How to execute multilingual packaging

Ideas to minimize clutter and mitigate the risk of backlash by mainstream shoppers.

Adding in-language copy to product packaging is one way that brands can strengthen their emotional connection to ethnic customers. However, many companies hesitate in doing so for two main reasons: it poses a design challenge and it may alienate mainstream shoppers.

To successfully address those two challenges, brands must clarify the purpose for multilingual packaging. A product that needs to deliver comprehensive shopper education should feature more extensive in-language copy than one that just wants to show appreciation for their diverse customers by translating a few key elements on the package. Perhaps multilingual packaging should only be provided on brands or SKUs with significantly higher appeal to ethnic shoppers.

Some of the best ideas on how to handle multilingual packaging come from comparing your design to that of similar products in your industry, brands that significantly invest in Hispanic marketing (ex: P&G) and brands that sell products in Canada, where it’s a legal requirement to feature copy in English and French at the same level of prominence. Ways in which brands have executed multilingual packaging include (click here to see an example):

  • Translate only benefits that significantly contribute to the purchase decision. For example, on a haircare brand, the name of the module (moisturizing, volumizing, smoothing, color care) must be highly visible in all languages.
  • Think beyond the literal translation of every word on your packaging. For example, a brand of sugar might feature a mainstream dessert recipe in English on the larger back panel and a Latin dessert recipe in Spanish on the smaller side panel.
  • Highlight other ways for customers to obtain in-language information, such as a website or customer service line.
  • Add a flag on the front of the package to point consumers to a multilingual insert inside. Similarly, you can create a multilingual mobile site and add a QR code to the front of the package to enable ethnic consumers to access it when they shop.
  • Replace the regular product label with a multi-layered peel-off version, similar to what is used on over the counter medications (feature one language per layer).

I equip executives to increase profits by capitalizing on the growth of U.S. Hispanic, African American and Asian American markets

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Posted in Best Practices, Product Ideas

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