What Are the Different Types of Packaging Materials?

Do you understand the differences between primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging?

Choosing the proper type of packaging is one of the most important things to think about during this time.

 Packaging refers to the act of covering a product to protect it from damage, leak, dust, pollution, and contamination.

 Chocolates wrapped in thin sheets, milk packaged in sachets, and so forth are examples.

Packing entails placing all of the items in a large box, container, chest, crate, or other containers.

The types of packaging will be discussed in this blog.

Table of Content

Chapter 1: What is Packaging?

Chapter 2: Factors Affecting Packaging

Chapter 3: Packaging Types to Consider

Chapter 4: Primary, secondary, and Tertiary Packaging: What’s The Difference?

Chapter 5: Frequently Ask Questions About Packaging

Chapter 1: What is Packaging?

What Are the Different Types of Packaging

The first thing that a consumer sees before buying a product is its packaging. 70% of the consumers’ impression of a brand is based only on the packaging of its product.

Packaging is designing a covering or wrapper of a product to prevent it from environmental damages and other harms during its shipping/ transportation.

Another important aspect of packaging is that it tells about the nutritional value and information about product handling.

A customer can see the ingredients that the product is made up of and the nutrients it provides.

A good packaging design attracts people more. According to a report, $ 150 billion are spent by the manufacturer on the packaging.

Another survey conducted by Ipsos says, 72% of Americans’ decision of buying a product depends on the packaging design.

 It shows that product packaging has an eminent role in generating revenues for a business.

1. Characteristics of Good Packaging

Packaging can make or break a customer’s interest in buying a product. Suppose you bought a product from a shop but before reaching home it got leaked.

Upon investigating you found out that the packaging was not leak-proof. Would you ever buy the same product with the same packaging?

 You’ll not. In fact, you’ll not but any other product is the same packaging type. Therefore, the packaging should be decent and reliable.

It plays a key role in generating sales. Here are some of the characteristics of good packaging.

  •  Labeling

Labeling a product is important. Labels on packages give information about the product like several individual pieces, instructions to use or cook, expiry date, ingredients or materials used, and nutritional table (in case of food).

If a product needs special care, it is also mentioned on the product packaging. Moreover, the labeling should be done honestly and product transparency should not be compromised.

 It helps in winning a customer’s trust. A survey says that 74% of the people buy products from those brands that show honesty and transparency while labeling the product.

  • Opening

The opening depends upon the product and packaging type. If the company offers to test a product before buying, its packaging should be easy to open and close.

Some products can’t be tested before buying like frozen food. In such cases, it should be ensured that their seal is not broken. Otherwise, the customers will not buy the product.

Similarly, bottled products like mineral water, beer, chemicals, etc. also have a sealed lid or cap. It can be opened only by the buyer while using it.

 Some products are packaged in corrugated or cardboard boxes.

They are sealed with plastic tape. Customers have to cut the tape to open the box. Apart from it, magnetic lid boxes are also in use.

They are easy to open and close just like perfume boxes.  So, opening a product should be an exciting thing for customers. It should not be a tiresome experience.

According to a survey, 35% of the consumers watch unboxing videos on the internet. 55% of them are convinced to buy the product. So, you see an exhilarating experience while unboxing or opening a product leaves a good impression on customers.

  • Size

Size matters a lot. It should be such that the product is easy to handle. Too heavy or too light, both type of packaging is not the customer’s choice.

 Heavy packaging will make it hard for him to carry the product. It will also cause extra transportation charges.

Similarly, too light packaging will make the customer doubtful about the authenticity of the product.

So, good packaging should be something in between the two. Moreover, when the packaging is small, less space is occupied by the product.

 It also reduces the use of materials which lessens the carbon footprint of the company.

  • Durability

Durability is the ability to withstand harsh conditions or stresses. Good packaging is more durable and withstands rough handling.

 It has to protect the product from damages, leaks, and other catastrophes. So, it is required to choose the packaging type after checking its durability.

