Packaging can be done in 3 parts; primary packaging, secondary packaging and tertiary packaging. The main functions of packaging are concerned with product identification, protection and promotion among others.
Table Of Contents
What is Packaging
Packaging can be defined as the designing and production of containers for a product. Packaging can also be an important and effective sales tool. For it to be effective, it must perform the functions of protection, ease of handling and storage. It is imperative that the packaging of any product is not deceptive.
Functions of Primary packaging
Primary packaging refers to the immediate packaging of a product. The main functions of primary packaging are to contain, protect and preserve. Primary packaging is meant for the end user.
This is one of the main functions of primary packaging. As soon as the product is complete it needs to be contained in a safe and appropriate package. Primary packaging is the first layer of packaging intended for the consumer. For example, a bottle of tomato sauce is used to contain the sauce soon after production is done, and a plastic pouch is used to contain cereal.
Another basic function of packaging is to protect the product and its contents. A product needs to be packaged to protect it from contamination, spoilage, leakage or breakage. In order to protect tomato sauce or cereal from dirt infestation, both products need to be packaged appropriately soon after production.
A third function of packaging is preservation. In order to increase the shelf life of perishable products such as tomato ketchup and cereal the products should be sealed and packaged. This is especially important for canned products where the purpose of canning is to preserve the contents of the product. Also, seasonal fluctuations in demand can be smoothed out by packaging.
- Facilitating the use of a Product
Facilitating the use of a product is also a function of packaging. Primary packaging makes it easy for the customer to handle and make use of the product, for example tubes for tooth paste and bottles for juice or cold drinks.
Making a product adaptable is also a function of packaging. The package should be of moderate size so that it can be stored and moved without compromising the product’s contents. Hence, the function of packaging is to improve shock protection and to reduce the damage caused by vibration, snagging or friction.
Functions of Secondary Packaging
Secondary packaging refers to the additional packaging given to a product normally to protect it. It is important for various reasons as explained below.
- Protection Of Primary Packaging
The function of secondary packaging is to protect the primary packaging. The common types of secondary packaging are cartons, trays, and film bubbles.
- Product and brand identification
The main function of secondary packaging is for branding and display. Normally, the level of packaging a consumer sees first is the secondary packaging, especially when it comes to pharmaceutical products. For example, vials normally come inside the carton, the secondary package. Since the customer sees the carton and not the vial the branding and information on the secondary package is crucial. Packaging ensures product identification. A brand of soap, snacks or detergent is identified by customers as a result of its packaging.
- Product Promotion
Product promotion is also an important packaging function in addition to brand or product identification. The colour schemes, designs, the material used, and the photographs are used to attract customers. That way packaging acts as a marketing and promotional tool.
- Status or prestige
Creating confidence and prestige about a product is also a function of packaging. By creatively packaging the product and making it attractive, consumers perceive the product as a superior brand among other products.
- Regulatory Information
An important packaging function is displaying regulatory information on the product. Certain products are required by law to contain such information. Unlike primary packaging, secondary packaging has more room for artwork, branding and mandatory regulatory information. Some products have regulatory information on their primary packages whilst some have that information on the secondary packages.
- Logistical Purposes
Another secondary packaging function is for logistical purposes. Goods need to be stored properly in boxes, trays and film bubbles so that they are moved from one location to another without damaging them. this is important especially for storage and transportation of beverages, food and cosmetics. Beer carrying packs and can packs are examples of secondary packaging.
- Product Density
Applying the right package on a product by selecting the appropriate package materials, design and shape that help in using limited space in the best way possible helps reduce product density. This function of packaging is essential when it comes to storage and transporting. A product that is packaged in a way that is easy to store and doesn’t carry too much weight is cheaper to store and can be transported with ease.
- Waste reduction
Packaging reduces waste especially in the case of food distribution.
This packaging is mainly used for the transportation, protection and handling of products. Products are grouped into one unit in order to be distributed. This type of packaging is hardly seen by the consumer.
Other Functions of Packaging
- Health and sanitisation (Packaging has helped in raising standards of living through improved sanitisation.)
- Self service outlets (another packaging function is playing the role of a silent salesman at self service outlets)
- Innovation (due to innovation the functions of packaging have improved especially in the field of medicine, soft drinks and milk, for example, pasteurised milk comes in packs which can be stored for more than a day.)
- Product differentiation (In addition to product identification, packaging helps in product differentiation. The packaging of products helps customers assess their quality and compare the products to other competitors.
Good Features of Packaging
As indicated earlier, the functions of packaging must ensure that the product is secure and protected. In addition, the functions of packaging must also ensure convenience. There must be various sizes to choose from. The packaged product should not be too heavy or too large. The package’s script should be clear enough to read and the colours should be harmonious. The transporters, wholesalers must not struggle when moving the packages and customers must recognise the product with ease.