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Peeling back the Layers of Packaging

The packaging industry is full of various sub-sectors, whether it’s the design aspect, materials, security, etc. But did you know the whole industry can be broken down into three different layers? In this industry, we refer to packaging in three levels, each of which have their own unique set of strategies and guidelines that affects how the product is packaged and transported.

Primary Packaging

Primary packaging is most easily described as the materials that come into direct contact with the product itself, often referred to as consumer packaging. This is the layer that the end users will see on the shelves and be able to feel and touch themselves, so it needs to be able to be handled. The main purpose of primary packaging is to protect and/or preserve, contain, and inform the consumer.

This level is the last line of defense against contaminants, harmful toxins, and product damage. In addition, primary packaging has the crucial task of relaying the company’s brand to the consumer. It’s used as a marketing and communication tool, responsible for conveying information to the buyer, and it’s the layer that will draw in your customers’ attention on the shelves. The type of packaging used depends on the kind of product inside. In examples such as the food industry, your primary packaging could be touching the food product itself, so other factors like sanitation could be imperative.

Secondary Packaging

Secondary packaging is packaging used for logistical purposes, protecting and collating individual units during storage. In other words, it’s the second layer of protection around a product. It could also be described as the packaging that unitizes multiple products for stocking or transportation purposes. Though not the only purpose, the key roles of secondary packaging are bundling, unitizing, and protection.

This level of packaging can also be consumer-facing. But wait…didn’t we just say that consumer-facing is primary packaging? It can get a bit tricky, but secondary packaging can actually work in many ways. Have you ever purchased a tube of toothpaste that was sold in a box? The tube in this scenario is your primary packaging, while the box the tube came in is your secondary packaging, both of which usually take on the marketing and communication role.

Tertiary Packaging

Tertiary packaging protects the secondary packaging, and though it is typically never seen by the end user, they’ll receive the benefits of the undamaged product. It is usually one that facilitates the protection, handling, and transportation of units, whether they be individual or bundled. It’s also used for bulk handling, warehouse storage, and/or transport shipping to get them from point A to point B without damage. This could include corrugated boxes (think a box inside a box!), crates, shrink wrapped pallets, and so on. At this stage, products are handled as distribution entities.

All three levels are valued and essential to a business and offer their own benefits to ensure your product makes it to the end user safely, securely, and having maintained its integrity. While some materials may fall under the umbrella of more than one level, at Wexler Packaging Products, we specialize in the outer two layers, that being, secondary and tertiary. Bundling and unitizing products is our bread and butter, but our trusted advisors can guide you in the right direction towards your perfect packaging solution.

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