VFC has done some packaging design for U.S. manufacturers developing goods in China and, almost every time, there is a communications breakdown. Believe it or not, in most instances the manufacturer of the product makes the packaging in the same plant. And these plants are pretty unsophisticated.
I’m not talking about Matel or Walmart suppliers whose U.S. management has gone in hot and heavy with western management and quality control but the tens of thousands of smaller suppliers that U.S. manufacturers and distributors use to bring goods to market. Most of these suppliers are owned and run by people who still, in 2010, speak very little English.
Even in this second decade of the new century the language barrier isn’t the only obstacle facing the Chinese companies intent on partnering with western distributors. That is a contributing factor but many of these manufacturers are severely behind in the technology curve. We’ve been asked to send paper laser prints from which the will offset print packaging on 100-year-old presses. That company didn’t understand, didn’t know that paper plates were obsolete. Virtual Farm Creative took the opportunity to educate them and they made and economical upgrade that significantly improved their quality.
Even if they do speak passable American or Westernized English there are nuances that they will never understand about our markets. I have always though that industrious designers, developers and marketing companies willing to take a risk and make an investment in China could create a niche by improving these offerings that fail more often than they succeed and undeniable benefit for American companies.
How to package it and explain it to Chinese manufactures and how to explain the ROI of partnering with a buttoned up American shop is another matter altogether. Still, it’s something VFC would like to explore in this decade of globalization. Does anyone speak Chinese?.