East and West: packaging differences

The Shanghai based branding firm Labbrand reviews the impact of packaging design on business in a cultural context, particularly in China. Product brand managers need to pay special consideration to how their consumers view color, materials, images and typefaces, while considering the contrasts between Chinese and Western markets.

Packaging design and color has a a big impact on the failure or success of the product it packages. If the consumer is not attracted to the colors and the packaging, they may pay no attention to the product itself.

People use a little more than a minute to make up their minds about a product they see for the first time, and a big part of this judgment is based on colours alone.
“All of us have involuntary physiological and psychological responses to the colours we see,” according to the Chicago-based Institute for Colour Research, a group that collects information on the human response to colour and then sells it to industry. “Colour…impacts our appetite, sexual behaviour, business life and leisure time,” says Eric Johnson, the institute’s head of research studies.

I knew that different cultures and countries have different opinions on particular colors, but I had no idea that the French, Belgian, or Japanese are not attracted to green packaging or that Islamic cultures react to yellow in a negative way because yellow symbolizes death. And of course for the Chinese yellow is associated with the emperor’s clothing and red represents happiness and fortune. The article lists a variety of other colors and the perception from various cultural contexts. The choice of color is powerful when designing packaging for certain markets.

However, this does not apply to every product category: Chinese consumers generally find appealing these bright and shiny colours for food products but tend to prefer white and pastel colours for personal care and household items. For instance, General Mills adapts the colours used on own product packages in the Chinese market by using bright and flashy colours.

These examples really illustrate the importance of understanding a local consumer market when developing products (both 3-dimensionally and 2-dimensionally).

Researchers estimate that more than 70 percent of purchase decisions are made at point of sale . Here the consumer takes in rapidly all the products displayed – and likewise hastily looks for clues that help him make a decision.
Products brands that are successful on the Chinese market clearly take into consideration how images and patterns printed on the packaging influence consumers decisions towards own products.

Packaging has an incredible power over what people buy. The same way people express themselves through the clothes they wear they also make statements about who they are through the products they buy. Indeed, we buy products not just for their functional attributes but also – and maybe even more importantly – because these products promise to fulfil desires and longings. The package that enfolds the product carries a big part of that promise.

The challenge when trying to build a locally consistent “promise” is to interpret the global brand identity and creative concept in a meaningful way for the Chinese market. The package design needs to attract attention, stimulate curiosity, build a connection and ultimately lead the buyer to think the product is the best one offered. China is a country with a long history and a rich culture, creating codes in the minds of consumers that must be considered during package design. In order to be successful in China, foreign brands need to reinterpret their identity through the eyes of Chinese consumers to truly understand how colours, patterns, images, typeface and material choices can contribute build a meaningful product experience.

via Freelance Blogging


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