The True Cost of Packaging

By |2018-03-14T08:08:52+00:00March 14th, 2018|Packaging Strategy|0 Comments

Packaging, in it’s purest definition, is a product.  It contains, protects, communicates, and so much more.

And just like your product, the packaging is an item that needs to be manufactured and assembled.  You could say that packaging is to a product, what clothing is to us.  But how do you measure the true cost of packaging?

According to Amelia Boothman, director at global branding agency 1HQ, “Typically, it costs far more to replace damaged goods than pay for adequate protective packaging from the outset. There will be a point when the cost of product damage equates to the cost of protective packaging – this is the ‘optimum’ packaging specification businesses should work to.”

So what is the cost of packaging?

Packaging is so much more than just a box, a roll of tape, stretch film, and a label.  Those are all ingredients that help to create the process, but when broken down, packaging becomes more of a journey and an experience.


Containment is the fundamental reason we buy packaging.  It is the material we purchase to hold our product.

Ironically enough, that definition doesn’t quite do the idea of “containment” justice. To better understand containment, you must understand both Primary and Secondary Packaging.

Primary Packaging and Secondary Packaging

  • Primary Packaging.  Primary packaging is the packaging consumers come in direct contact with, otherwise known as retail packaging.  The main goal of this packaging is to protect, contain, and inform the customer.  It is important that the packaging is consistent and user-friendly.  Take, for example,  a can or bottle of soda.  The bottle contains and protects the liquid held inside.  In addition, that can or bottle identifies, protects, and contains the liquid inside.  Primary packaging offers consumers their first initial impression of a product.
  • Secondary Packaging – The main goal of secondary packaging is for branding, display, and logistical purposes.  For this reason, secondary packaging refers to that packaging you’d see, for example, in a grocery store when more than one product is sold together.  To continue with our coke can example, the secondary packaging would be the corrugated box containing a typical 12 pack of soda. The focus is on shelf-readiness design, labeling, consumer needs, and resiliency.


The second idea associated with the true cost of packaging is that of the protection of the product – maintaining its integrity throughout transit.  Another name associated with this idea is our third type of packaging, known as Tertiary Packaging.

  • Tertiary Packaging – Tertiary packaging is any packaging that facilitates safe shipping and handling of a product(s).  So from this standpoint, now the price tag includes the cost-effective, efficient, productive, sustainable, oftentimes recyclable aspects of your product’s journey.

Packaging is a phenomenal platform to use to tell a story


How does one put a price tag on the importance of the communication your packaging relays to your customer?  Your packaging is your first and only chance at a good – great- impression.  It is your marketing and/or related customer experience all tied up into one cardboard box, or one flexible packaging unit.  It is your brand representation at work in full force.

Utility / Convenience

The utility and convenience aspect of packaging refers to more of the ergonomics of the packaging.  Ergonomics refers to the way your customers will open and interact with your product and its packaging.  There is so much to be said here about this aspect of the production process.  Packaging is a phenomenal platform to tell your product’s story.  It’s the platform to create a stellar user-friendly experience.  It’s all about consumer convenience.

Convenience might entail a fridge-ready carton for the cans to save space or a resealable bag for products that will be consumed over time.  It’s your brand representation.  Moreover, it is showing your customer what they need.  In some cases, it’s showing consumers what they didn’t even know they needed.

The Concluding Thoughts on the Cost of Packaging

So to answer your question – what is the cost of packaging – I’d answer it this way.  You’re paying for the creative and unique containment of your product, and it’s protection throughout transit.   In addition, you are paying for the way your product will be received by your consumer – meaning the experience they’re going to have as they unwrap or unbox your product for the first time.  And finally, you’re providing for and paying for the convenience and/or utility that product provides.

Packaging should be viewed as an investment, not an expense.

When you take each of those aspects into consideration, what price tag do you put on product protection, and customer loyalty?

It’s time to get it right. Most packaging companies today simply talk the talk and wait for your purchase order to roll in. They want to compete on nickels and dimes in a commodity-based marketplace. That’s not us.

We work hand-in-hand with companies that view their packaging as an investment. As your packaging needs change to meet market demands, so should the packaging company you work with. We’re here, and we’re ready to help you.

Now is the time. Call us today at 877-410-5564 and speak with a packaging specialist that is ready to work on your goals. Or, learn a little more about why we’re a good fit to help you reach your packaging goals, then fill out our simple form to get started.

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