2. Functions of Packaging

About 63% of the people are of the view that product packaging is as important as the brand itself.

Therefore, it should be appealing and attractive. If the physical appearance of a product is eye-catching, the customers will buy it more.

A report says that 30% of the businesses have reported more revenues by improving the product packaging.  Apart from it, it has other functions too.

  • Protection


Protecting the product is the prime function of packaging. During transportation, loading, unloading, and storage, there are chances of damage to the product.

Therefore, the product is packaged in a carton or a container to prevent it from any harm.

Packaging also keeps the product contaminant free.  Moreover, it also acts as a shield against sunlight, moisture, temperature, and other environmental stressors.

  • Unitize

Unitize means gathering a product in a single container. Many pieces of a single product can be crammed into a single packaging.

Like a crate of oil containing 6 packets or a crate of milk containing 8 or 12 boxes.

Handling an individual packet or a box is difficult. It requires more manpower and energy. But it is easy to handle them in a single corrugated box, cardboard, or a carton.

It will also save space, time, and money. The chances of product damage will also be less.

  • Convenience

Packaging makes it convenient to handle the product. Carrying the product becomes easy for the customer.

As already mentioned, some packaging contains more than one piece of a product.

 In such cases, if the customer buys the whole crate at once, it saves him from daily visits to the market. Moreover, it will be convenient to open or close, easily recycle, and stack.

  • Contain

Packaging also specifies the quantity of the product a package should contain.

The maximum limit of the product that a package can hold is written on it. Like many biscuits boxes have written on it “contains X number of packets”.

So, in this way, it gives buyers information about the quantity of the product. It also prevents the manufacturer from overstuffing.

Chapter 2: Factors Affecting Packaging


The packaging of a product is influenced by different factors like the purpose of packaging, nature of the product, distance, material handling system, and product sensitivity. All of them are discussed below in detail.

1. Purpose of packaging

Mostly packaging is done for two purposes.

  • Logistical purpose

It involves transporting the product from one point to another. For example, from point of production to the point of sale. Products are mostly in tertiary packaging.

  • Marketing/ advertising purpose:

Mostly primary packaging serves this purpose. In such cases, the packaging designer uses bright colors and unique designs to attract more customers.

For the logistical purposes, the packaging focus is on the safe and secure transport of the bulk product.

For marketing purposes, the priority is to sell more products. So, according to the purpose, the packaging type varies.

2. Nature of Product

Product packaging is highly dependent on the nature of the product. For liquids like juices, milk, mineral water, mobile oil, etc. cans, bottles, and tetra packs are preferred.

Solids like biscuits, electrical appliances pens, pencils, etc. are mostly packaged in cardboards, bubble sheets, jars, and plastic pouches.

 Some products like air fresheners, deodorants, and body sprays are in gaseous form. They are packaged in cans.

3. Distance

Distance directly depends on packaging. If the transportation distance is more, and the product is frangible, the packaging needs to be more secure, tough and multi-layered. But if the product is sturdy then the packaging can be flimsy.

4. Material Handling System

The material handling system is an important part of manufacturing firms.

Right from the raw materials to the distribution of the finished products, a material handling system is required.

It helps in the control, storage, protection, and transportation of raw materials as well as the finished products.

Different packaging types are used to fulfill this purpose. Most commonly corrugated cartons are used.  It makes dealing with bulk material a smooth chore.

5. Product Sensitivity

Some products are sensitive to heat, pressure, chemicals, moisture, etc. Keeping this in consideration, packaging types vary a lot.

Like for fragile products that cannot bear pressure, strong packaging is required.

First, a bubble sheet is wrapped around them. It is then followed by thermocol padding and finally packed in corrugated boxes.

Similarly, temperature-sensitive products are packaged in heat-resistance materials. This special packaging skyrockets packaging costs.

Chapter 3: Packaging Types to Consider

Chapter 3Packaging Types to Consider

With every passing day, new packaging types are entering the market. Supplying them to the manufacturing firms for packaging products is a new kind of business.

