Colour and graphics
Colour and graphics are used in packaging and labelling to convey an impression of the contents. They help purchasers distinguish a particular brand from its competition. A consumer product may be on a shelf with dozens of similar product lines, competing for limited space and customer attention.

It is vital that colour and graphics complement the product and communicate its benefits clearly. In many cases, photographs are effectively used in place of illustrations.

Case study: Canned polar bear unappealing to Chinese

A Canadian West Coast exporter was not aware of the Chinese interpretation of blue and white. The company sent an order of canned salmon to China. The label on the can showed a white polar bear against a blue background.

To Westerners, the image is one of purity and freshness. In China, blue and white are used as funeral colours and the message that was conveyed was that the product was dead polar bear! The exporter had to repackage the goods.

The material must be appropriate for the foreign market and sensitive to the buyers’ culture or additional costs can result.

Packing requirements

One important consideration is whether to change design concepts and re-use artwork on packaging and promotional material when exporting. Several multinational companies, such as Microsoft, McDonald’s and Disney use universality in packaging, trademarks and advertising. This approach has been very successful for products with global recognition. Other companies prepare market-specific design work. A product package in Japan is scrutinized as carefully as the product itself. The Japanese have a tradition of gift-wrapping and always equate the exterior package with the quality of the contents. This may mean extra time and money spent to conform to the expectations of this market.

Many European countries have created tough legislation for recycled packaging. North American consumers are also becoming more environmentally conscious, and excess packaging or “filler” can create a negative image of wastefulness around the product. Consumers may also become suspicious if they think they are paying more for the packaging than they are for the product itself.

The package must be aesthetically appealing and practical (e.g., re-sealable, tamper proof). Marketing research will determine the needs of the customer and reveal what the established brands have done to fill these needs. They have usually set a standard for size and shapes.

The package must also be acceptable to the retailer and conform to the allowable shelf space for the product category. The package must travel well, be of quality materials and be designed to withstand shipping and handling.

Mass marketed products now require an accurate bar or UPC code that can be read by computers. Case lots need to be of a reasonable size to prevent storage problems. Generally, allotted shelf space, called “facings,” reflects sales performance. The retailers will need to be provided with conclusive market research to persuade them to feature the product with optimum facings.

Sourced from FITTskills International Marketing, 6th ed.

Read Top 4 Things to Consider when Designing a Promotional Strategy for the International Market – Part 1 here