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Effects of Colour Packaging on Consumer Behaviour



When determining possible colour options for a new product, packaging professionals must keep the consumer in mind. First, they determine what type of message the product should give.

Based on the message, a colour scheme that represents this message is chosen.

This is why basic research is necessary, whether it’s from previous case studies of similar products or from focus groups. Finally, packaging professionals must create an “attention” to the product, making it easily noticeable to the consumer. By following these basic steps, the package could be considerably successful. It may also instil a certain image or message into the consumer’s mind that keeps them loyal for many years

This paper aims at investigating the effect of packaging design of the soft drinks industry, specifically colour, on consumer behaviour.

Most buyers make the decision of purchasing because of the packaging, which is often considered as the «silent salesman».

Now that more and more businesses understand the role of packaging to act upon consumers, it is crucial for packaging to be studied as an influence on consumer behaviour.

In today’s consumption society, consumers are faced with a large choice of product choices and in this way, the packaging plays important roles as it is a source of information.

Primary and Secondary data that has been collected for this research signals that consumers are affected by colours in their purchases

From our research, we concluded that Blue and Red packaging were much more popular than the other colours. Moreover, yellow packaging was the least popular.

Results show that the colours of packaging have a large impact on consumers and therefore on sales and profits.

Chapter One: Introduction

1) Background

The central point in today’s marketing is to fully please consumers’ needs and prosperity. The major point in marketing planning is always consumer.

The firms and markets have massively developed and the competitive environment is becoming more and more concentrated The market today is packed with so many different brands, which make it difficult for consumers to arrive at the final buying choice. At the same time companies also face complications in attracting consumers

A brand visual appearance is very crucial to consumers especially in today’s visual-obsessed society, where consumers have more choice and less time than ever before. This is why, it has never been more important for marketers to invest in the design and look of their product or logo.

When shopping, consumers are confronted with too much choice and the packaging and colour play an important role into this choice.

Colour plays a crucial part of business and marketing at both strategic and tactical level and organisations will pay colossal amounts of money to build and improve, so that colours thought of appropriate will be associated with both the company and its variety of products. It can be so successful that in some cases a colour will be immediately related to the organisation on question.

Every major organisation will are developing and designing corporate colours that reproduce the values and products of the organisation in consumers’ minds. In this way it will be hoped that the use of colours will help the customer instantaneously recognise the organisation and perceive it as being competent, contemporary and truthful.

Packaging is very important and a colossal amount of time and money is spent on consumer packaging colour design, trying to get colour combinations that exceed expectations. “Computer technology has helped a great deal in all areas of product research as 3D images can be portrayed and colours and shapes manipulated on the screen to ascertain a respondent’s reactions. Such is power of colour that it would be extremely hard for us to imagine such well-known products in a different colour, such as green Mars bar, a blue Kit-Kat, a yellow Coca-Cola, a pink Heinz baked bean tin and black Kellogg’s cornflake packets.”(Ray Wright 2006)

It has been estimated that packaging design plays a major role because it is often the only factor that can differentiate between two products (Buxton 2000; Rettie and Brewer 2000).

Actually, we can even go further and say that packaging is now being seen a new form of advertising (Furness 2003, The Silent Salesman)

2) Rational for chosen topic:

This study is selected to find out the factors which affect consumer decision while purchasing or selecting a certain colour packaged product. This research will explore the Technological, Cultural, Social, Personal and psychological factors have a big role in consumer buying decision and also how a packaging design and colour will affect and impact on buying decisions of consumers.

3) Statement of the nature of the problem

Because Colours and shapes express about 80% of all visual communication (LaCroix 1998), consumers are getting used to employing colour as a means of amassing information. Thus, colour plays an important part in marketing and advertising and especially in packaging.

Researchers have spent more than four decades studying the attitude of consumers in the marketplace (Petty, Cacioppo and Shuman 1983). This area is now called and known as consumer behaviour. Consumer behaviour involves the thoughts and feelings people experience paired off with the actions performed during the shopping process (Peter and Olson 1999).

