Understanding your packaging needs is no easy feat, never mind getting it right. The ideal packaging solutions will protect your products from the inside out, meet high sustainability standards in the materials used and the shipping required, and provide an amazing unboxing experience for the consumer, all while looking the part.

Luckily, we’re here to help you get started. Keep reading for everything you need to know about primary vs secondary packaging.

Primary Packaging

Primary packaging incorporates any material that comes into direct contact with your product - it’s the glass bottle that houses your favorite toner, the tube for your best moisturizer, or the jar of your go-to body scrub. This container will take up space in the consumer’s home and as such, is usually pretty important.

When it comes to primary packaging, 3 elements take priority:

  1. Safety: Primary packaging is almost always in constant contact with your product meaning it needs to be safe. Certain materials, like some plastics, can leach harmful chemicals, which can ultimately contaminate your product and potentially harm the consumer. Being aware of guidelines and regulations is essential to know what is and isn’t safe.
  2. Functionality: Primary packaging can also be necessary for correct usage of the product it holds. High-quality, user-friendly packaging is key to harnessing the long-term buying power of your consumers. (It might seem obvious, but there’s a good reason why dish soap isn’t sold in paper bags!)
  3. Aesthetics: Lastly, primary packaging is where much of your branding will take place. Everything from your choices in style and materials to your logo and label design affect consumer perception. Like safety and functionality, your packaging needs to be chosen with your branding in mind. For example, if your products are primarily used in-shower, consider choosing packaging that will accommodate waterproof branding.

Secondary Packaging

Secondary packaging is the box, bag, or container that houses your product as it’s sold to consumers. This container is usually disposed of after purchase or delivery and is necessary for shipping and protection. Secondary packaging is usually the first thing your consumer encounters and is just as important to the buying experience as primary packaging.

Keep these three factors in mind when considering secondary packaging:

  1. Protection: Secondary packaging won’t directly interact with your product, so there are fewer regulations about materials and processing. However, it is often the only barrier between your finished product and the outside world, meaning it needs to be able to take quite a beating. Make sure your secondary packaging is sturdy enough to withstand the journey from manufacturing to doorstep.
  2. Sustainability: While sustainability is important for all packaging, secondary packaging deserves special attention because it is often discarded first, meaning it has a short use-life. Because it’s used and discarded at a higher rate, using eco-friendly materials and encouraging recycling are essential.
  3. Consumer experience: Secondary packaging plays just as significant a role in the consumer experience as primary packaging does. Not only can the unboxing of a product enhance or diminish the product itself, but it’s also essential that the consumer gets what they paid for. This means products should find the consumer unharmed and as advertised. Ideal product packaging will offer protection and a hassle-free opening & disposal experience.

Primary and secondary packaging work together to influence the experience of your buyers. Choosing the right solutions for your products has the power to make or break your brand. Do your research, listen to the experts and you’re guaranteed to find the best solution for your needs.