Product packaging is more than just a means to encase a product. It ensures safe transportation, effective storage, and enhanced presentation of a product. From FMCG, cosmetics, garments, stationery, pharmaceutical or any other industry, packaging plays a key role in creating an impactful brand presence. It is the first point of contact between the product and the consumer.

A perfect product packaging design is aesthetically pleasing, and attractive and should influence positive purchase behavior. Today we delve into three types of packaging in product exhibits.

The three types of packaging include primary, secondary, and tertiary. Let us navigate through the layers of packaging and unravel the significance of primary packaging in direct product interaction, the role of secondary packaging in branding and marketing and the crucial functions of tertiary packaging in logistics. For this article, we will use an example of nail polish packaging manufactured by Globe Print N Pack to break down the layers of packaging of a product.

What is primary packaging?

Photo by Anna Shvets:

Primary packaging is the first layer of packaging that comes in direct contact with the product. It is the first layer between the product and its packaging. Primary packaging serves as a barrier that shields the product from external factors such as light, air, moisture, dust etc. Many companies selling physical products require some type of primary packaging for the product.

Primary packaging is designed for easy use and access to the product for the consumer. It ensures the durability, longevity, and storage of a product.

It prevents the product from breakage, leakage, and other external contaminants.

Primary packaging includes all the ingredients and other information about the product necessary for the consumer to make an informed purchase decision.

What are examples of primary packaging?

  • A wrapper that holds the candy or chocolate
  • A vial bottle that contains serums/oils.
  • A tube of toothpaste
  • An aluminum can of soda or soft drinks
  • A plastic bottle of water or other beverage
  • A glass bottle of wine etc.
  • A blister pack of stationery or medicines.

In our example, the bottle of nail polish is the primary packaging, as it is in direct contact and a dispenser of the product.

What is secondary packaging?

Photo by Magic Mind on Unsplash

The second layer of product packaging is used for branding and marketing purposes as well as the smooth transportation of the products. Secondary packaging surrounds the layer of primary packaging. It can also be used to group multiple packaging together for transportation or storage.

A secondary packaging design includes branding elements, artwork, product information and other promotional messages for attracting consumers. It is the packaging that the consumer will first interact with, this makes designing the secondary packaging a crucial element for branding and marketing.

What are examples of secondary packaging?

  • A mono-carton box for cereals, cookies, cosmetics, toothpaste, and other products
  • Gift boxes for wine bottles
  • Countertop units for promotional display
  • Shrink wraps for bottles and cans.

In our example, the paper box of nail polish will be the secondary packaging. The hang tab on the nail polish box is used to hang the boxes on the retail shelf hook for effective display purposes. Its eye-catching colours and design are sure to attract consumers. The window displays all the contents (i.e., 5 nail polishes in one set) of the product and makes an informed purchase decision.

Imagine if this nail polish bottle is directly placed in shipping boxes, they are most likely to break during transportation, hence a secondary packaging not only attracts the consumers but also protects the bottle from breaking.

What is tertiary packaging?

Tertiary packaging is the final layer of product packaging used for transportation and storing the products in bulk. Tertiary packaging is also known as shipping or transport packaging. These are in the form of corrugated carton boxes. It encompasses both primary and secondary packaging. It is designed to facilitate the transportation of the products from the manufacturer to the distributor, retailer, and end consumer. This packaging can also be found in the form of E-commerce shipping boxes.

Photo by RDNE Stock project:

What are examples of tertiary packaging?

  • Carton boxes are used for transportation and delivery of E-commerce shipments.
  • Corrugated carton boxes transportation of products from the manufacturing facility to the distributor to the retailer.
  • Crates and pallets that are used to stack the products for storage in warehouses.

In our example, a retailer will receive the toothpaste and nail polish boxes from the distributor in a corrugated carton box. He shall empty this box and place the secondary packaging of the product onto the shelves.

Let us summarize the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging.

Primary Packaging Secondary Packaging Tertiary Packaging
Primary packaging is in direct contact with the product. Secondary packaging is the layer of packaging that surrounds the primary packaging or individual product. Tertiary packaging encompasses both primary and secondary packaging.
The main purpose of primary packaging is to protect the product contents from external contaminants and easy usability for product consumption. The main purpose of secondary packaging is branding and marketing the product as it is the first point of contact between the consumer and the product. The main purpose of tertiary packaging is the storage and transportation of the product from the manufacturer, distributor to retailer.
Examples – Glass bottles, aluminium cans, plastic bottles, blister cards, cosmetic palettes, toothpaste, or cream tubes. Examples – cardboard and plastic boxes, gift boxes for promotional campaigns or PR Example – corrugated shipping boxes, crates, or trays for storage of products in the warehouse


The world of packaging is multifaceted, comprising three layers – primary, secondary, and tertiary. Each layer serves a distinct yet interconnected purpose, contributing to the seamless flow from manufacturer to consumer. Packaging remains a steadfast companion of the product ensuring that what is crafted with care, is delivered with precision, and received with delight.

Globe Print n Pack specializes in secondary packaging of FMCG, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, garments, stationery confectioneries, and other industries. We are leading manufacturers of plastic and paper packaging in India. We aim to deliver end-to-end, high-quality secondary packaging solutions under one roof. Contact us today to fulfill your printing and packaging requirements.