Packaging is the art, science and technology of protecting or enclosing goods for transport, storage, retail, use, and distribution. The term packaging therefore refers to the entire process of creating, designing, testing, and manufacturing packaging materials. It includes both the physical and technical aspects of packaging. As a part of this process, several manufacturing and design principles are applied. This is done to derive optimum performance from packaging systems while meeting various functional requirements. To meet these requirements, specialised packaging systems are designed.
The primary function of the packaging system is to provide a waterproof covering that is capable of preventing soil, moisture, or light from reaching the contents inside the container. This prevents damage to the merchandise and ensures quick and efficient distribution of the product within the retail or wholesale market. Packaging solutions can also include thermal protection or secondary protection that prevents damage due to extreme temperature conditions such as high temperature, cold, moist, or even flooding. Some packaging applications also provide protection against pests such as spoilage, airborne diseases, fungi, dust, debris, rodents, and molds.
In addition, packaging may also refer to the aesthetic aspect of the wrapping on which the goods are packaged. For example, attractive container boxes attract the customer. The attractive container box may be used to display the goods. Similarly, attractive packaging may be used to make the packaging material more visually appealing than its ordinary appearance. Moreover, attractive packaging may include labelling that helps customers identify the product.
The other major purpose of packaging is to ensure easy handling of the product. Consumers dislike opening and closing large packages. Packaging therefore makes the handling of the items easier by providing a smooth unbroken surface. Typically, a clear plastic sleeve is used to package medicines and other consumables. Alternatively, a clear plastic bag may be used to package other perishable items like dairy products, fish and poultry products, wheat and cereal grains, confectionary, etc.
The optimal design of packaging helps to make the most of the consumer’s awareness of the brand and packaging. Packaging designs can attract consumers. Therefore, a company should make use of appropriate packaging design that is eye-catching and attractive. Moreover, packaging material and the shape of the boxes can help to differentiate one brand from another brand. This helps in consumer attraction and increases the probability of making sales.
While packing perishable and sensitive items, special methods should be employed to reduce contamination of these items during transportation. For example, during shipping perishable food items, a plastic wrapping should not be used so that no liquid or vapor becomes uncontaminated. Similarly, during packaging for fragile and heavy objects, special packaging materials should be employed, for example, glass or plastic wraps. Packaging must be done in an environment free from dust, moisture, or airborne contamination. In order to achieve this, the packing process is usually done in an area with low levels of oxygen.
Proper and effective packaging helps to increase the shelf life of the products. Plastic packaging has been found out to have a very good effect on increasing the shelf life of the products. This effect has been measured at more than 20 different places across Europe. Furthermore, packaging also helps to protect the product from damage during storage.
Proper packaging does not only increase the chances of increased sales but it also helps the consumer to use the item longer. This is mainly because when the product inside is easy to use, consumers tend to buy it. Moreover, packaging makes the product safe for consumption. For instance, in food, if the packaging of the product is of a harmful nature, such as lead or pesticide, consumers may not consume it for long. Hence, packaging plays a vital role in consumer usage. Overall, the importance of product packaging in consumer usage cannot be ignored.