The power of symbolic packaging cues

Iris van Ooijen

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


    Packaging can be considered as an element of communication in the market-place. By communicating through packaging, marketers are able to appeal to consumers at the most crucial moment in the consumer decision journey: the point of sale. At the point of sale, consumers are able to consider the purchase of a product by evaluating the visual and tactile attributes of its packaging. Marketers increasingly become aware of the powerful role of packaging as a communication tool, which is reflected in the recognition of the capacity of packaging to create product differentiation and identity within product categories that are relatively homogenous, such as FMCG's (Bertrand, 2002; Underwood, 2003). Moreover, some brands (e.g., Dorset Cereals and Innocent Smoothies) have managed to grow towards the top of the market by allocating their advertising budgets almost entirely to their packaging design. Indeed, visual attributes, such as aesthetic appearance but also logos and product claims on the package, have shown to affect product evaluation and preference (Deighton, 1992; Ford, Smith, & Swasy, 1990; van Grinsven & Das, 2014). In this chapter however, we argue that the power of “packvertising” goes beyond the view of packaging as a vehicle that communicates logos, product claims and product descriptions. More specifically, we propose that packaging has the ability to communicate symbolic meaning through unobtrusive features in its design. These features may affect product evaluations implicitly, by drawing from automatic associations that have developed during consumers’ interactions with the world.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAdvances in Advertising Research
    Subtitle of host publicationThe digital, the classic, the subtle, and the alternative
    EditorsPeeter Verlegh, Hilde Voorveld, Martin Eisend
    Place of PublicationWiesbaden
    ISBN (Electronic)978-3-658-10558-7
    ISBN (Print)978-3-658-10557-0, 978-3-658-14082-3
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Publication series

    NameEuropean Advertising Academy

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