Primary Packaging Vs Secondary Packaging

If your business manufactures or develops products of any kind, packaging choices are an essential ingredient in the recipe for success. To achieve the best results, you must learn to master both primary packaging and secondary packaging. 

Research shows that over 70% of modern consumers admit that their purchasing decisions are influenced by packaging designs and there is no doubt that it forms a significant part of the customer experience, not least because it is the first feature that they interact with.

The right items will protect items from damage, extend the lifespan of perishable goods, and promote easy storage. So, what are the differences between primary packaging and secondary packaging? Here’s all you need to know.

What is primary packaging?

Primary packaging is essentially the first layer of packaging surrounding a product and, therefore, usually the last piece that a consumer will open. 

It can serve a wide range of purposes. Firstly, it can protect the item inside the packaging. Secondly, it prolongs the shelf life of many items by creating an agreeable environment. In the case of child-resistant packaging, it additionally stops youngsters from gaining access to potentially harmful items. 

Primary packaging normally stays on the product until the consumer is ready to begin using the product. In many cases, the items can be reclosed or resealed. For example, a lid can be replaced on a food item. However, there are also many situations where the primary packaging is discarded (or hopefully recycled) as soon as the user opens the product.

Some examples of primary packaging include crisp packets, wine bottles, and egg boxes. However, primary packaging isn’t only used for foods and beverages. They can be used to store shoes, toys, beauty products, and more. 

Primary packaging can be made from a wide range of materials. While some companies handle this part of their ventures through in-house methods, it is most commonly outsourced to experts.


What to look for in primary packaging

In many ways, primary packaging is the most important aspect to get right. After all, it is the packaging that is likely to sit on the shelf and be the last thing that a customer interacts with before getting their hands on the product itself. Up to 80% of consumers won’t return to a brand that gets this element wrong, which is why you must consider all key features.

Crucially, this is a branding opportunity. Primary packaging should be authentic and versatile (so that it can be adapted for different products in a similar range) while also eye-catching enough to stand out on the shelf. Colour schemes and imagery will play a vital role, although brands must be sure to satisfy the requirements to present relevant information or QR codes.

From a business perspective, it’s vital that the primary packaging choices are cost-effective while also providing the right level of protection to reduce the threat of damaged or spoiled goods.

What is secondary packaging?

Secondary packaging is the second layer of protection and is often used to store multiple products that are already safely protected by their primary packaging materials. 

This type of packaging could be used for multipack grouping, such as the cardboard box used to store 24 individual cans of cola. Or it could be used to group individually sold items, such as a crisp box that sits on the shelf of a newsagent. In either case, it is a secondary form of protection that prevents any damage to the primary packaging,

Secondary packaging isn’t limited to the food and beverage industry. It is often used for small electronic gadgets. Meanwhile, it is often used by the subscription box industry, which is growing at 18.7% per year, as a way to present a selection of products that have been individually wrapped or bagged. 

The packaging will, therefore, play an important role in transportation, storage, and branding. However, it should not be confused with tertiary packaging, which is used when transporting large volumes of goods. 


What to look for in secondary packaging

Secondary packaging will often need to carry relevant information in the same way that primary packaging does while simultaneously stating what is actually inside the package itself. 

When it’s a customer-facing item, you’ll want it to look good too. After all, it is something that they will see even before the primary packaging, which means it sets the tone for the customer experience. Therefore, working with an innovative packaging design company is highly advised.

Primary and secondary packaging should work together to protect items, deliver convenience for companies, and promote a better customer experience.