What is Packaging? Definition, Functions, Factors, Importance, Strategies, and Examples

What is Packaging?

Packaging is the process of providing a protective covering to a product through containers or wrappers. Its primary role is to safeguard products during handling, storage, and transportation.

Additionally, packaging serves as a means to convey crucial information like brand names, usage instructions, and expiration dates. Think of it as the “dress” for products.

In essence, a product alone is vulnerable and incomplete. Packaging is the art, science, and technology that completes it by creating a container. It offers a distinctive identity to the product, making it easily recognizable to consumers. Moreover, packaging has evolved beyond mere protection; it has become a powerful marketing tool.

Companies use creative designs and materials to make their products visually appealing, enhancing their desirability. Packaging not only ensures product safety but also promotes, identifies, and informs, influencing customers and contributing to the overall success of the product.

Functions of Packaging

Packaging is not just a wrapper that is put on the product. It is more than that, below are its eight key functions:


Packaging is like a sturdy shield for products. It guards them against physical damage, moisture, temperature, and other harsh conditions during their journey from the factory to your hands. Think of it as a suit of armor for your favorite products, ensuring they arrive safely and in perfect condition.


Just as we store food in the refrigerator to keep it fresh, packaging plays a similar role. It prolongs the life of products by shielding them from spoilage, decay, and contamination. This means your snacks remain crispy, and your cosmetics stay effective for longer.

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Ever looked at a package and instantly recognized your favorite brand? That’s the magic of packaging. It’s like a name tag for products, displaying vital information such as brand logos, product names, and essential details like ingredients or nutritional values. It helps you quickly spot what you’re looking for.


Packaging is all about making life easier. Whether it’s a resealable bag for your chips, a squeezable bottle for ketchup, or a well-designed box for your new gadget, it’s created to provide convenience. It’s like a user manual that guides you on how to open, use, and store your product without any hassle.


Packaging isn’t just functional; it’s also an advertising canvas. Eye-catching designs, vibrant colors, and enticing graphics all work together to attract your attention. It’s like a mini billboard on the shelf, silently whispering, “Pick me, I’m the best!”


Imagine buying medicine, and you’re not sure if it’s been tampered with. Packaging ensures that products remain untouched and secure. It’s like a seal of trust, letting you know that what’s inside is genuine and hasn’t been messed with.

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Packaging is a storyteller. It conveys essential information about the product – how to use it, what’s inside, and any potential risks. It’s like a book cover with a blurb that tells you what’s inside, so you can decide if it’s the right fit for you.

Environmental Responsibility

Modern packaging isn’t just about protecting products; it also focuses on protecting our planet. Many packages are designed to be eco-friendly, reducing waste and their impact on the environment. It’s like a green superhero cape, helping to save the Earth one package at a time.

Types of Packaging

The packaging in marketing can be categorized into four levels, they are:

Primary Packaging

Primary packaging is the packaging closest to the product itself, hugging it tightly. For instance, think of the wrapper around a candy bar or the bottle containing your favorite shampoo. Primary packaging is there to keep the product fresh, safe, and ready for you to use. It’s the friendly face you see first, providing all the necessary information and making the product easy to access.

Secondary Packaging

Secondary packaging is like a team of superheroes coming together to tackle a bigger mission. It’s all about gathering those primary packages and giving them extra strength. You’ll often find several smaller product containers snugly packed into a larger box like a bunch of action figures neatly stored in a collector’s case. Secondary packaging not only protects the individual products but also makes them more convenient for handling, shipping, and storing.

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Tertiary Packaging

Picture tertiary packaging as the ultimate fortress. It’s designed to withstand the toughest challenges, like long journeys and rough handling. This level of packaging involves using robust boxes or sturdy crates that can hold multiple secondary packages. It’s like a massive shipping container for your favorite superheroes, ensuring they reach their destination safe and sound. Tertiary packaging plays a crucial role in safeguarding products during transportation and distribution.

