top of page

Primary Packaging vs. Secondary Packaging

Tips to Find the Perfect Packaging Solution

Packaging serves multiple purposes! It protects your product from damage, extends the shelf life of food products, promotes your brand to consumers, and maximizes shelf presence. It’s not just about what the consumer sees and opens, but also how the product is transferred, stored, and placed.

That comes together in three parts: primary packaging, secondary packaging, and tertiary packaging. This blog will focus on the first two as they have a more direct influence on how the consumers perceive your products. Tertiary packaging is normally used for shipping large volumes of products.

Both primary and secondary packaging play a role in getting your product into consumers’ hands. Differences between primary and secondary packaging can be confusing but our blog this week lays it all out on the table for you!

Primary Packaging

Primary Packaging

Primary packaging is the first layer of protection for your product and the last piece of packaging that the consumer opens. It is almost always meant to remain on the package until the end user obtains the product, and is usually not removed until right before the product is used. Examples of primary packaging are a bag of potato chips, a juice box, a book of matches, or a wrapper that covers a bar of soap.

Another prime example would be an egg carton for eggs. In this case, primary packaging plays a vital part in extending shelf life and protects from damage. If it’s defective, the product is waste. Defective packaging can risk damaging fragile products or sending the wrong message to consumers about your brand’s quality.

There’s another element to consider with primary packing– branding. Primary packaging should be used as a marketing opportunity. The packaging should feature clear branding and messaging about what exactly the product is. It should feature the following qualities as they relate to branding:

Authenticity – Keep brand and packaging design consistent.

Versatility – Make the packaging adaptable and flexible to compensate for additional flavors or versions of the product.

Clarity – Keep the messaging simple and to the point.

It’s also important to think about sustainability when working with your packaging partner. The materials used for your primary packaging could also speak to your brand. For example, if you package ‘healthy-alternative’ or ‘green’ items, consider tree-free materials, such as sugarcane board or hemp. Although they change your creative options, both materials retain a natural appearance that advertises your sustainability and appeals to your customers. In total, your goal is to appeal to the consumer, while conveying exactly what’s inside.

Secondary Packaging

Secondary Packaging

Secondary packaging is the packaging used to ship products that are already in primary packaging. It is the exterior packaging of the primary packaging that groups packages and further protects or labels the product.The shipping box that holds the Advil bottle. The case that holds the Coke cans. The plastic wrap on a two-for-one deal. These are all examples of secondary packaging.

In this sense, secondary packaging serves a practical purpose. It organizes or stabilizes products to get them ready to ship. It also makes for easier and safe storage, so when it comes time for a manufacturer to ship off more units, you can trust they make it to consumers damage free. Secondary shipping is frequently not seen by the ultimate recipient of the product. To this end, the desired attributes in secondary packaging are more ones of utility than aesthetics or marketing. Secondary packaging should be tough enough to protect your item, yet easy enough to open so employees that are restocking the product on shelves, can access your product without damaging it.

Perfect Solution

There are a number of factors to consider in choosing the appropriate packaging solution. First, with regard to primary packaging, it’s important to consider how it will appear to the end user. Marketing is a huge part of a successful business, and your primary packaging is an excellent opportunity to make a good impression. Primary packaging is critical for branding and protection on the shelves

Secondary packaging needs to be both adequate to protect your product and economically feasible to ship. Consumers will quickly tire of using a product when a large portion of it must be discarded or is otherwise damaged due to faulty packaging. Not only is secondary packaging critical for protection, it’s also important for branding during transit. How your packaging looks tells consumers a great deal about your product and your business. Everything from the logo to the shape, the size, and the colors are important.


The right packaging partner will work with you to deliver well-designed packaging solutions that meets your goals. Every detail of the process is considered to optimize resources and instill peace of mind. GCB Solitons can ensure you'll be confident in your product—which in turn, will give your customers confidence in your product. To learn more, contact us today at (904) 263-2804 or sign up for a free consultation.


    bottom of page