When a choice has to be made, a consumer may use the information of size, texture, shape, price, or ingredients to make the decision of which product to purchase especially when setting quality.

Thus, it is interesting to investigate the effect of colours used in packaging on consumer behaviour.

2.1The Psychology of Consumer behaviour

The study of consumers help firms and organisations improve their marketing strategies by understanding their behaviour.

One official definition of consumer behaviour is: “the study of individuals, groups or organisations and the processes they use to select, secure, use, and dispose of products, services, experiences, or ideas to satisfy needs and the impacts that these processes have on the consumer and society”. (Hawkins, Best, and Coney, 2001, p7.)

Each organisation provides some products that are used by some consumers, even though we may not always recognise the products or consumers as such.

2.2 Factors taken into account when packaging a product

Packaging is used to protect the product from damage during shipping and handling, and to lessen spoilage if the protection is exposed to air or other elements. The design is used to attract customer’s attention as they are shopping or glancing through a catalogue or website. This is particularly important for customers who are not familiar with the product and in situations where a product must stand out among thousands of other products. Packaging designs that standout are more likely to be remembered on future shipping trips.

Packaging design and structure can also add value to a product. For instance, benefits can be obtained from package structures that make the product easier to use while stylistic designs can make the product more fascinating to display in the customer’s home.

Decisions made about packaging must not only be accepted by the final customer, they may also have to be accepted by distributors who sell the product for the supplier. For example, a retailer may not accept packages unless they conform to requirements they have for storing products on their shelves.

Companies usually create a package for a lifetime. As a matter of fact , changing a product’s packaging too frequently can have negative effects since customers become conditioned to locate the product based on its package and may be confused if the design is modified.

Marketers have long used the colour and design of their product packaging to produce brand awareness. Traditionally, changes to a product’s look have been undertaken as little as possible as to preserve that hard won brand recognition. Today, rather than sticking with one colour scheme, companies must constantly update their image to keep them as fresh and exciting as the competition’s.

Packaging decisions must also include an assessment of its environmental impact especially for products with packages that are frequently thrown away.

Packages that are not easily bio-degradable could evoke customer and possibly governmental concern.

Also, caution must be exercised in order to create packages that do not break on intellectual property, such as copyrights, trademarks or patents, held by others. (Richardson 1994).

Recent research by the Henley Centre (Frontiers, 1996) estimates that 73 percent of purchase decisions are made in the store; the design of packaging must play a key role at point of sale. “The pack design is the “salesman on the shelf” (Pilditch, 1972)”, “ it should ensure that a brand stands out, is recognised, and is included in the products under consideration” (Connolly and Davison, 1996).

Good business is often about finding out consumer trends and forming a strategy that targets growth in key technologies and market segments to capitalize on these trends. As packagers and package printers, they need to be in tune with trends and changes in shopping habits in order to remain successful.

2.3 Role of colour in marketing

Research supports the importance of a brand’s visual appearance to consumers. One study by the Institute for Colour Research revealed that people make a subconscious judgement about an item within 90 seconds of first viewing, and that up to 90% of that assessment is based on colour.

Another of their study study reveals that colour increases brand recognition by up to 80%.

Colour clearly plays an important part in catching the modern-day consumer’s eye. According to the Henley Centre, 73% of purchasing decisions are now made in store. Consequently, catching the shopper’s eye and delivering information efficiently are critical to successful sales. In today’s world of infinite choices no brand can afford to ignore the impact of colour. More importantly, why would anyone want to give that potential advantage away to competitors?

Colours send a variety of signals about the person, place or thing they adorn.

Using this link between human emotion and colour to sell a product is certainly nothing new.

3) Objectives

The objective of this research is to investigate if the colours that are used in packaging do influence our (consumers) behaviour.

Understanding the effect packaging colour has on consumer decision- making would be as an introductory mean of investigating packaging design as the new advertising.

