Should I adapt my product and packaging for foreign markets?

Japanese businesses face significant domestic challenges such as a shrinking population and high market saturation. As a result, venturing into international markets has become a strategic necessity.

However, stepping into the global arena is not as simple as just exporting your current products or services. Cultural, economic, and market variations require a meticulous appraisal of how your offerings should be adapted for foreign success.

Product Adaptation

Honda's product line changes in different markets.
The question of whether to adapt your product for a foreign market often depends on cultural preferences, local standards or regulations, and economic conditions. For example, Japan’s automobile giant, Honda, has numerous instances of product adaptation in its international strategy. In India, it offers the Honda Activa, a gearless scooter hugely popular among the urban population, a product line it does not sell in Japan. 
 
Similarly, when Japanese electronics company Panasonic entered the Indian market, it had to significantly adapt its product offerings. For instance, Panasonic introduced “economy” versions of air conditioners and televisions, offering fewer features at a lower price point, to cater to the price-sensitive Indian market. 

Packaging Adaptation

KitKat has embraced the 'kitto katsu' coincidence.
Adapting packaging for overseas markets can be just as crucial as modifying the product itself. Factors such as language, cultural symbols and colors can influence consumer perceptions and purchasing behavior. There may even be stipulations on what marketing copy can be used or what packaging size can be legally sold in specific territories.
 
One prominent example of a company that adapted its packaging for foreign markets is Kit Kat. In many Western markets, the company sticks to more conventional flavors like milk chocolate and dark chocolate, and the packaging is typically more standardized. In Japan, Kit Kat offers a wide variety of unique flavors that cater to local tastes, such as sweet potato, green tea, sakura cherry blossom, and wasabi. The packaging is often colorful and playful, reflecting the seasonal and regional themes of the flavors.
 
The adaptability of Kit Kat’s packaging and product offerings demonstrates a keen understanding of different cultural tastes and consumer behaviors, allowing the brand to appeal to a wide range of customers across diverse markets.

Balancing Global Consistency and Local Adaptation

Deciding the degree to which you should adapt your product or packaging is a strategic decision. It requires a delicate balance between maintaining global brand consistency and respecting local preferences and customs. Adapting your product and packaging for foreign markets is not just about overcoming barriers; it’s an opportunity to understand and connect with diverse consumers in a meaningful way. This understanding can ultimately lead to an enhanced brand image, greater customer loyalty, and, most importantly, increased global sales.
 
Our experts at GK can help you through the process of repackaging and localizing your products for new markets. If you have any questions about this process, get in touch using the form below for an informal conversation.

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