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Packaging characteristics and consumer brand preference

Introduction:

The term business is defined as an organized way to earn profit. Profit is basic motif that coerces any business individual or organization to produce something that is really needed. This basic motif compels producers to take necessary steps to improve not only the product qualities but also the appearance. Producers manage to interlink demands and supplies and help their consumers to get maximum satisfaction in limited resources by offering them many well-suited goods.

As there is always scarcity of sources and abundance of wants; to generate symmetry between wants and supplies a wide range of similar and nearly alternative products are offered with varieties of price, packing style, brand name etc. by various companies, which provides customers multiplicity of choices. Since, in perfect competition every individual or firm has rights to enter the market (or leave the market) at any time and produce and sell goods according to their own will, every producer tries his level best to captivate consumers' attention by emphasizing qualities of his products among many almost similar products, hence it becomes essential to use multiplicity of packaging style, size and color of likely products, so that specific brands may be distinguished among others.

The intentions of Consumer for procuring anything depends upon the intensity of his desires to satisy his needs. Consumers have expectations that anything he is buying will satisfy his needs. (Kupiec and Revell, 2001) The basic purpose is to fulfill consumer's needs instead of product name, consequently consumer makes buying decision at the moment they encounter different objects rather making prior decisions. Consumer's purchase decision depends the way he is communicated for anything at store. The packaging becomes a major cause of his decision to buy anything because it is the first introduction of the product, which communicates the consumer that whether a product may (or may not) fulfill his requirements. The product which appears more suitable to a customer a nearest match for his needs is bought, whereas others are left. The key factor to convince a customer is to know his needs and to make him understand that a particular thing is a perfect match of his requirements.

As due to change of consumers' life style consumers are interested in packaging tool, So packaging performs an important role in marketing communications, Packaging characteristics could be treated as one of the most important factors influencing consumers' brand preference. Taking into consideration that package could be treated as a set of various elements communicating different messages to a consumer, the role of appropriate packaging material to form customers' behavior becomes inevitable.

Customers' taste and behavior also participates significant functions in choosing specific packaging style, hence to know market trend and behavior of consumers, companies conduct market surveys, prior launching any new product, so that they may understand perceptions of consumers regarding specific products and on the basis of customers' behavior, figure out the possibility of product success.

Marketing Experts believe that Success is traditionally associated with the choice of an appropriate product positioning strategy, so the first step must be to correctly define a positioning strategy. Positioning strategy means to find out physical appearance of any product prior launching it to the market. It has also been observed that sometimes quite beneficial products could not get proper attentions of the consumers because of wrong market positioning strategy or weak planning.

(Ramsay, 1983; McAlexander et al., 1993)

As a matter of fact if a product (or products) is more demanding and consequently gives lots of profit, every business individual or firm will tend to produce same for having their share of profit in that specific field. This is how there are numerous producers or manufacturers producing analogous products with the difference of brand name, packing style, shape and size because a ditto copy will never makes consumers to switch form their existing brand to a new one. Consumers normally do not switch from one product to another without having sound reasons. These reasons are nothing else but to make them realize that the new product is same but has some different tendencies as well, for instance despite having many chocolate manufacturing companies, every new manufacturer will not be welcomed to influence consumers, unless they manage to prove that their product is better than existing products.

Every company tends to prove that their product is somehow poles apart to their competitors and can fulfill the needs of their consumers in better way but in reasonable price. Packaging is the first step to make consumers buy something and plays crucial role to either make a product sellable or to prove it a complete failure, as it is believed that

"Selling something apparently attractive, though having low benefits is easier than something that has more benefits and lesser attractive."

or in other words

"Most of the books are judged and bought by their covers, instead of their contents."

While purchasing anything from the market every 73 out of 100 people go for apparently good things rather than brand and only 27 percent people strictly stuck for brand. In normal days we do not eat any food, if it does not look or smell great, though we know foods are to be tasted and not to be decorated. Commonly people go for the best looking items instead of technicalities; this is why most of the people buy extraordinary and expensive mobile phones not because of advanced functions but because they look great and by and large they rarely become familiar of all functions.

