According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, about 1.32 billion people travel abroad every year. And a majority of tourists face hassle communicating at duty-free stores, local markets, and pharmacies. This is where the necessity of language-specific packaging comes into play. Multinational brands have been including consumer manuals in multiple languages in their packaging since ages. But, now is the time to adopt smart technologies, which can eliminate the language gap as well as are cost savvy.
Traditionally, brands used to print instructions in multiple languages in the consumer booklet. For example, Philips includes this small booklet of how to use manual in their packaging. But, this information is accessible only when the user opens the package. At stores, he still has to juggle with sign languages and now the language translation apps to understand even the basic product information. Moreover, this multi-lingual manual is available with consumer durables and high-value products. Even today, international customers have to struggle to find the flavor of their choice for a packet of lays or cookies.
Some brands address this issue by printing the mandatory information in their regional and English language. But, this strategy can help only a segment of tourists and cannot cover the entire spectrum of customers. For example, a package with information printed in Chinese and English can help the Americans in China. But, how will an Indonesian decipher the information, who is also the potential buyer?
Given the dimensions of the product and packaging, it is not possible to print the entire information in multiple languages in a limited area.
There are many solutions to make package information available to consumers irrespective of their region of origin. Following are the viable ones.
NFC labels or tags are small chips capable of integrating with the product packaging. This chip is programmed to contain a chunk of information readable with a smartphone or any NFC capable device.
However, this technology can add to a packaging overhead and is feasible with high-value products.
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Inscribing NFC tags on individual packaging can be costly. But, brands can achieve this at store level. For example, supermarkets display similar items in clusters. Along with product or price display board, NFC integrated screen/boards can be placed at the counters.
Consumers also have handy solutions to translate and understand the product information from packaging. For example, Google Translate App lets the users translate information by typing, scanning image, or speaking. But, the accuracy of translation is yet to improve. Plus, naive users cannot pronounce words like locals.
However, manufacturers can simplify sentences to help translation apps more accurately. Since, there is no upfront cost to the manufacturer with language translation apps, at present, it is the most popular solution for everyone.
These are the most effective language specific packaging solution that manufacturers can implement. Brands can print a QR code in packaging, which user can scan to derive the necessary information. The QR codes can inherit the device’s language. Hence, the user need not struggle with detecting the target language after scanning. There is an upfront cost for generating codes for individual products; but, it’s worthy if it is helping in sales conversions.
The pharmaceutical industry is an early adopter of language-specific packaging with NFC embedded labels. Even the supply chain and logistics industry widely use RFID (Radio Field Identification) tags to track packages which can be upgraded to solve the language gap.
Consumer durables industry is okay with printing a common handbook with instructions written in different languages. But, this sector also needs to advance to language specific packaging because the users are tech savvy and have less attention to details.
Moreover, smart packaging is entering the game, which will include many more features apart from making the information available in the user-specific language.
With the increase in per capita income, tourists influx is going to increase in the coming years. Especially the developing countries are developing tourism as a source of GDP. Simple technologies like QR codes are feasible for packaging small value products. Apart from solving tourists hassle with decoding product information, language specific packaging can also contribute to increasing sales from souvenirs, which are the most common purchases by the people who travel abroad.
World tourism data courtesy: United Nations World Travel Organization tourism highlights 2018.