The study also examines how different colours influence consumer decision making, and ultimately, the consumer’s intent to purchase. It focuses on packaging design from a communication aspect, not an engineering one.

We examine how packaging influences buying decisions for packaged soft drinks products. As we know, the package impacts the consumer. This is because of conflicting trends in consumer decision-making. On one hand, some consumers are paying more attracted to label information (Coulson, 2000). These consumers are more concerned in the product decision and use package information more extensively. On the other hand, modern consumers are often looking for ways to reduce time spent on soft drinks shopping. This can influence decision processes, too, as time pressure reduces detailed consideration of package elements ( Warde, 1999).

While these are important issues, and becoming even more critical in the increasing competitive environment, there is little comprehensive study on how packaging elements influence brand choice under involvement and time pressure. This paper aims at forming a better understanding of the link between colours used in packaging and consumer purchase behaviour within the soft drinks industry.

4) Relevance and significance of the subject

Until recently, the importance of colour as a brand identity wasn’t as recognised.

It is nowadays clear that colour can play a very large part of any organization’s success.

This pushes us into asking ourselves the following questions:

Ø How does colour affect us?

Ø Which colours have an impact on us?

Ø Do organisations carefully choose what colours to use when packaging a product?

5) Structure and content

The next chapter will be a literature review that will study:

1) A review of consumer behaviour and especially what mostly affects consumer decisions

2) The effect of packaging design and especially colour on consumer decision making and consumer purchase intent.

3) A review of the literature regarding colour, colour association and colour practices.

The third chapter will examine the soft drinks industry nowadays in the UK and worldwide.

The fourth chapter will be an explanation of the different methods used to practice a research. It will also outline the method used into this particular research question

The fifth chapter, Research questions and methodology, outlines the research questions and the methodology of this study. This chapter presents an in-depth look at the research questions. It explains the survey questions used for qualitative data findings.

It provides the results and a discussion of the results.

The sixth chapter will be a conclusion which restates the goal of this research and provides a summary of the research.

This chapter contains limitations of the study, suggestions for future research and reflection on the study for future replication, and how this study adds to the body of knowledge regarding the influence of packaging’s colour on the consumer decision making process.

Chapter 2: Review of the Literature.

1) Consumer behaviour

Shoppers in the United States spend about $6.5 billion on consumer goods (Peter and Olson 1999). A company’s continued success is associated with a successful relationship with the consumer. Finding out as much information as possible on consumer shopping choices and behaviour provides companies the tools to produce goods and services to strengthen their relationship with the consumer. In other words, companies have discovered that information obtained from customer databases and in-store observations have proved worthy in regard to earning consumer’s repeat purchases or business.

1.1) What is consumer behaviour?

The phrase “consumer behaviour “refers to the feelings and thoughts people experience, and the actions they take while engaging in the consumption process” (Peter and Olson 1999). Consumer behaviour also includes the things in the environment (product appearance, price information, advertisements, packaging, consumer comments, shelf positioning, etc.) that can impact the feelings and actions of the consumer.

In addition, consumer behaviour includes a process of exchange between buyers and sellers: people exchange money to obtain products or services.

Moreover, consumer behaviour involves the study of what influences the feelings and actions of people while shopping.

1.2) Main factors that lead to customer satisfaction

1.2.1 Price fairness

Recent research efforts have isolated several factors that influence consumers’ price unfairness perceptions as well as potential consequences of these perceptions (Bolton et al. , 2003; Campbell, 1999; Xia et al. , 2004). Previous research has proved the distinction between distributive fairness and procedural fairness.

Another concept of price fairness perceptions, the principle of dual entitlement, suggests that one party should not benefit by causing a loss to another party. When a firm uses the high consumer demand to its own advantage by increasing prices, consumers will feel being misused and in this way understand the prices as unfair. For example, a study showed that “82 percent of the respondents judged a price increase for snow shovels the morning after a snowstorm to be unfair, while only 21 percent of respondents viewed an increase in grocery prices following an increase in wholesale prices as being unfair” ( Kahneman et al. , 1986). While the dual entitlement principle arise from buyers’ reactions toward sellers’ obvious exploitation based on supply and demand changes, it is possible that consumers may create perceptions of unfairness based on their own demand situations even without explicit exploitation actions from the seller. For example, when buyers feel that they have to buy a product and must accept whatever the price is, they could be concerned that potentially they could be exploited by the seller regardless even if the seller doesn’t actually performs such actions.

