Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Packing and Packaging 

It is very easy to see why these two words can be confused.  Firstly, they start the same way with the root word being pack.  They are used in the same context and that is with the process of wrapping products and the people who work in this industry can either be packing items or packaging their goods.

Packing and packaging are a big part of the retail and shipping world but also find their way into the domestic environment.  How does one tell the difference between these very similar concepts?  There is a subtle difference perhaps in the function of the word in context.

Packing provides the protective wrapping of goods and packaging the display element as well as the protective wrapping.  A closer look at each word and its functions will lend a hand to understanding the difference between the two and their meaning. There is a slight difference in the use of the word as an action and the use of the word as an object to be used. Packing and packaging are both materials used to pack with, but their functions differ in some circumstances.


Difference Between Packing and Packaging 

What is packing?

Packing can be several things.

  • Packing is the material used to pack and protect goods in a container especially in the shipping world.
  • Packing is the act carried out by a person or machinery to pack items for delivery.  A person can also pack clothes and other goods for a holiday or moving to a new house.
  • Packing is used in medical situations when haemorrhaging can be stopped by packing the wound with gauze or other surgical materials.
  • In the packing industry there are products like ‘packing tape’ that assist with the process of packing.  Packing boxes and packing trays and pallets are also used.
  • Packing refers to the process of packing certain products like meat, fruit and vegetables, ready for future sales in the food industry.
  • Packing provides the pressure required round the cylinder in the printing industry.
  • Packing prepares a product for storage and a packing unit fits into a shipping container ready to hold a standard size quantity of product.
  • Packing is the act of packaging or preparing a product to be delivered, stored or sold. Packing takes place to protect goods with packing or cushioning for protection.


Difference Between Packing and Packaging 

What is packaging?

Packaging is not quite the same as packing but the two do go hand in hand sometimes.

  • Packaging can also be used to protect products as they are being transported and packaging will take place before packing the items into containers for shipping.
  • Packaging is used to present goods in an appealing way to attract customers.  Goods that are in eye catching packaging often sell better than the goods that are not in beautiful packaging.
  • Packaging can have specific purposes like sealing goods with other forms of protection.  There are various products that are used for this kind of protective packaging like bubble wrap, corrugated card, shredded paper and foam cushioning.
  • Packaging is also the process of preparing goods to be wrapped ready for shipping or other forms of transportation.
  • Packaging is a specialised industry involving protection of goods and advertising of their value through clever marketing tools.  Special packaging will consider the size of the container and the needs of the contents for its protection.
  • Packaging will take place in the factory before delivery to the shipping container for the packing process.
  • The function of packaging is to contain the goods, protect or preserve them and ultimately to present them for the retail market.

What is the process behind packing and packaging and how do they differ?

Understanding this process would be helpful in creating an understanding of the two words and their place in the environment of shipping and road or rail transport.

Packaging is organised in two different ways.  There is primary packaging and secondary packaging.  Primary packaging is the packaging of the product that the retailer uses to market the goods.  Primary packaging is the first stage of the packing process.  Ultimately this will be the packaging seen on the retailer’s shelves.  The primary packaging will have the logo and the information about the product that the retailer wishes to show to the customers.  The primary packaging is a vital part of product purchase decision making and when the retailer receives the goods the branded, well designed package will make a difference.  Consumers are attracted to colourful packaging supporting the name brands they want to see.  The well-designed packaging is also helpful in self-service scenarios as the packaging will provide information that assists the customer to know the product without having anyone to help with his choice.

The secondary packaging provides the packing just to transport the goods to their destination.  The secondary packaging goes over the product to protect the product while it is in transit or in storage.  It is the protective wrapping and the means to keep the product safe, water tight and protected from being buffed or knocked by other products during transportation. The act of loading the goods into the container or transport vehicle is the packing of the goods that are now packaged and ready to be delivered.  This is how packing and packaging work together to enable goods to be transported.  Their functions are similar but not the same

Primary packaging will be unique to each product according to the manufacturers design and style of packaging. It is the primary packaging that sells the product.  Many companies have skilfully developed their primary packaging to attract customers and build up a visual relationship with them.  The sight and colours of certain products have a subconscious effect on the consumers.  This branding or packaging sets packaging apart from packing.

If secondary packaging is mainly about packing the goods correctly and ensuring they can be transported, then packing and packaging do perform the same function at that time.  People who are packing goods use packing and packaging materials so there is a common element there too. A person who packs and uses packing materials is a packer while a packager will use packaging.   It is through word use age and exposure to the language that these different nuances become apparent.

What would you say?

The man will be packing his car for a holiday or will he be packaging the car?

A visual image here lets one see the car being packed with suit cases and bags while the act of packaging would have the car wrapped up and ready to be loaded on a shipping container.

What would you say?

The girl will be packaging the gifts with pretty paper and a ribbon for the party or will she be packing the gifts for the party.

This sentence would assume the girl would package the gifts and label them to show them off as gifts for an occasion.  Packing them would mean putting them into a container to take to the party.

What would you say?

The supermarket will be packing the vegetables ready for the shelves or packaging the vegetables ready for the shelves?

In this case either word would fit the description of packing the goods for the shop or packaging them.  However, it probably would be right to assume that the packaging would involve the labelling, the logo and the wrapping.  The packing process may just be the act of getting the packets and setting them out in the designated area ready to be purchased.  The consumer will look at the packaging to assist the decision to purchase.  Packaging in this case ensures freshness of the product and packing sets the product out neatly for purchasing.

Is there a difference between the two words?  The chart below will compare their functions and hopefully can take any confusion and send it packing!

Comparison table to show the difference between Packing and Packaging

Packing VERSUS Packaging

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References :

[0]“What is packaging? definition and meaning.” BusinessDictionary.com, www.businessdictionary.com/definition/packaging.html. Retrieved Feb 19, 2018 

[1]Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/packing-moving-cardboard-carton-40916/

[2]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Packaging_Hager.JPG#/media/File:Packaging_Hager.JPG

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