It has grown widely in developed countries because of more industrialization. According to a report, $ 500 billion is generated by the packaging industry globally.

This chapter will provide you 10 most commonly used packaging types along with their pros and cons. It will help you decide which type is the best match for your product.

1. Paperboard Boxes

A paperboard box is a single-layered foldable box. It is commonly used in food industries for packaging cereal, milk, juice, biscuits, etc.

The raw materials used for making paperboard are paper waste, wood pulp, straws, or a mixture of the three.

It is easy to rip that’s why used in primary packaging only.  It has a high graphics printing capability.

For additional protection of the product, secondary and tertiary packaging of paperboard boxes is done.

Pros Cons
  • They are light-weighted
  • They are reusable
  • They can be opened easily
  • They cannot withstand harsh weather
  • They are easy to tear

2. Corrugated Boxes

A Corrugated box is the strongest and the most widely used packaging material. It has a recovery rate of 90%. It is made of brown-colored craft paper.

The primary sources of corrugated boxes are pine trees. They are processed in packaging mills to form craft paper.

 It is further arranged in three layers (an outer layer, an inner layer, and a middle layer) to form corrugated boxes.

The middle layer is wavy and above and below it smooth sheets of craft papers are glued.

Food products like electronics, cosmetics; DVDs, etc. are packaged in it. It is mostly used to save and secure shipping of the product. For secondary and tertiary packaging, corrugated boxes are preferred.

Pros Cons
  • Like paper boxes, they are also light-weighted
  • They are recyclable
  • They are cheap
  • They are not weatherproof
  • Heavy materials cannot be packaged in it
  • They cannot be cut evenly because of multiple layers

3. Plastic Boxes

Plastic is widely used in the packaging industry. A report says that 40% of plastic usage is in the packaging industry. The reason is

  • The low production cost of plastic boxes and containers.
  • They produce fewer greenhouse gases
  • They are easy to handle and light-weighted.

The most common raw materials for plastic containers are polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), etc. They come in different shapes like bottles, pots, pails, bulk containers, trays, blister packaging, etc.


Pros Cons
  • They are highly durable
  • They are safe to use
  • They have high strength
  • The non-biodegradable plastic boxes cause environmental pollution
  • Most of them are heat sensitive
  • Very few plastics contain bisphenol A (BPA) which has a harmful impact on human health

4. Rigid Boxes

Rigid boxes are also known as set-up boxes. They are made of strong paperboard that is covered with decorated paper sheets, fabric, leather, or any other material.

Their thickness is 4X more than normal paperboard boxes. They are used for packaging luxury products like iPhones.

They are much thicker than normal folding cartons. They are pre-folded and it is difficult to create new folding because of their rigid nature. They are easy to open and re-seal.

They give an alluring and branded look to a product. Because of their elegant appearance, no one wants to throw them away once the product is finished or no more in use.

90% of the people use them for other purposes like organizing things on dressing tables.

The main purpose of rigid boxes is to give protection to the product it contains.

Apart from it, attracting people through the packaging to buy the product is also a reason companies opt for rigid boxes.

A report says that by the end of 2020-2030, the luxury rigid box market shall register the US $5.4 billion.

Pros Cons
  • They are much stronger than paperboard boxes
  • They give a branded look to your product
  • Some contain hidden magnets which hold the lid tightly
  • They are a bit expensive
  • You have to pay more shipping costs for such packages
  • Some rigid boxes cannot be recycled

5. Chipboard packaging

It is a packaging material that is made of recycled paper. Its thickness varies depending upon the layers of recycled paper.

The apparel boxes, gift boxes, folding cartons, and chipboard pads are some of the admirable uses of chipboard.

It is the preference of customers too. 71% of the consumers choose to buy a brand that uses paper or cardboard packaging.

Furthermore, chipboard packaging is used for support, safe packing, and transport of heavy and delicate items. Moreover, it also protects the product from contamination.