1.2.2 Relationship of fairness perceptions to satisfaction

Recent research in marketing and psychology has shown that satisfaction is positively correlated with fairness perceptions (Bowman and Narayandas, 2001; Huffman and Cain, 2001; Kim and Mauborgne, 1996; Ordiñez et al. , 2000; Smith et al. , 1999). , Oliver and Swan (1989a, b) found that customers’ fairness perceptions depended on a supplier’s commitment and the quality of the goods and services comparing to the price paid.

1.2.3 The concept of tolerance

Given many different ideas within the literature, however, it is generally agreed that customer satisfaction involves the comparison of standards whether they be in the form of expectations, desires, wants, ideal or equitable performances. To explain the diverse issues surrounding expectations and standards with regarding customer satisfaction, Zeithaml et al. (1993) first proposed the notion of the “zone of tolerance”, which they describe as “the extent to which customers recognize and are willing to accept heterogeneity” (Zeithaml et al., 1993, p. 6). It is on this basis they proved that an individual’s zone of tolerance is the difference between what they desire and what they consider satisfactory, in terms of performance, and this zone can differ and contrast across situations and individuals. This may explain why “some customers are consistently easy to please and others are interminably difficult” (Mooradian and Olver, 1997, p.389). It can be that those customers who are easily pleased have a large zone of tolerance, in terms of their product expectations, whereas those who are quite difficult have a very narrow zone of tolerance. This would explain differences in expressed satisfaction ratings of consumers who have essentially had very similar product experiences. This notion was alluded to by Mittal and Kamakura (2001 ) with regards to satisfaction and repurchase intentions. They suggested that “consumers may have different thresholds or tolerance levels towards repurchase” (p. 132) and that consumer’s with the same satisfaction rating may have different levels of repurchase behaviour because of these differences. On this basis, it could be concluded that some individuals are simply inclined to product satisfaction and repeat purchases, whereas others are not (Grace, 2005).

2) Packaging

2.1) What is packaging?

What is packaging? In general terms, packaging is the container that is in direct contact with a product, which “holds, protects, preserves and identifies the product as well as facilitating handling and commercialisation” (Vidales Giovannetti, 1995). More specifically, and following Vidales Giovannetti (1995), there are three types of packaging: Primary packaging which is in direct contact with the product, such as soft drinks bottles, Secondary packaging which contains one or more primary packages and serves to protect and identify them and to communicate the qualities of the product ( it is normally disposed of when the product is used or consumed). Finally, tertiary packaging which contains the two previous ones and its function is usually to distribute, integrate and protect products throughout the commercial chain. This could be the cardboard box that contains several bottles.

Packaging is also considered to form part of the product and the brand. For Evans and Berman (1992) packaging is a product image or characteristic. For Olson and Jacoby (1972) packaging is an important element of the product, that is to say, it is attribute that is related to the product but that does not form part of the physical product itself. Price and brand are also crucial elements of the brand and according to Underwood et al. (2001); these are the most important values when it comes to deciding what products to buy. Keller (1998) also considers packaging to be an attribute that is not associated to the product. For him it is one of the five elements of the brand which include the name, the logo and/or graphic symbol, the personality and the slogans. Packaging is presented as part of the buying and consuming process, but often it is not as important as to the ingredients that are essential for the product to function (Underwood, 2003).