As the world is rapidly turning into global village and with the passage of time business is being expanded, the importance of using correct type of packaging material has become essential. Packaging is rightly called an art because packaging material is the first introduction of any product to the consumers, as well as it provides a physical blockade between a product and the surroundings by maintaining hygiene and reducing the risk of product wastage due to impurity. Packaging is indispensable for a safe distribution, storage, sale, and use.

Packaging also refers to the process of design, evaluation, and production of packages. It can be described as a coordinated system of preparing goods for safe, efficient and cost-effective transport, distribution, storage, retailing, consumption and recovery, reuse or disposal combined with maximizing consumer value, sales and hence profit. Verily packaging is a central part of the goods supply chain, which protects goods from damage, allows efficient distribution, informs the consumer regarding products and helps to promote goods in a competitive marketplace.

Packaging Material, especially for edible goods, are used as a tool to prolong products life. Unlike old days, when a huge part of edible goods used to be wasted because of insufficient packaging materials, now days edible goods in bulk quantities are manufactured and stored for a long time, which leads to maintain timely supply as well as reduces products cost.

In general terms, packaging is the container that has direct or indirect contact with product, it holds, protects, preserves and identifies the product as well as facilitating handling and commercialization (Vidales Giovannetti, 1995)

Packaging is a tool to form good relationship between Retailers and Food Manufacturers because both work more closely to create products designed for current lifestyles, based on the latest technology. A Retailer, having direct link with end users, can easily be well aware of the perception of consumers. On the other hand manufacturers modify packaging style and product quality on the basis of information provided by retailers. This has resulted in an explosion in the market for ready to eat meals, a market in which packaging is playing an increasingly important role.

In a very broad sense, the food industry is discovering the food service channel as a new distribution alternative. Alliances between food producers and food service operators will be the only means to develop successful solutions.

(Axler, marketing director of Sodexho, Belgium)

Packaging is also a source to provide information about ingredients to the customers and instructions to use the product, for which there are some legal requirements. Consumers make final choice on the basis of these information for instance there are some products inappropriate for diabetics patients because of having high calories, hence instructions on packaging can save diabetic patients, on contrary there are some ingredients which are prohibited for some specific religion (as pork is banned in Islamic & Jews preaching) hence through instructions and ingredient list, Muslims and Jews can avoid such forbidden foods.

Similarly on medicines dosage is mentioned for children and adults. There are some food related items, especially dairy items, which cannot be kept in sunlight, whereas there are some other items, which must be kept in open and airy places to make them fresh or to store in cold. Manufacturing and Expiry is also mentioned on food products, so that one may know that an edible item is best to use before a certain period of time to avoid any hazard or health problem. On master cartons and containers stack height is also mentioned to avoid product loss, whereas handle with care caution is mentioned on easily breakable items.

Packaging is the most important medium of communication because it reaches almost all buyers in the category and is present at the crucial moment when procurement decision is made; and buyers are actively involved with packaging as they examine it to obtain the information they need. (Behaeghel 1991 and Peters 1994)

Packaging is becoming an essential part of the value chain analysis, regarding food safety, organoleptic characteristics, ergonomics and flexibility,"

(Axler, marketing director of Sodexho, Belgium)

Packaging is a mean of communication.

(Gardener 1967, Lincoln 1965)

Packaging is the science, art and technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution, storage, sale, and use. Packaging also refers to the process of design, evaluation, and production of packages. Packaging can be described as a coordinated system of preparing goods for transport, warehousing, logistics, sale, and end use. Packaging contains, protects, preserves, transports, informs, and sells. In many countries it is fully integrated into government, business, industrial, and personal use.