Pros Cons
  • Their production is 20% cheaper than corrugated boxes
  • They are eco-friendly
  • Their manufacturing process is quite simple
  • They are not moisture-proof
  • They are not long-lasting
  • It is not suitable for heavy materials

6. Poly Bags

According to research, worldwide one million poly bags are used every minute. They are plastic bags that are produced from polyethylene.

They are considered a good alternative to cardboard boxes because of a few reasons.

Pros Cons
  • Their production takes less time
  • They are good for bad weather
  • They are cost-effective
  • They are the cause of pollution
  • They have a low recycling rate.
  • Their degradation takes a lot of time

Usually, small and non-fragile items are packaged in it.

7. Foil Sealed Bags

Foil-sealed bags are shiny metalized bags. They are light-weighted and have protective properties.

They are used for packaging food, pharmaceuticals, wax beads, and other items. They are available as resealable zip-lock bags too.

Different e-commerce sites like Alibaba, AliExpress, etc. sell them in bulk form at cheap rates.  Foil sealed bags keep the poof items fresh and contaminant-free. They are resistant to moisture and sunlight.

As compared to poly bags, they have a long shelf life. Many companies have their own customized foil sealed bags.

 It is the ideal packaging for products with sharp edges like scissors. They are a perfect solution for corrosion resistance.

 An interesting thing about these bags is that they are available in all sizes.

Pros Cons
  • They have high antioxidant potential
  • They maintain the freshness of the food items
  • They are tear-resistant
  • They are expensive as compared to others
  • Many of the foil sealed bags are not see through
  • They can hold only a small volume of a product

8. Stretch Film

Stretch film is made up of linear low-density polyethylene. It has elastic nature. In tertiary packaging, cartons are wrapped with stretch film on the pallet.

Different types of stretch wraps are available in the market. Their functions and prices vary accordingly.

One type of stretch film is Ultraviolet inhibitor stretch film. It protects the outdoor products from UV light. Another type is blown stretch wrap. It is highly resistant to puncture.

Pros Cons
  •  It is more efficient
  • It is moisture resistant
  •  It has a high friction coefficient
  • The rolls are heavier
  • It can only be used for a large volume of product
  • It has a high shipping cost/roll

9. Shrink Film

Shrink film or shrink wrap is polymeric plastic. It is widely used by different industries and companies around the globe.

It is available in different formulations like polyethylene, polyvinyl, and polyolefin. Polyethylene shrink films are the most common ones.

Shrink films are used for packaging books, plastic bottles, and food boxes like spaghetti or macaroni, etc.

The product is wrapped in shrink film. The open ends are sealed with a heat sealer. A heat gun is moved all over the film.

 Due to its heat, the film shrinks over the product. They are transparent so the customers can see the product through it.

Pros Cons
  • It protects the product from dirt, moisture, and dust
  • It is difficult to puncture
  • It increases the product’s life by protecting it
  • Many films produce toxic fumes upon heating
  • As it is a plastic film so it requires a lot of time for degradation
  • Its application requires care because too much heat can create wrinkles. It becomes useless

10. Printed Shrink Film

Printed shrink film is similar to the shrink film discussed above. The only difference is that it has eye-catching graphics.

 In addition to that, it is more expensive than its transparent counterparts.

Printed shrink film has two types, polyolefin printed shrink film and polyethylene printed shrink film.

Pros Cons
  • It gives an alluring look to the product
  • It unitizes multiple packs
  • It advertises the product
  • It cannot be recycled
  • Polyolefin printed shrink film is expensive
  • It can only be used for a large volume of product

Chapter 4: Primary, secondary and Tertiary Packaging: What’s The Difference?

A packaging line has three levels. each level holds a different function as described below.

1. Primary Packaging

The primary packaging is the one that holds the product together inside a wrap. It is in direct contact with the product.

 It is also referred to as a consumer’s or retail unit. The plastic or glass bottle having a carbonated drink, let’s say your favorite Coca-Cola, in it is an example of primary packaging.

