch point can encourage a sale, if you have the budget to jazz up your secondary packaging, who’s to say it’s a bad idea?! 

And finally, what the hell is tertiary packaging? 

If you think secondary packaging sounds boring, tertiary packaging isn’t the most fun. In basic terms, tertiary packaging is like secondary packaging to secondary packaging – does that make sense?  Tertiary packaging is used to transport mass amounts of stock at all different levels using minimal space to store the products. An example could be the wooden pallets you see in Costco. 

You may be wondering why it’s important to know the difference? 

Understanding the different types of packaging can significantly lower costs, increase turnaround time and allow you to make strategic decisions for your business. Once you have found what works for your company you can standardise this and reduce wastage. 

If you have any questions regarding the different types of packaging or how we can help you, email today with your enquiries. 

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