We don’t always notice the strategy and practicality that goes into the packaging of items that we purchase on a regular basis. Not only does the packaging need to protect and hold the product, but it also needs to be designed with consideration to stackability on store shelves and brand representation for the manufacturer.
For their third mission, we asked our students to take a closer look at secondary packaging – the packaging that does not directly touch the product, but separates the primary packaging from the outermost shipping carton. They researched trends in secondary packaging and provided their perspectives on how those trends are driving the industry.
Here’s what they had to say:
Caroline: Retail Ready Packaging
Packaging is formed by layers, both physically and mechanically. A package is composed of some combination of materials, and once assembled, products and their packages are subject to a layered system consisting of unitization, palletization, handling, transport, and distribution. These processes are the reason products are readily available in multiple locations.
One layer in this system is secondary packaging. What is secondary packaging and what is its purpose? Secondary packaging is the second layer of packaging that isn’t in direct contact with the product. This layer is used for grouping various pre-packed products (product and primary package) as well as supplementing the primary package for both marketing and logistical purposes. Some common examples of the former include plastic crates, carboard boxes, cardboard cartons, plastic shrink wrap and other materials used to unitize products. An example for the other uses, marketing and logistics, is tube toothpaste and the box containing it. The box is used for branding and display, but it also aids with unitization and product stacking on shelves.
Secondary packaging should be considered in the overall package design because not only is it used for marketing, but it serves to protect both the product and the primary package. This aspect of the package needs to facilitate safe transportation of primary packed products and protect against hazards in the distribution environments so the primary package remains intact. Other factors that should be considered when creating secondary packaging include weight reduction, sustainability, bio-degradability, and self-display capabilities. Trends in secondary packaging revolve around these factors and reflect the interest of consumers. These include appealing to point of purchase, E-Commerce, and secondary displays for in-store promotions. Increased dependence on E-Commerce demands secondary packaging be sufficient to withstand transport and distribution hazards, and in-store displays provide additional branding at the point of purchase.
Secondary packaging must be considered just like the product and primary package are considered when determining production and manufacturing feasibility. Packaging operations are evolving and are part of developing supply chain integration in the industry. Supply chain integration references the merging of processing, manufacturing, and packaging to decrease downstream supply chain logistics costs. Primary and secondary packaging that is lightweight and mechanically assembled and handled results in decreased handling and transportation costs. Integration of primary and secondary packaging is a growing interest that would not only reduce costs but would greatly affect the manufacturing of products and their packaging systems.
Like many other aspects in packaging, new innovations are applied to secondary packaging. One example of such is the growing category of Retail Ready Packaging (RRP). RRP facilitates a smooth transition from handling to shelving by allowing for the secondary package to tear or transform, often into a carton-style tray, which allows for easier product placement in stores. This adaption to traditional packaging enhances both shelf appeal and supply chain efficiency all while addressing concerns about sustainability. Smart and innovative secondary packaging can go a long way for both a product and a company by protecting the product and reducing costs.
Kari: Putting Packaging to the Test
Secondary packaging provides an important role in the transport and protection of goods. Secondary packaging is a containment of the primary packaging, which is generally what you see on display in stores, and directly contains the product. Secondary packaging is becoming more widely used with online shopping and shipping straight to your door, leading more consumers to see this secondary layer.
It is important to consider the cost and the protection that secondary packaging can provide. Corrugate material is structurally strong for its light weight and low cost, making it a popular solution. Tape or adhesives are often used to secure the corrugate, which is important because secondary packaging usually deals with the most manual handling. Testing is super important for secondary packaging to ensure the packaging can hold up to the possible conditions it may face. There are many ways you can test the strength and durability of packaging. Some tests use samples of the materials and test their strength alone and other tests use the entire assembled package. I personally have practiced the vibration test, compression test, and drop test.
Now that secondary packaging is seen directly by consumers, more thought is being placed on it, thus evolving the market. Companies are putting their logos and other artwork on the corrugated boxes and tape that is being shipped out. With ideas of shipping via drone and other new innovations, the secondary packaging industry is improving and changing at a rapid rate.
Tristen: Driving Forces Behind Recent Secondary Packaging Innovation
Just as the primary package contains and is in direct contact with the product, the secondary packaging contains the primary packaging and is meant to protect the primary packaging and product during shipping and handling. Because the primary package is almost always meant to market and sell the product, while also protecting it, it’s important that the primary packaging is not damaged during transportation. The secondary packaging will often also group together many primary packaging units for efficient shipping.
Generally protecting, grouping, shipping, and storing have been the primary objectives of the secondary packaging, and these are the factors most considered during design and eventual production of the secondary package. According to a recent study by Clemson University and Rehrig Pacific Company however, branded secondary packaging can increase fixation and product view time by at least 40% and offers a major potential for increasing sales. This is often overlooked because of the secondary packages’ other functions, but I believe as brand image and presence become ever more vital in selling product at the retailer level, branding will be increasingly considered when designing secondary packaging.
A packages’ convenience to the retailer is just as critical as its ability to protect the product while reaching and selling itself to the customer. Within a retail space that is only growing more competitive and congested, it’s important that the secondary package can be stored effectively within a store and on shelves, which is why innovations in creative package design and efficiencies have been trending. Designing more effective perforations that minimize the need for other tools for opening, innovative stacking methods and displays, and other unique designs are driving the development of secondary packages that are more easily integrated into the retail space.
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Vamsikrishna Reddy, Junior Manager at Student Follow. “Primary and Second Packaging.” LinkedIn SlideShare. N.p., 28 Jan. 2010. Web. 17 Apr. 2017. <https://www.slideshare.net/vamsikrishnareddy57/primary-and-second-packaging>.
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