2.2) Packaging functions and elements

Different people respond to different packages in different ways, depending on their personnality ( Vakratsas and Ambler, 1999). Since an evaluation of attributes is less important in low involvement decision making, a highly noticeable factor such as graphics and colour becomes more important in choice of a low involvement product (Grossman and Wisenblit, 1999). On the other hand, the behaviour of consumers towards high involvement products is less influenced by image issues. For low involvement, there is a strong impact on consumer decision making from the development of the market through marketing communications, including image building (Kupiec and Revell, 2001).

The significance of graphics is explained by the images created on the package, whether these images are purposely developed by the marketer, or unintended and unanticipated. Graphics includes image layout, colour combinations, typography, and product photography, and the total presentation communicates an image. For consumers, the package is the product, particularly for low involvement products where initial impressions formed during initial contact can have lasting impact. According to Nancarrow et al. , 1998, the design characteristics of the package need to stand out in a display as it is one of the most important attribute in order to target consumers

Many consumers today shop under higher levels of perceived time pressure, and tend to purchase fewer products than intended (Herrington and Capella, 1995; Silayoi and Speece, 2004). Products purchased during shopping excursions often appear to be chosen without prior planning and represent an impulse buying event (Hausman, 2000). A package that attracts consumers at the point of sale will help them decide quickly on what to buy in-store. As the customer’s eye movement tracks across a display of packages, different new packages can be noticed against the competitors. When scanning packages in the supermarket, the differential perception and the positioning of the graphics elements on a package may make the difference between identifying and missing the item (Herrington and Capella, 1995).

2.3 The marketing side of packaging

Packaging seems to be one of the most important factors in purchase decisions made at the point of sale (Prendergast and Pitt, 1996), where it becomes an essential part of the selling process (Rettie and Brewer, 2000).Packaging is now recognised as the “salesman” of the shelf at the point of sale. The importance of packaging design is increasing in such competitive market conditions, as package becomes an important vehicle for communication and branding (Rettie and Brewer, 2000).

Prendergast and Pitt (1996) review the basic operations of packaging, and delimitate them by their role in either logistics or marketing. The main function of packaging is primarily to protect the product when moving through distribution channels. In marketing, packaging provides a successful method of communication about product attributes to consumers at the point of sale. The package sells the product by drawing in attention and communicating, and also allows the product to be contained, portioned and protected.

Packaging is one key product attribute perceived by consumers. It is always fulfilling the marketing function, even if a company does not openly recognize the marketing aspects of packaging. The package is an important factor in the decision-making process because it transmits a specific message to consumers. Intention to purchase depends on the degree to which consumers expect the product to satisfy them when they consume it (Kupiec and Reveil, 2001). How they comprehend it depends on communication elements and this is the key to success for many marketing strategies.

The package’s overall features can emphasise the uniqueness and originality of the product. In addition, product characteristics influence the perception of quality transmitted by packaging. If it conveys high quality, consumers assume that the product is of high quality. If the package communicates low quality, consumers transfer this low quality perception to the product itself. The package communications can be favourable or unfavourable. Underwood et al. (2001) suggest that consumers are more likely to imagine aspects of how a product looks tastes, feels, smells, or sounds while they are watching a product picture on the package.

2.4 Packaging: biggest medium of communication

Behaeghel (1991) and Peters (1994) consider that packaging could be the most important communication medium for the following reasons:

– It reaches almost all buyers in the category;

– It is present at the crucial moment when the decision to buy is made; and

– Buyers are actively involved with packaging as they examine it to obtain the information they need.

This is why it is essential to communicate the right brand and product values present on packaging and to achieve a suitable esthetical and visual level ( Nancarrow et al. , 1998).

Similarly, McNeal and Ji (2003) underline that the belonging of packaging as a marketing element resides in the fact that it often accompanies the use or consumption of products and, therefore, the possibility of conveying brand values and product characteristics increases. Wit Deasy (2000) points out that the characteristics of a product – it’s positioning – are permanently transmitted over seven stages:

1) Point of sale;

2) Transporting the product home;

3) Home storage;

4) Opening;

5) Serving the product for consumption;

6) Reclosing or putting away; and

7) Disposal.

