Across Borders, How Your Packaging May Be Interpreted Differently in Another Country

By: phase1
January 15, 2018

In an increasingly globalized world, it’s critical for your company’s survival to pay close attention to your product marketing in different cultures. You don’t want to make a mistake similar to the costly error Kentucky Fried Chicken made when it launched restaurants in China in the 1980s, after all.

Long before it shortened its name to KFC to give the impression that its food is healthier than most people consider fried chicken to be, the food giant established locations in China using its catch-phrase, “finger-lickin’ good.” While that tagline still brings images of Colonel Sanders and tasty food to the minds of many Americans, it didn’t leave the same impressions in the minds of customers in China. That’s because the translated version of finger-lickin’ good means “eat your fingers off” in Chinese.

Packaging in Different Demographics

If you’re trying to figure out how to avoid packaging fails that are on par with KFC’s epic mistake, it’s important to understand that a person’s culture affects just everything about that individual. In other words, culture influences what a person believes, their values and how they perceive things, including your international company packaging and marketing messages.

Because culture affects so many things that people hold near and dear, it’s vital your cross-cultural marketing packages are specifically geared toward well-defined audiences that will respond to them the way you want them to. While there are other factors to consider as you develop your international company packaging, here are three key considerations you’ll want to keep in mind as you prepare to do product marketing in different cultures:

  • Colors and Symbols: The meaning of colors and symbols vary by culture. For example, Americans typically associate the color blue with calmness and trustworthiness, but blue is the color of mourning in Mexico. Additionally, U.S. citizens recognize a check mark as an indication that something is correct, but the same symbol represents a mistake or “no” in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Japan.
  • Consumer Behavior: Where someone lives influences their reaction to cross-cultural marketing packages and messages because of things such as their traditions, diet and climate. For instance, research shows that consumers who live in climates with higher temperatures often prefer brighter colors. It’s also important to understand that consumer behavior may vary widely within a single culture, so you may need to create packaging for different demographics within the same country or region.
  • Religion: Depending on where you want to launch a product, religion may be a big factor that determines how well or poorly consumers received your cross-cultural marketing packages. Some religions, particularly those affiliated with a country’s laws, may make it illegal or wildly inappropriate to use certain kinds of imagery in your packaging designs. They may also forbid advertising certain products during designated times of religious celebration as well.

Trust Phase 1 Prototypes

One of the most effective things you can do to see how people living in a given culture will respond to your international company packaging is to test it in focus groups made up of people who share the demographics of your target market. To test your product packaging, though, you’ll need to have prototypes you can show the consumers who participate in your focus groups so they can experience your product packages firsthand.

No matter how simple or complex your packaging is, we can make prototypes for you. Because we don’t require you to order a minimum number of prototypes, it’s possible to order even several different design options. That way, you can examine different packaging designs side by side.

To get a free quote for the prototypes you want to test, contact Phase 1 Prototypes today.



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