While buying a new product, the first things we often notice are its packaging and labeling. Many products require a proper packaging so that they can be properly covered and protected from contamination or damage. Labeling is mostly done on the package and includes all basic information about the product that a sensible customer would want to know before making a purchase. Brand names, tag lines, designs, symbols and images printed on the product boxes and wrappers etc. are all part of the labeling.

This article will discuss how packaging and labeling are different from one another in more detail. For this, it is important to first present the definitions and objectives of each process and then discuss the differences between the two.

Definitions and meanings


Packaging refers to the various activities that are carried out for designing and developing a suitable package for a product, which may be in the form of a container, wrapper, box, tube, plastic bottle, tetra pack or tin etc. The packaging must be properly and solidly done so that it can protect the product from contamination, leakage, evaporation, spoilage or damage during its storage, transportation and promotional activities.

Packaging is more than just a container prepared to be filled by a product; it includes every aspect of a complete product package that establishes the identity of the product and the manufacturing entity with which it is associated. It includes the overall design, look and feel of the package in which the product is to be put and presented for sale in the market. Hence, it serves as a means of advertisement and promotion by creating brand identity and awareness. In case of a shampoo bottle, for example, packaging is concerned with the materials used to build and shape the bottle, the color of the bottle and the places specified for different parts of labeling etc.

Packaging is an important part of companies’ overall marketing efforts because an attractive and high quality packaging presents a favorable impression of the product inside the package, wins customer’s trust and can positively influence his or her purchase decision.


Labeling is done on the product packaging and presents all important information about the product and its manufacturer. It is often made part of the product package but, if necessary, the information can also be printed on the product itself.

Labeling helps manufacturers communicate the product details to their customers who can use this information to perform a comparison with similar products and then decide their preferred product to buy. For example, labeling presents information about the content in the package (i.e., the actual product including accessories etc.), features, price, name of manufacturer, date of production, expiry date, weight, usage instructions and suggestions regarding storing or disposing of the product etc. All this information enables the customer to decide whether or not the product inside the package can meet his or her needs.

Labeling must also comply with certain legal requirements of the jurisdictions in which the product is being sold. Many countries have regulatory bodies that consistently develop policies requiring companies and manufacturers to present certain information as the part of their product labeling. Companies and manufacturers are, therefore, responsible for adhering to all the labeling requirements imposed by their regulatory authorities. For example, in most countries, the labeling of food products should include the different amounts of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, sugar and calories values for a given serving. In addition, they need to specify whether a product contains any ingredient that some people may be allergic to; for example, peanuts, soybeans, lactose, etc.

Difference between packaging and labeling

The four main points of difference between packaging and labeling are listed below:

1. Meaning

Packaging refers to the process of designing and developing a suitable package for enclosing and holding the product so that it can be easily covered and secured. In contrast, labeling refers to the text, design, symbol, logo, instructions and suggestions for usage etc. that are printed on the package of the product with the aim of informing as well as attracting customers.

2. Objective

The prime objective of packaging is to wrap a product in any kind of packaging so as to keep the product in a single place, prevent it from any kind of damage or contamination, make it attractive and appealing and keep it new and fresh till it reaches the final consumer. The key function of labeling, however, is to inform and educate the potential customers. Labeling provides all necessary information about the product to customers in accordance with the legal requirements of the given geographical location in which the product in question is marketed, sold and used.

3. Focus

The focus of packaging is on the way the product is presented to the customers, i.e. it concentrates on the appearance and first impression of the product. On the contrary, labeling focuses on the product description that the customers often want to know. It concentrates on the information that is to be presented on the packaging of the product.

4. Design

Since packaging is a vital tool of marketing and has a significant role in developing brand image, marketers try to create an innovative and attractive design for the packaging of their products. Their aim is to make the package appealing for customers so as to persuade them to buy their product. However, a label is typically designed in a simple and formal manner as its main objective is to clearly present information about the product to the customers.

Tabular comparison – packaging vs labeling

A tabular comparison of packaging and labeling is presented below:

Packaging vs Labeling
An art of developing an appropriate package for wrapping or enclosing the product to keep it safe from contamination and damage and to facilitate its storage, transportation and usage. Educating customers to help them in making a buying decision. In addition, it is done to fulfill legal requirements.
Store, protect, preserve the product and create brand identity Communicate with customers
Product presentation Product description
Innovative and attractive Simple and formal

Conclusion – packaging vs labeling

Packaging and labeling are significant marketing tools that help customers in their decision-making process. Companies spend a lot of money on their packaging because it is the first point of contact for customers. Companies try to design appealing and innovative packaging so that customers are drawn towards it. Labeling is a part of packaging and is concerned with presenting all the important information about the product to the customer. When both of these processes are performed correctly, they are going to lead to increased sales and profit.