Packaging Your Product for the China Market

Even though you may have a useful or extraordinary product, this does not guarantee that a consumer will pick it up from the store shelves. This is especially the case when similar products of your competitors look more appealing. The quality of the product is not insufficient, but in many circumstances, it is the product packaging that determines a consumer’s purchasing preference.

For any product, the packaging serves the following three main purposes – Basic Functions, Attraction and Differentiation. The basic functions of packaging are to protect the product from damage and give consumers basic information about the product. At the same time, packaging itself can also attract consumers to take a look at the product as it sits on store shelves as well as to differentiate the product of one brand from another.

Product Packaging in China

In recent years, China is deeply influenced by Western culture and the market has become more “Westernized,” and in tune with this change is a rising demand for products and groceries with more Western elements. However, when it comes to a design-related topic, China is still regarded as a “unique” market which is different from other Asian countries.

A brand which aims to target the China market should consider the following factors if it is ready to create packaging for a product or planning to change the packaging of an existing product:

Color

Product Packaging China

Choosing the right color palette for packaging is half the challenge for a brand. In fact, the color plays a crucial role in the consumer purchase decision.

In traditional Chinese culture, red is chosen for good luck, while yellow or gold is seen as a royal color. It is important for brands to take account of these symbolic colors, but ultimately, the most crucial step is to choose a color which matches the properties of the product or the distinctive brand image. It is not always necessary to exploit a particular color, for example red, to package the product with a hint of Chinese essence in order to attract local consumers.

In general, bright and vivid colors are generally applied to food and beverage products, while pastel or white shades are preferred for household items and
personal care products.

Logo and Typeface

coca colaBoth the logo and typeface are the soul of a brand as well as indispensable features on the product package. An eye-catching logo not only propels your brand to stand out from the crowd, but can also constantly remind consumers about its products and set a quick standard for a recognisable brand and its attached quality. For example, the logo for Apple is easily recognised and subconsciously the consumer knows about its quality, price, features, and place within the market from viewing the logo alone.

Chinese consumers cling to brands that closely interact with their lives. To achieve this, the simplest thing a brand can do is to provide a Chinese translation of the brand name which they can easily pronounce and remember. Many international brands have already adopted Chinese brand names, followed by Chinese typeface as part of the logo, to better communicate to the market.

Image, Pattern and Shape

Visuals, in the form of image, pattern and shape, play a primary role in catching consumers’ attention. In China, it is quite common for brands to put cartoon designs on their products to make them more appealing to local consumers.

There are also some Chinese brands which have created special shapes of packaging for their products. For instance, a dried plum brand has uniquely designed a package which mimics the shape of a fresh plum.

dried plum

Packaging Material

The packaging material needs to be carefully selected based on the nature of the product and the preferences and trends of target consumers.

According to the report Latest Trends and Key Issues in the Chinese Retail Packaging Market, there is a growing trend in the use of flexible, glass, rigid plastic, rigid metal, and paper & board packaging materials.

Nowadays, there is an expanding segment of Chinese consumers who prefer buying products with environmental-friendly packaging material. Some brands have started using recyclable materials for their package, but in this case, the production cost will be relatively higher.

Product packaging has a huge influence on what people buy, and it is a mission for every brand to create a package that best communicates to their target consumers.


By Mason Ku of Alarice International

Mason Ku is the Marketing Executive at Alarice International – a Hong Kong based consultancy which offers creative marketing solutions for Chinese & Hong Kong market. He is in charge of marketing strategies planning and project management. In his spare time, Mason is interested in design and reading inspirational articles. Contact: Mason Ku (mason@alarice.com.hk)

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