Ancillary Packaging

Ancillary packaging is the unsung hero, working behind the scenes to ensure everything stays in place and is clearly marked. It includes labels that provide essential information, tapes that seal the deal, and cushioning materials that keep products snug and secure. Think of it as the supportive sidekick, ensuring that the final packaged products are not only well-protected but also easily identifiable. Ancillary packaging adds that extra layer of reliability and convenience.

Features of Good Packaging

Good packaging includes the following key features:

  • Economical: Good packaging should be cost-effective, not adding unnecessary expenses to the product. It must strike a balance between quality and affordability.
  • Functional: Packaging should serve its purpose effectively, whether it’s protecting the product, making it easy to use, or aiding in distribution.
  • Communicative: Packaging must convey essential information about the product clearly and comprehensibly. This includes details like product name, usage instructions, and ingredients.
  • Attractive: An appealing package catches the consumer’s eye. It should reflect the product’s identity, making it more likely to be chosen.
  • Eco-Friendly: In today’s environmentally conscious world, sustainable and recyclable packaging materials are favored. They should minimize harm to the environment.

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Materials Used in Packaging

Let’s explore key materials used in packaging products:

  • Paperboard: Paperboard is like a superhero in the packaging world. It’s sturdy but flexible, making it great for boxes and cartons. Cereal boxes, shoeboxes, and board games rely on paperboard to keep their shape.
  • Glass: Glass packaging is like a protective shield for certain goods. It’s heavy but perfect for liquids like ketchup and perfumes. It also helps maintain the product’s taste and quality.
  • Plastic: Think of plastic as the chameleon of packaging. It can be molded into various shapes for things like water bottles, toy packaging, or even sandwich bags. It’s lightweight and durable.
  • Metal: Metal packaging is like armor for food and beverages. Canned beans, soda cans, and even your pet’s food cans rely on it. It keeps products fresh and safe from outside influences.
  • Cardboard: Cardboard is like a sturdy, trusty shield. It’s ideal for moving boxes, mail packages, and packaging with intricate designs. Plus, it’s recyclable, which is a big win for the environment.
  • Plastic Films: Plastic films are like the cling wrap you use in your kitchen. They’re great for wrapping fresh produce, and snacks, and even protecting your phone screen. They keep things fresh and protected.
  • Foam: Foam packaging is like a soft hug for fragile items. It cradles delicate products like electronics or glassware, shielding them from bumps and bruises during transport.
  • Metal Cans: Metal cans are like the vaults of the packaging world. They secure products like canned soups, vegetables, and even paint. They’re durable, airtight, and can withstand extreme conditions.

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Factors Affecting Packaging

There are several factors that affect product packaging, below are seven to mention:

  • Purpose of Packaging: The intended use of the packaging affects its design. Whether it’s for protection during transportation or eye-catching marketing on the store shelf, the packaging must align with its purpose.
  • Nature of Product: The characteristics of the product itself, such as size, shape, fragility, and perishability, play a crucial role in determining the type of packaging needed for safe storage and transport.
  • Distance: The distance a product needs to travel impacts the choice of packaging. Longer journeys may require more robust packaging to withstand handling, temperature changes, and potential damage.
  • Material Handling System: The method of moving products, whether manual or automated, influences packaging decisions. Automated systems can handle larger packages, while manual handling may require smaller, more manageable ones.
  • Product Sensitivity: Some products are sensitive to external factors like temperature, humidity, or light. Packaging must shield them from these influences to maintain quality.
  • Regulations and Compliance: Different regions and industries have specific packaging regulations, from labeling requirements to materials allowed. Adherence to these rules is essential for legal compliance.
  • Environmental Concerns: As sustainability becomes a priority, eco-friendly packaging choices are on the rise. Many consumers prefer products with minimal environmental impact, driving companies to consider eco-conscious packaging options.

