Student Handout #3
Diversity in Product Design


Two companies that failed internationally due to cultural differences are Pepsi and Coca Cola. According to Kwintessential, both beverage giants had issues when first moving into the China market. Coca Cola named their product a Chinese phrase that would sound like the original name. However, this new phrase translated to “Bite the Wax Tadpole” This didn’t go over well.

Pepsi brought a new slogan to the Chinese market. It was “Pepsi brings you back to life”. Unfortunately the phrase translated to “Pepsi brings your ancestors back to life.”

Both companies had to revamp their Chinese campaigns.

One of the most sensitive touchstones to any culture is its religion. The misuse of religious iconography can damage a company’s image with those customers. During the 1994 World Cup, bottles of Heineken beer displayed the flags of all the participants in soccer’s biggest tournament, including Saudi Arabia. The country’s flag shows a verse from the Quran, Islam’s holy book. The Quran forbids the use of alcohol, so thousands of Muslims registered complaints with the brewer for displaying the verse.

Discuss with your group

  1. For each scenario above, who might be important to add to a diverse development team?

  2. What ethical issues do you think these scenario present?

Be prepared to summarize for the class the scenario and the answers to the discussion questions.