Many businesses today distribute their products in multiple countries and must, therefore, take into consideration the effect that other cultures will have on their packaging design. Aside from the obvious barrier, language, there are other factors that have an impact on the success of a package’s design when being distributed in more than one country.
In order to begin thinking about the importance of “globalization” in packaging design, I researched some amusing translation errors in advertising during the last century.
Wanting to know more about packaging trends in other countries, I began my research online. Although most of the information I was able to find applied to Asian marketing, I did find some other interesting facts.
According to International Fare, a project constructed from The Global Intelligence Agency in Chicago,  French consumers prefer “disruption.” Packages that are upside down or completely novel to the industry are most appealing to the French because of their mass product clutter. Conversely, Japanese consumers “love attention to detail.” International Fare gave the example of a juice box that included a straw and resealable opening in order to save the drink for later. Interestingly, Japanese marketers spend three times more on packaging than marketers in the United States. The article did not say if the costs were spent on preparation or packaging material.  Not surprisingly, it was noted that the Italians value sophistication and elegance in packaging design, especially in food products. The article mentioned a cracker package that was popular for its simple font and elegant photographs. In a different article, Melinda Creswick points out that in “EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), [packaging] trends [include]…reduced copy and an attempt to communicate things more iconically, so that language translations are less necessary from region to region.”
Because of all of this, there is a heated debate among American marketers. Many agree that a universal brand is desirable, but there are numerous marketers that argue that it is not realistic. Scott Lucas, executive director at Packaging Interbrand, recommends that “brands remain as consistent as possible internationally with some unique local elements built-in to their brand,” in order to find an effective balance. “Companies must understand a consumer’s entire experience with a product and how it differs in each area of the world,” adds executive creative director of Landor, Richard Westendorf.
Coca Cola is a great example of a successful balance between consistency and localization in brand packaging. First, in order to sustain their consistent branding image, the company uses the iconic red color, Spencerian script, and contour shapes in all of its packaging. The company then sends several versions of each package to regional design groups, allowing each culture to essentially choose the most appropriate package design.
In the midst of my research, I found an intriguing podcast entitled “Off The Shelf” on packagingworld.com. In the particular ‘episode’ included below, Dave Newcom discusses various Asian packaging designs found in Chinatown. To learn more about the differences between American and Asian packaging preferences, take a minute to listen to the podcast. As I mentioned before, Packaging World does require a username to view any content, but enrollment is free and easy.
OFF THE SHELF: More colorful Asian packs | Video | Packaging World
Also, if you are interested in gathering more research about package design and its effectiveness around the globe, become a member at Global Intelligence (www.gio.com).
Zentrale Intelligenz Agentur. (n.d.). Consumption & Packaging & Design Trends 2004 [PowerPointslides].
Retrieved from http://www.zentrale-intelligenz-agentur.de/docs/archiv/packaging.pdf
Ford, J. (2009, January 13). Global Design: Who’s Leading the Way? In Brand Packaging. Retrieved
     from BNP Media website: http://www.brandpackaging.com/Articles/Feature_Articles/
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Global Branding: Achieving Balance. (2008, November 10). Brand Packaging. Retrieved from BNP Media
     website: http://www.brandpackaging.com/Articles/Cover_Story/
     BNP_GUID_9-5-2006_A_10000000000000465637


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