Translating Packaging Across International Markets

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Do you sell your product with packaging abroad? Do you do anything different to localize your packaging in terms of the language, design or translation? Or have you adopted an internationalization strategy? This year’s LuxePack event presented packaging companies with a 5-step programme to international success.

During the event in New York, a show for the creative packaging industry held on 15 and 16 May, packaging experts shared their views about cross-cultural marketing. Website Cosmetic Design took notes which we found very useful.

Among the experts that lectured during the show were Dr. Benjamin Punchard, who is a Senior Global Packaging Analyst at Mintel, and the Executive VP of Operations at Gurwitch Products, Scott Widro. Both Dr. Punchard and Widro believe that the division between developing markets and the West is slowly fading. This specifically holds for the packaging industry, which is why their tips were mainly targeted to this field.

At the LuxePack event, Dr. Punchard pointed out that the economic climb after the recession accounts for many new releases in the prestige packaging industry in the United States and China. Even though the consumers in these two markets have different wishes, Punchard believes a global trend can still be identified. In both markets, packages are leaning towards “sophisticated but simple designs.”

Dr. Punchard: “In this instance, brands can cater to this trend by designing a package that incorporates sophistication while keeping in mind to pear down the amount of information on a pack.” He continues: “Although Chinese consumers have a culture of pattern value when it comes to packaging, they are also exposed to and partial to simplicity too so brands will be catering to both US and Chinese consumers, for example.”

Scott Widro, a very experienced professional in the packaging industry, then elaborated on the branding process for international marketing. According to him, there are five steps companies should take to successfully approach foreign markets:

1. Keep it simple: Widro agrees with Dr. Punchard that there is a trend to keep packaging as simple as possible, but he points out this does not mean brands no longer have to pay attention to detail: “What I mean by this is, avoid gimmicks. I am not actually saying design a simple package, it is all in the execution, bottles like coco mademoiselle for example are not easy to develop, they look simple but the bottle and cap featured on them are a result of high end innovation.”

2. Keep it elegant: Another global trend, Widro says, is elegance. Brands try to attract buyers by mixing sophistication with the “art of beauty,” resulting in elegant products.

3. Keep it consistent: According to Widro, brands should try to stick to the DNA  and core values of their company, no matter what region they are trying to conquer. This is important as “maintaining the visual message of a brand and being consistent in that will ensure that it will be more recognizable.’”

4. Keep it convenient: This is a pretty straightforward step: companies must strive for packaging that is as convenient and accessible as possible.

5. Keep it iconic: Lastly, Widro believes that investing in packaging really is worth the time and money. One glance at a product can tell a consumer more than a thousand words, which is why “if you can afford to prioritize creativity before cost, all the better.”

These points and the talk around the LuxePack event point to the seeming adoption of internationalization above localisation within the packaging industry as a strategy, i.e. planning and implementing products, services or packaging (in this case) so that they can easily be localized for specific languages and cultures rather than looking at each separate market and making changes.

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