Similarly, a cardboard box containing uncooked spaghetti is also primary packaging.

In the pharmaceutical industry, blister-packed medicines or syrups in glass or plastic bottles are also considered primary packaging.

The chief purpose of primary packaging is to keep the product fresh (if it’s food) and to protect it from contaminants and environmental stressors.

Another important role of primary packaging is that it provides information about the product.

It has a nutritional table, manufacturing and expiry dates, ingredients, etc.

It is also used for brand awareness and marketing purposes. Moreover, the distinctive primary packaging makes the product outstand others.

2. Secondary Packaging

When individual bottles of Coca Cola are placed in a wooden or plastic case, it becomes secondary packaging.

 In this type of packaging, the products are collated to make their handling easier.

It protects the primary packaging as it is a covering over it. It makes the shipment of the product smooth.

Like primary packaging, some brands also use secondary packaging for marketing their product. They print the product information on it to gain customers attention.

In secondary packaging, a group of primary packaged products is placed together as one unit.

Therefore, it is called a stock-keeping unit (SKU).  Products are stored in warehouses in such packaging types.  It makes stacking more facile.

3. Tertiary Packaging

The packaging around several SKUs is called tertiary packaging. This type of packaging is also known as bulk packaging or transit packaging.

It is also referred to as a distribution unit. It is widely used in online and offline businesses for importing and exporting goods.

In that case, big containers are used to transport the bulk material.  It also protects the products from damage during transport and storage.

Chapter 5: Frequently Ask Questions About Packaging


1. What Is the Classification of Packaging?

The packaging is classified into three levels. The first one is primary packaging, then secondary packaging, and the last one is tertiary packaging.

In primary packaging, the product is directly in contact with the packaging material.

It is a box, bottle, or plastic pouch. Its primary purpose is to protect the product from contamination.

 It has informative labels for consumers. The products sold in shops are in this packaging. That is why it is also known as the customer’s unit.

In secondary packaging, a group of individual products in primary packaging is covered with cardboard, plastic containers, or any other material.

Its prime goal is to make product handling and storage easy. As it contains many products in a single carton, cardboard, or a container, it is also referred to as stock-keeping unit (SKU).

The packaging over secondary packaging is tertiary packaging. Several crates/ cartons (secondary packaging) when piled up and wrapped in a plastic sheet or any other material on a pallet, it is considered tertiary packaging.

 It makes the shipment of a large quantity of products trouble-free. It is also referred to as a distribution unit.

2. Is A Label Primary Packaging?

 A label is a part of primary packaging. Primary packaging mostly contains a product inside bottles, plastic pouches, cardboard boxes, etc. The information about the product is written on the packaging material.

 This information is a label. It gives information about ingredients, instruction to cook a product (if it’s food), precautionary measures, etc.

3. What Are the Different Methods of Packaging?

The packaging methods vary depending upon the packaging type and the products. For food preservation, aseptic techniques are used.

 In such techniques, the sterilized food is packaged in sterilized containers.

Other packaging methods include bottling, wrapping the product in cardboard or paper boxes, sealing the product inside a plastic film, bags or pouches, etc. are widely used by many companies.

4. What Are Packaging Products?

Packaging product is the way by which product exterior is designed. The intention behind it is to attract customers.

Companies hire a packaging designer for this purpose.  The wrapping materials, colors, graphics, and seal design all come under product packaging.

Good graphics, bright colors, unique seal design, and the packaging material impress the customers more than anything else.

A report says that 67% of American consumers prefer paper and cardboard-based packaging.

Another survey says that 71% of the people buy from brands using the two packaging types.

So, you need to choose the packaging material according to your product and customer’s preferences.


Product packaging is equally important as product quality. It includes everything ranging from packaging type to packaging design. Unique and branded packaging fascinates customers more.

The choice of appropriate packaging material depends upon the product type. But whatever the packaging type may be, its chief purpose is to protect the product.

It communicates with the customers to create brand and company awareness. That’s why; companies spent a handsome amount of money on packaging.