The following factors may impact labelling:
- Labelling laws vary from country to country and do not
seem to follow any set pattern. For example, every country
has its own local labelling regulations which specify
the type of information that must appear on particular
products, e.g. the name of the manufacturer, the country
of origin, the product's weight or volume, a description
of the contents, the product's ingredients or special
information regarding additives, and chemical or fat content.
In certain countries prices are required to be printed
on the labels while in other countries, it is illegal
to give any indication of the retail price on the packaging.
A country using the metric system will probably require
that all weights and measurements appearing on packaging
also conform to the metric system.
- Some countries, such as Belgium, Canada and Switzerland,
which are multilingual, require that labels be printed
in more than one language. Other countries, however, forbid
the use of foreign languages on label.
- Government regulations aside, a manufacturer requires
that the label on its product communicate information
to its customer and facilitate the correct use of the
product. This should encourage initial and repeat purchases
and promote consumer satisfaction. It is therefore essential
that the information on the label be conveyed in the language
of the market. An exception might be the marketing of,
say. French perfumes or cosmetics, where the use of certain
French words or phrases helps to give the product a sophisticated
- Where a great deal of information must be conveyed to
the customer, e.g. in the case of technical products or
certain drugs, the label may contain a brief description
in one language, but this should be supplemented by a
detailed multilingual leaflet inserted accompanying the
- Occasionally, a company may use multilingual labels
for several countries (e.g. the EU) in order to reduce
costs. This is acceptable if a multinational image is
likely to impress a customer. In general it is more beneficial
to incur the additional labelling costs that will ensure
a unique national image.
- Special attention should always be given to the correct
translation of brand names. Coca-Cola's experience in
China demonstrates the negative effects of errors made
in this regard. When the company first set up manufacturing
facilities in mainland China, translators chose characters
that sounded like Coca-Cola but which to the Chinese actually
read "Bite the wax tadpole"?
- Cultural differences influence design aspects and should
be taken into consideration when instructions in the form
of pictures or symbols are provided on product labels.
Symbols can often be misinterpreted in the market place.
A six-pointed star used in one company's trademark, for
example, created product resistance in the Middle East
where the star was seen to symbolise pro-Israeli sentiments.
In another case, yellow flowers used in a trademark resulted
in rejection of the product in Mexico, where a yellow
flower means death or disrespect.