When is it necessary to localise product packaging?

Huda Khan*, Larry Lockshin, Richard Lee, Armando Corsi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The common market practice by global consumer brands to create localised packaging for foreign markets conflicts with findings that cast doubt on this strategy. By examining the differential influence of standard (Western) and local (Chinese) packaging on Chinese consumers’ perceptions and choice behaviour, this study aims to examine whether this strategy is effective or even necessary. Design/methodology/approach: A pre-test first identified suitable products and brands. Using a multiple methods approach, online participants in China first rated the brands and packaging of hedonic and utilitarian products. The ratings were then validated by triangulating with the results of a discrete choice experiment that captured participants’ choice behaviour. Findings: For hedonic products, standard packaging is rated more positively and chosen more often than local packaging. For utilitarian products, there are no differences in ratings and choice. For hedonic products, brand likeability is higher for standard packaging than for local packaging. For utilitarian products, brand likeability does not differ between the two packaging types. Research limitations/implications: These findings cast doubt on the effectiveness of indiscriminate packaging localisation. International marketers need to rethink their approach, particularly in non-Western markets. Interviews with five brand managers in charge of major consumer brands in China revealed their actual market practice and further illuminate this study’s findings. Originality/value: This is first study to question the common market practice of packaging localisation and investigate the differential effects of standard versus local packaging of foreign products on consumers’ perceptions and choice behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-383
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Consumer Marketing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Brand likeability
  • Choice behaviour
  • Foreignness
  • Localisation
  • Packaging
  • Packaging cues
  • Standardisation


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