What is the difference between consumer and industrial packaging?

packaging types

Types of packaging: primary, secondary and transport packaging

Okey! … but what is the difference between consumer and industrial packaging?

The types of packaging differ most from each other in terms of their intended use. It is not always easy to distinguish between packaging levels. However, if your company deals with the selling of goods, it is essential that you understand the different nature of consumer unit packs, multipacks, transport packaging and industrial packaging. With this article, we would like help and clarify the difference.

Primary or consumer packaging

This is the packaging, which is in direct contact with the goods. What is considered as primary packaging is always product-dependent. In the case of beer, this can be an aluminum can or a glass bottle. For toothpaste, it’s usually the cardboard box with the tube in it. Besides protection, its main function is to inform the consumer and make it attractive for them to purchase the product. Primary packaging is usually removed only before the product is used. It plays a key role in the distinction and identification of a brand.

Secondary or multipack packaging

It is mostly used to group and create store units of certain number of goods and to provide protection. It makes the process of storage, handling and registry easier. Its main objective is to deliver goods in bulk to the selling points. It can be removed from the products without changing their properties. In general, the consumer does not encounter secondary packaging, so it is best to focus on practicality rather than aesthetic/marketing functions. Examples of secondary packaging: six-fold shrink-wrapped (1.5-litre) mineral water; a multipack carton of 16 boxes of cereal.

Tertiary, or transport packaging

Significantly facilitates the safe transport of large and/or heavy loads. It usually incorporates several multipacks, but it can also protect a single item (for example, in the transport of industrial machinery). It is used not only to preserve the condition of the product but also that of the primary and secondary packaging. Adequate tensile strength is essential for full protection. Inner and outer packaging may fall into this category (= composite packaging). This type of packaging is almost never seen by the consumer. These include pallets on which bulk consignments are placed , the wooden boxes or the stretch film used to secure “the pile of boxes.”

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Types of packaging: consumer vs. industrial packaging

We may also group the types and systems of packaging from the point of view of the user of the product. From this aspect, we can distinguish between consumer and industrial packaging. In consumer (commercial) packaging, the factors of design, uniqueness and merchantability are important and that the product has that attractive first impression. In such cases, packaging is part of brand identity and, in order to promote sales, it is also an important marketing tool.

Industrial packaging has a totally different function. It must be firm and heavy-duty, should facilitate movement and storage and be able to protect the goods during transport from physical impacts and weather conditions. In case of industrial packaging, consumer packaging may fall short, and the focus is on production and logistics aspects. For example, this can be a sensitive car part that is shipped from the manufacturer to the assembly plant.

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