Cultural differences on packaging

Published 17 March 2017
Are there big differences on attitudes on storage of food and food packaging, depending on where you live? Stora Enso has gathered insights in the United Kingdom, Germany and China to try to get the bigger picture.

Our insights show that UK consumers are savvy shoppers, who expertly decode packaging. Most consumers in the UK did very similar groupings of products, revealing how instantly and consistently they decoded packaging and what the brands wanted to communicate to them.

Organic, healthy and authentic packaging codes are increasingly becoming the new premium. The premium packaging codes have been widely copied by own label products and discounters, sometimes diluting their meaning, and consumers therefore no longer see them as premium and quality products. They seem to be replaced by the “Organic, healthy look & feel” that expresses good quality because of its links to nature and environment, rather than the premium code in the past.

In China however, results show that the absolute most important thing in food packaging is the food protection capability. For example, the Chinese want their food packages to be solid enough to well protect the foods, they should be transparent so that it is easy to see the content, easy to open and not be too big, for transportation and freshness reasons. More “nice to have” features are creative, nice looking and environmental friendly packages.

We move on to Germany, where users assign a subordinated role to packaging when it comes to grocery shopping. The Germans prefer to base their decisions on experience and trust by buying what you already know and like. Other criteria for the Germans are habits, price and brand. The Germans typically claim that they do not appreciate the material and shape of the food packages that much. One user said: “I pay for the taste, not for the packaging”. Functionality such as easy to open/close, easy to pour, steady and stable packages are however considered nice.

So, it seems that there are quite a few cultural differences after all. In the UK, users really care about packages from a design point of view, as well as the environmental aspect. However, in China, the biggest concern is to protect the content inside the packaging in the best possible way, and Germans are more creatures of habits.