When shopping for packaging, people usually don’t consider all the different levels of packaging that are required in today’s modern retail marketplace. And as our buying habits continue to transform, packaging must also evolve in order to respond to these modern trends. One response in fairly recent years is to increase the levels of packaging in order to compete with rival products and appease demanding retail stores.
Packaging – The Old School Version
At the very minimum, a product usually requires at least two levels of packaging: the product’s primary packaging and its secondary or transportation packaging.
Primary packaging is your product’s main packaging; beyond this packaging lies the product itself; directly used by the consumer.
The secondary or “transportation packaging” is used to ship multiple units of the primary packaging.
A basic example of this would be: a bottle for ketchup (primary packaging) and a corrugated box that would hold 12 bottles of ketchup (secondary packaging). This corrugated box would be loaded on a truck and shipped to a retail store. The store clerk would then unload the secondary packaging (corrugated box) and place the primary packaging (ketchup bottles) on store shelves… “Gee Wilikers, Mr.Weaver!”
Modern Demands Have Increased the Levels of Packaging
With the dominance of the mega stores we can see the pressure to provide further levels of packaging is most prevalent.
Now display packaging has become a commonplace as a additional level of packaging.
Display packaging beautifully serves as both advertising and protection. Many retail stores favor (or even make mandatory) the inclusion of this display packaging. One of the main reasons for this (besides the extra marketing for the product itself) is the ease at which a store clerk can unload a pallet of product and place immediately on a shelf ready for purchase.
In fact, stores like Walmart love these. They call them PDQ (Pretty Darn Quick) displays and they have very strict and specific requirements for all their vendors to adhere to. They even have a guide booklet that they make all their vendors purchase – but don’t worry, it’s only $1000 (not kidding).
The following image is an example of a display box.
So far we’ve talked about 3 levels of packaging: the primary packaging, the display packaging and the transportation packaging.
Often, packaging can have 4 or more levels. An example of this would be a tube of tooth paste (primary level), in a folding carton (secondary level), housed in a display box (tertiary level) and then shipped in the fourth level of packaging which is, of course, its transportation packaging.
Below we see multiple corrugated boxes (transportation packaging) loaded on a pallet and “palletized”; meaning it is further wrapped in a make-shift box of its own, providing further support.
Here are other examples of protective and miscellaneous packaging.
- Jar lid shrink wrap – tamper prevention for primary level of packaging
- Multiple products wrapped together in plastic film – to sell as multi-pack
- Styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap – compression protection
- Inserts – product movement protection
Even though packaging has evolved and gotten more complex, it still serves only two purposes: to protect, and to advertise. There is no other reason for it to exist (except for a possible third reason; customers expect it to exist – but that’s a whole philosophical discussion in itself).
I hope this article helped to expand your view of what the whole of packaging can consist of. It can be quite complex and challenging keeping up with the ever changing demands of consumers and retail store owners.