Nearly all tangible products (i.e., goods) are sold to customers within a container or package that, as we will discuss, serves many purposes including protecting the product during shipment. In a few instances, such as with certain produce items, the final customer may purchase the product without a package but the produce marketer still faces packaging decisions when it comes to shipping its produce to others, such as resellers. Thus, for many products there are two packaging decisions:
Final Consumer Package
This relates to the package the final customer receives in exchange for their payment. When the final customer makes a purchase he or she is initially exposed to the Primary Package – the outermost container that is seen and touched by the final customer. This primary package can be further divided into the following:
- First-Level Package – This represents packaging that holds the actual product (e.g., Tylenol bottle holding tablets). In some cases, this packaging is minimal since it only serves to protect the product. For instance, certain frozen food products are sold to consumers in a cardboard box with the product itself contained in a plastic bag found inside the box. This plastic bag represents the first-level package. In other cases, frozen food products are sold to the final consumer only in plastic bags. In these cases, the plastic bag is both first-level package and the primary package for convey product information.
- Second-Level Package – For some products, the first-level package is surrounded by one or more outer packages (e.g., box holding the Tylenol bottle). This second-level package may act as the exterior package for the product.
- Package Inserts – Marketers use a variety of other methods to communicate with customers after they open the product package. These methods are often inserted within, or sometimes on, the product’s package. Insertions include product information, such as instruction manuals and warranty cards, promotional incentives, such as coupons, and items that add value such as recipes.
Distribution Channel Package
This packaging is used to transport the customer package through the supply chain. It generally holds multiple customer packages and also offers a higher level of damage protection than that of customer packaging. The most obvious examples are cardboard boxes and wooden crates. A single box or crate may contain a large number of customer packages.