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Cracking the Chinese consumer by addressing packaging challenges

By Andrew McDougall+

03-Sep-2014
Last updated on 04-Sep-2014 at 12:11 GMT

Cracking the Chinese consumer by addressing packaging challenges

The secret to packaging success in China lies in recognising consistent global challenges and then factoring in the unique dynamics of the Chinese market, according to new research.

Scott Young, President, Perception Research Services, says there is no single formula for packaging success in China, but the most successful packaging design takes these two things into consideration.

China’s economy has grown seven times as fast as America’s over the last ten years, and the urban middle class alone is bigger than the entire US population today, according to Perception Research Services (PRS); which conducted packaging and shopper research studies in the country.

Global trends

Young says that it is important for suppliers to look at packaging challenges happening across the world and not just in China.

“An effective packaging system must typically; break through retail clutter to create attention and recognition, be easily shop-able to help people quickly and accurately find the right product, connect on a visceral level to engage and appeal to shoppers, [and] convey key information to differentiate from competition and ultimately close sale,” he explains.

“These core principles serve as a good starting point for developing effective packaging in China (or any country).”

Despite this, the analyst also states that this does not mean there should be global uniformity in packaging as this is unlikely to meet all of these objectives across many different markets, due to major variations across countries in shoppers, retail environments and competitors, all of which are important to consider in a Chinese context.

Shoppers and their behaviours

Therefore, PRS research dictates that marketers and suppliers need to establish who the Chinese shopper is and their behaviour when shopping.

PRS research finds that compared to shoppers in other countries, Chinese consumers consistently rated global brands and packaging far lower on dimensions such as quality and trust, suggesting there is an opportunity for global brands to more effectively highlight quality reassurances on pack, and build trust.

The shelf context and competitive set also have a direct impact on how people see and react to packaging, says Young.

“Chinese packaging needs to work across a wide range of contexts,” he says. “Therefore, it is often wise to design with flexibility/customization in mind, so that designs can be modified to work within different situations and structures.”

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