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How to Adapt Your Product Packaging Design to the China Market?

by Terry 8 months ago in how to

Add some Chinese characteristics to product packaging designs aiming for the China market

Pepsi Packaging Design in China

With a population of over 1.4 billion and the booming economy, China's market surpassed Japan in market value in November 2014 to become the world's second-largest, according to the FT. For brands aspiring to enter the China market, you’d better learn how to adapt your product packaging to it.

You may already be aware of the importance of packaging in general term, but you should be prepared that it can be much more important here in China. Why? If you have been in China or have some Chinese connections, you may soon get to know the Chinese obsession of face-saving. Chinese attach great importance to face (somewhere between vanity and dignity). That's true to packaging – the "face" of products. Although in recent years, this country is deeply influenced by Western culture, however, the China China is still regarded as a "unique" in terms of product packaging.

Product Packaging's Basic Purposes

For any product packaging, it serves the following three main purposes – Basic Functions, Attraction and Differentiation. The basic functions of packaging are to protect the product or inner package from damage and give consumers basic information about the product. Packaging itself can also attract consumers to take a look at the product as it sits on store shelves as well as to differentiate the product of one brand from another. The quality of the product is not insufficient, so in many circumstances, it is the product packaging that determines a consumer's purchasing preference.

How to Adapt Your Product Packaging Design to the China Market?

A brand which aims to target the China market should consider the following factors if it is ready to create packaging for a product or planning to change the packaging of an existing product.

 Types of Packaging

Most retailing products in China come in rigid gift boxes to look more luxury and high-end. As some surveys show, there exists a severe excessive packaging trend in China. Almost all consumer goods are packaged in bulky setup boxes. It's not uncommon that the packaging even costs more than the content inside.

 Color

Choosing the right color palette for packaging is half the challenge for a brand. Basically, you can follow your graphic designers' instinct and talent. But when it comes to packaging for the China market, there are some cultural difference to accentuate.

In traditional Chinese culture, red symbolize good luck, while yellow and gold are seen as royal colors. It is important for brands to take account of these symbolic colors, but ultimately, the most crucial step is to choose a color which matches the properties of the product or the distinctive brand image. It is not always necessary to exploit a particular color, for example red, to package the product with a hint of Chinese essence in order to attract local consumers.

 Chinese Logo/Brand Names

Logo and brand names contain many important information, and are the major distinguishing identities of the brands. In the China markets, you need to design a localized Chinese logo/brand names that are easy to pronounce and remember. Some good examples include Cocacola (可口可乐) and Pepsi (百事可乐). Both their Chinese brand names sound natural and convey happiness. You hardly feel any hint of translationese-ness. Moreover, they are not digressing from the original brand connotations. Many successful foreign brands are so well-accepted by Chinese consumers that consumers even have no awareness that these are non-Chinese brands.

 Image, Pattern and Shapes

Visuals, in the form of image, pattern and shape, play a primary role in catching consumers' attention. Again, you need to include some Chinese elements in packaging for the China markets, especially, some of the quintessence of Chinese culture like Chinese knot, decoupage or Chinese lanterns, the red Chinese characters 'Double Happiness', etc.

Of course, it also depends on what are you going to pack and demographic segments which you're targeting. For example, more and more brands put cartoon designs on their product packaging such as candy boxes, to appeal to young consumers in China.

Final Words

The product itself is always the key factor, but packaging can largely impact its odds. As a nation with over 5000 years' civilization, Chinese consumers' way of thinking differ largely from the Westerners despite the deep globalization today. Thus, product packaging for the China market should be treated different. (Actually, this is true in many other foreign markets, as noted by Philip Kotler.) The solution is to include some Chinese cultural elements -- the Chinese characteristics, which requires good knowledge of and insight to the market and its culture.

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Read next: Why Denny's Is the Perfect Starter Job for a Cook

Digital marketing expert at PacZone, a professional manufacturer of custom plastic boxes.

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