When it comes to choosing the perfect packaging, it’s usual for manufacturers to consider the target market in terms of key factors such as industry, age and gender, but another consideration is whether product packaging should be different for an international market.


As global brands look to succeed in a worldwide market, it’s common for packaging to include necessary product information in a variety of languages, but many of the same products are being sold in different countries with completely different packaging.


Given that the product is the same, why are manufacturers producing different packaging depending on the country of sales? The simple answer is the consumers. Consumer target markets differ in each country, but the question is best answered by looking at examples of the same product being sold in different packaging in different countries, to see how consumers differ, and to see how various international markets interpret packaging.


The Lays/Walkers Brand

One of the most recognised food brands is the Lays/Walkers empire, and is a great example of the same product being packaged differently for varying markets. A brand of potato chip, despite the product being virtually the same, the brand name is altered to appeal to each audience, with Walkers the brand name for the UK market and Lays used for the American and European product. When PepsiCo – the parent company of Lays producer Frito-Lay – bought the Walkers crisps brand in the UK, the company kept the Walkers name on the packaging to ensure continued British consumer loyalty. Changing a brand name that is well-liked and recognised in the UK to match a US consumer market could alienate a UK target audience. Keeping the product and logo the same, but altering the packaging to cater for the different markets, is a way of maximising long term sales and profits, and builds brand loyalty and trust.


A Coca-Cola Conundrum

When producing Coca-Cola for the Chinese market, manufacturers had to consider the translation and meaning of the Coca-Cola trademark. Packaging for Coca-Cola products in China has been adapted to include the Mandarin translation of the trademark, which has evolved to roughly mean ‘delicious happiness’. This difference in the packaging has enabled the product and brand to grow in success in the Chinese market, and the Mandarin version of the trademark is the packaging most frequently displayed in advertisements in China.


The Importance of Colour

Colour, as one of the main packaging attractions for consumers when choosing a product, is also an important consideration when packaging products for international markets. Certain colours have certain associations in particular countries, and this can influence packaging decisions. In China, for example, bright, bold colours such as red are used for packaging food items, with softer, more muted colours and designs common for personal care and household product packaging. This has seen tissue brand Kleenex producing packaging that reflects cultural differences: in China, Kleenex packaging is often in calm, pastel hues, whereas Kleenex packaging in the US features vibrant colours and detailed designs.


Achieving successful packaging requires an understanding of the target market. Market segmentation – where the market is divided up depending on certain factors and packaging then tailored to this – is therefore essential, and explains why many numerous manufacturers are selling the same product in different countries in different packaging that is a reflection of its international market.


Sources: coca-colacompany.com, labbrand.com