Retail in Asia


How did elaborate mooncake packaging become a problem in China?

It is undeniable that the packaging of Chinese products are more elaborate compared to similar products in Western countries. In some cases, consumers have to unwrap four or five layers of intricate wrapping before reaching the product buried deep inside. Despite the detrimental environmental impact of such a presentation, the elaborate packaging represents perceived status, making it desirable for most customers.

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While this practice extends to many every-day goods, the most extreme case of China’s elaborate packaging is in the finely crafted gift box. Due to gift-giving being an intrinsic part of Chinese culture, and the importance of appealing presentation to symbolise the quality of the gift and the relationship with the recipient, elaborate packaging has become intertwined within this Chinese practice. There are few product categories which don’t offer a large array of products estooned with festooned with special gift packaging.

The lead up to last weekend’s Mid Autumn Festival is where gift packaging increases even further with the onset of mooncake season. Each year the baked goods are packaged with more elaborate trimmings than the last. Mooncakes have become increasingly elaborate to the extent that this year Beijing has intervened with regulations to ensure “excessive packaging” and overcharging don’t spoil the tradition. Over 180,000 sellers and suppliers had been inspected by law enforcement officers since early August, ensuring that prices were kept below JPY 500 (USD 72) a pack and banned ingredients weren’t included. It is one of the most visible initiatives of how Common Prosperity policies are creeping into mainstream consumer products.

Source: Cova

Mooncakes are not the only goods to be addressed by Beijing’s packaging policies. New laws coming late this year will introduce a string of packaging requirements which will impact production, sales, delivery and recycling to stem overpackaging.

1.4 billion consumers going through a little less packaging in their lives will make a material difference to the health of the planet. Last year, there were an estimated 544 million consumers who purchased food delivery services. When they order next year, greener policies will be in place to determine how the goods are delivered. Similarly, close to a billion online shoppers will see less non-recyclable packaging accompanying their purchases.

The importance of having the right packaging has always been important in China. The new regulations will merely add another element to consider in addition to ensuring  products have the correct format to serve China’s often unique occasions and uses. Appropriate imagery, icons, text, typeface and placement are important in addition to the legal labelling requirements.

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Packaging will also need to appeal to the brand’s target demographic or subtribe, whether it be brandishing Genshin Impact game characters to appeal to Gen-Zers, or having larger font and easy-opening to suit the elderly. Sales channels should be considered when tailoring for China to ensure one’s products stand out amongst the sea of competitors.

(Source: China Skinny)