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Importance of Packaging

Here are the 6 key importance of packaging in business:

  • Product Protection: Packaging shields products from damage and environmental factors, ensuring they reach consumers intact.
  • Information and Branding: It conveys essential product details and builds brand identity.
  • Extended Shelf Life: Packaging can prolong the life of perishable items by protecting them from external elements.
  • Convenience: Packaging enhances ease of handling, carrying, and storage, making products more consumer-friendly.
  • Marketing and Sales: Attractive packaging influences consumer choices, boosts sales, and distinguishes products from competitors.
  • Sustainability: Eco-friendly packaging options reduce environmental impact, appealing to environmentally conscious consumers and showcasing a commitment to responsible manufacturing.

Strategies and Examples of Packaging

Here are the five packaging strategies you can use to package your products:

Changing the Package

This strategy involves periodically updating or altering the packaging of a product. Companies may do this for various reasons, such as adapting to changing consumer preferences, modernizing their brand image, or addressing market shifts. Changing the package can help rekindle interest in a product, attract new customers, or reconnect with existing ones. For example, a cereal brand might introduce limited-edition packaging designs to coincide with seasonal themes or events, creating a sense of novelty and encouraging repeat purchases.

Packaging the Product Line

Consistency or diversity in packaging can be employed within a product line. Consistent packaging across product variants helps consumers recognize and trust the brand, making it easier to navigate various options. On the other hand, diverse packaging can be used when a brand offers different product categories with distinct packaging to clearly differentiate between them.

For instance, a snack company may use consistent packaging for its classic potato chips line while employing varied packaging for its premium organic snack line to cater to different target audiences.

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Reuse Packaging

This sustainable approach involves designing packaging that can be repurposed or reused by consumers. It aligns with the growing emphasis on environmental consciousness and reducing waste. For instance, beverage companies have introduced reusable water bottles, reducing single-use plastic waste while providing added value to consumers. Reuse packaging not only promotes eco-friendliness but can also contribute to brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.

Multiple Packages

Offering products in various package sizes and formats caters to diverse consumer preferences and budgets. This strategy provides flexibility and convenience for customers. For example, a coffee brand may offer its coffee beans in different-sized packages, from small 250g bags for occasional buyers to larger 1kg bags for frequent consumers. Multiple packaging options enable brands to capture a broader market share by accommodating varying consumer needs.

Custom Packaging

Tailoring packaging to specific promotions, events, or target audiences allows brands to create a personalized consumer experience. Custom packaging can help products stand out during holidays, special occasions, or promotional campaigns. For instance, a chocolate manufacturer may create custom Valentine’s Day packaging with romantic themes and colors to enhance the product’s appeal during that season.

By aligning packaging with specific events or audiences, companies can connect with consumers on a more personal and emotional level, potentially driving increased sales and brand loyalty.

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Package Vs. Packing Vs. Packaging

“Package,” “Packing,” and “Packaging” are interrelated terms in the realm of product preparation and distribution, but they have distinct roles and characteristics.

Package: A “package” is the final, consumer-facing presentation of a product. It’s the outermost layer that encases and safeguards the product during storage and handling. For instance, the box containing your new smartphone or the bag of snacks you buy at a store represents the package. Packages are essential for branding and marketing, as they prominently display product information, logos, and design elements.

Packing: “Packing” is the action of putting products into containers or packages. It encompasses the entire process of preparing items for distribution or storage. This includes tasks like filling bottles with beverages, sealing boxes, or arranging individual items within a larger carton. Effective packing ensures that products are securely placed and ready for transportation.

Packaging: “Packaging” is a broader concept that encompasses both the package itself and the associated design, technology, and materials used to enclose products. It involves strategically planning how a product will be presented and safeguarded throughout its journey from the manufacturer to the consumer. Packaging takes into account various factors such as aesthetics, safety, durability, and environmental impact. It’s a comprehensive approach to creating an attractive, functional, and sustainable covering for products.

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