Retail Packaging When Going Global

8767079_sYou’ve done it! You’ve achieved nationwide success, and now your company is ready for the next step: going global. You’re expanding into a number of foreign markets in countries all over the world. Now the question is: how do you package your product to sell in those countries? How do you make sure your brand stands out and remains uniquely identifiable with your company while still communicating the pertinent information of your product to the consumer in their own language? Here are a few tips for retail packaging when going global:

Visual Communication

The most popular brands are all readily identifiable, not by their name, but by their logo. The Nike swish. The Pepsi ball. Microsoft’s flag of colored squares. No matter what country you’re in, and what language you speak, if you see those logos, you know exactly what company they represent.

Your brand may not be as prominent or recognizable as Nike or Microsoft, but making your packaging as visual as possible is an important step toward establishing your brand globally. Keep it simple, as well. If you clutter the label with a lot of dense text and information, it will distract from the overall message of your brand. Choose a couple of important facts or messages to include (briefly) on the front of the package (“Low fat!” “50% larger!” etc.), and save the rest of the pertinent information for the label on the back.

You can play around with colors as well, using a certain color or color combination to help communicate your brand instantly. Coca-Cola is red and white. Kodak is yellow. If you can come up with a very specific color scheme and make it your own, you’ll be well on your way to establishing your brand and packaging globally.


While the overall esthetic of your packaging should remain consistent across all countries and markets you sell in, there will be ways in which each market will need to customize packaging. For instance, we mentioned earlier that the front of your package could include a couple of important facts about the product. Those facts could be different for each country, depending on what features are important to that culture. In addition, use images, icons, layout and color combinations that represent positivity in each culture. Let the packaging reflect the country it’s being sold in, so that it has not only universal recognition, but local appeal.

Market Research

The best way to see if your packaging will work is to ask the locals in each country what they think. For each country where you plan to sell a particular product, present a focus group with your proposed packaging for that product and get their feedback. Is it easily identifiable? Is it appealing? Does it make some cultural faux pas that you should be aware of before releasing in that market?

If you have multiple packaging designs, have a separate focus group for each. If you put them all together and ask which one they prefer, the results will be skewed. Remember, your customers will only see one version of your package on the shelves, and won’t be able to make comparisons. So let each option stand on its own merits and choose whichever one is the most popular.

There are a number of things you can do to help your product packaging appeal both on a global scale and on many different local ones. Take the time to make sure not only your words translate, but also your images. With a little planning and creativity, your brand can transcend language barriers and appeal to international consumers.




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