In an increasingly connected and competitive world, marketers are striving for the efficiencies derived from establishing one look globally. A single, global brand from Bohemia to Bogotá is surely the solution? However, while global design can be elegant in theory, we’ve found that, from a packaging perspective, it’s quite difficult in practice.
In our experience, there are three main reasons why taking a global approach to packaging doesn’t work:
1. Varying retail formats and packaging structures
For the shopper, the brand begins in the store. And globally, packaging must work in a wide range of retail contexts, from the wide aisles of modern trade to the cluttered kiosks and smaller pack formats in traditional trade environments.
2. Varying design aesthetics and information needs
Because perceptions of beauty, health and/or appetite appeal vary by region, designs don’t always travel well across borders. In addition, product familiarity is often limited in developing markets, which drives a greater need to be literal in conveying product information.
3. Varying marketing challenges
Marketers typically start with very different looks and business challenges across different countries: a well-established brand in the UK may be a newcomer in China. If this context is ignored, marketers may design to the lowest common denominator and end up with global mediocrity.
So, what can marketers do to achieve successful global packaging?
The key is to use consumer research wisely, and incorporate local insight both at the beginning and end of the design process.
At the pre-design stage, research must inform the design brief with a clear understanding of local markets, including the retail realities (of store context), the in-home realities (of storage and usage) and the visual equities (that shoppers use to recognise the brand).
These core equities can be used and evolved as the foundation for a global design system.
At the evaluation stage, research should guide the decision-making process, to help push beyond regional agendas and/or individual opinions, and to ensure effectiveness.
To do so, it’s important to marry a consistent global methodology (to provide consistent metrics) with local analysis (to measure success within each market).
Specifically, in a packaging context, we’ve found the following three things:
1. Behavioural measures of shelf presence (visibility, shopability and purchase from shelf) are most predictive of in-market performance.
2. Setting realistic global "action standards" is critical, as it is nearly impossible to drive wins in all countries.
3. Diagnostic insights (from eye-tracking of pack-viewing patterns) are valuable in uncovering the "why?" and guiding refinements.
In addition to incorporating the consumer’s voice, our advice is to avoid defining global packaging in terms of global uniformity.
Instead, the most successful global packaging systems mandate a few core constants (a logo,
a colour and so on) and give regions the freedom to use their local knowledge to customise
This may involve modifying claims or altering a visual to speak to local priorities or sensitivities, or changing the packaging structure to work more effectively in stores or the home.
Global design (and, indeed, marketing) is ultimately a balancing act between global continuity and local customisation, and, in some cases, long-term brand strategy and day-to-day execution. Marketers and designers who respect this balance – and are guided by a true understanding of local shoppers – are far more likely to win their battles at retail.
Grant Montague is the vice-president, Europe of Perception Research Services
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Dark turkey meat has more calories than white turkey meat.
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