Underwood (2003) points out that, unlike the transmission of positioning through advertising, packaging allows positioning to be transferred live. As it accompanies products, packaging lives in the home and potentially becomes an intimate part of the consumer’s life constituting a type of life experience between the consumer and the brand (Lindsay, 1997).

2.5 ) Packaging: the silent salesman

From the consumer perspective, packaging also plays a major role when products are purchased: packaging is crucial, given that it is the first thing that the public sees before making the final decision to buy (Vidales Giovannetti, 1995). This has increased with the popularisation of self-service sales systems which have caused packaging to move to the task of attracting attention and causing a purchase. In the past, it had remained behind the counter and only the sales attendant were the link between the consumer and the product (Cervera Fantoni, 2003). According to Sonsino (1990), self-service has taken the role of communicating and selling to the customer from the sales assistant to advertising and to packaging. This is why packaging has been called the “silent salesman”, as it communicates us of the qualities and benefits that we are going to obtain if we were to consume certain products (Vidales Giovannetti, 1995). Nowadays, packaging provides manufacturers with the last opportunity to influence possible buyers before brand selection (McDaniel and Baker, 1977). In this way we can say that all the packaging elements, including texts, colours, structure, images and people/personalities have to be combined to provide the consumer with visual sales negotiation when purchasing the product (McNeal and Ji, 2003). According toClive Nancarrow et al. (1998) : nine out of ten purchasers, at least occasionally, buy on impulse and unplanned shopping articles can account for up to 51 per cent of purchases ( Phillips and Bradshaw, 1993).

2.6 Packaging as an advertising tool

Consumers are bombarded with about 3600 selling messages a day (Rumbo 2002). Yet, because of technology allowing TV watchers to omit commercials and declining advertising budgets, there has been an emphasis on influencing the consumer at the store shelf (Furness 2003). For many products, such as seasonal items, packaging design has acquired the responsibility of advertising ( often being the only advertising the product will receive) and has evolved into the “ silent salesman” (Furness 2003; Rettie and Brewer 2000)

It is estimated that between 73% and 85%of purchase decisions are made at this point and the packaging design must play a key role because it is often the only factor that differentiates two products on a shelf ( Sutton and Whelan 2004; Wallace 2001; Buxton 2000; Rettie and Brewer 2000).

With a new reliance on packaging design to persuade consumers at the shelf, it is important for packaging design to be studied academically as an influence on consumer behaviour.

Research in this area of consumer response to packaging design is being encouraged to assist with increased product sales and increased benefits to the integrated marketing communications (IMC) mix (Tobolski 1994). IMC refers to the channels (advertising, packaging, personal selling, sales promotion, public relations and direct marketing) used by companies/manufacturers to communicate product information to the target audience or intended users of the product ( BNET 2004).

Packaging is expected to protect and preserve its contents, differentiate from its competitors, grab the attention of the consumer, and persuade the consumer to purchase (Packaging: good shelf image 2003; Product packaging: empty promises 2000).

The vast consumer packaged goods industry continually relies upon colour as a method of differentiation. Research has shown colour (especially non-traditional colour) attracts the attention of the consumer.

3) Colour in packaging

This research investigates the use of surface graphics colour as a cue by consumers for finding out

1) Perceived product quality

2) Perceived product performance

3) Which colours influence consumer-decision making, on the consumer’s intent to purchase?

3.1) What is colour?

Colour in its basic nature refers to what the human eye sees when light passes through a prism and produces what is commonly referred to as violet, blue, green, yellow, orange and red and is collectively referred to as the spectrum ( Cheskin 1954).

In actuality, when people characterised colour, it is perceived colour or reflected colour. Because colour memory changes some individuals perceive colours differently ( Sharpe 1974).

For example one person may see a pure red and another person may see that same red as having a hint of blue or yellow.

3.2) The psychology of colour

One marketing cue that global managers can use regardless of location is colour (Kirmani 1997; Schmitt and Pan 1994). Colour is one of t

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