Packaging attributes, combining colors, designs, shape, symbols, and messages of Food products, provide people brand acquaintance for example in a departmental store all kinds of beverages are kept in same place but consumer of specific brand can easily distinguish his choice because of difference of color, size and unambiguous shape. (Nancarrow et al., 1998)

Numerous market trends suggests a growing packaging role as a brand communication vehicle and reducing expenses on traditional brand building mass media advertising. Importance of Packaging role is acknowledged round the globe for brand building and consequently the expenses on advertisement has been found reduced. Once a brand becomes familiar companies do not have to spend a huge amount on advertising because consumer will reach the brand automatically. Companies just have to manage timely deliveries, so that meanwhile a consumer may not switch to the nearest competitors due to unavailability of the product. (Belch and Belch, 2001)

Packaging attracts and sustains attention, helping consumers identify with the images presented. The importance of packaging design and the use of packaging, as a vehicle for communication and branding, are growing (Rettie and Brewer, 2000) One recent study estimated that 73 percent of purchase decisions are made at the point of sale, it means that a majority of consumers switch to one brand to its nearly alternative while purchasing, for example a housewife wants to have a jar of jam of a specific brand, if she does not find it in superstore, she might buy any similar brand in absence of her desired brand, this may cause her to believe that the new brand is somehow comparatively better than the previous one, hence next time she will visit to the store, she will surely go for the new brand instead of previous one. (Connolly and Davidson, 1996)

Packaging materials are used to communicate the messages of specific companies. Most of the branded companies have their particular brand slogans, which influences consumers towards their products. To achieve the communication goals effectively and to optimize the potential of packaging, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) manufacturers must comprehend consumer response to their packages, and incorporate the perceptual processes of the consumer into design. It is also observed that companies that sometimes failure of a product is not because of lack in product qualities but lack of presentations. (Nancarrow et al., 1998)

Almost all FMCG spend extra amount to figure out Consumers' perception and behavior, which is believed is not consistent across cultures. Although many industry observers believe that consumers worldwide are likely to have roughly similar response to many FMCG, despite cultural differences (The Nation, Bangkok, 2002) yet there are many cross-cultural researchers who believe vice versa, and assert that knowledge developed in one culture should be confirmed before use in new cultural contexts (e.g., Malhotra et al., 1996) The expansion of modern retailing helps drive this growth, so that packaging plays an increasingly critical role in merchandising and communication for FMCG (The Nation, Bangkok, 2002)

Viewing pollution problem of the world, it becomes essential to take necessary steps to reduce waste and garbage. The role of packaging in waste reduction is the most evident at food packaging. When food is processed and packaged, the food residues are often used as fuel, animal feed or some economically useful by-product. In absence of packaged processed food, the residues become garbage in the household.

Another reason why food packaging reduces waste is that it reduces spoilage. In developing countries food wastage is between 20-50% because of poor or the lack of packaging. In Europe, where packaging is used in handling, transport, containment and storage, food wastage is approximately 2-3%. (PIN, 1996) With increasing rates of appropriate packaging materials, the fraction of food wastes decreases. A survey conducted in this regards declare that Overall, for every 1% increase of packaging, food waste decreases by about 1.6%. (Scarlett, 1996)

Purpose of Packaging Materials:

1.        Physical Fortification

The objects enclosed in the package may require shield from many things like shock, shuddering, compression, high temperature, etc. Appropriate Packaging Material accumulates objects from all these hazards.

A good packaging material reduces the probability of product loss and wastage. Food products like as other products are to move from one place to another for instance first from factories to warehouses then from warehouses to depot and later on from depots to distributors and then from distributors to retailers and then to the end users. Proper handling needs either to depute huge manpower to avoid such losses (which will surely increase product cost, though product loss will not be prevented completely) or to use good packaging materials; naturally usage of proper packaging material is more feasible, though manpower is also used wherever needed.

2.        Protection

Food products can be kept safe for a long time, unless Oxygen, water vapor, dust, etc. may not affect them. Infiltration is a critical factor in designing packaging materials. Some packages contain desiccants or Oxygen absorbers to help extend shelf life, whereas usage of metallic sheet or poly film is quite normal in packaging of food related items to prevent oxygen. Modified atmospheres or controlled atmospheres are also maintained in some food packages. Keeping the contents clean, fresh, disinfected and safe for the intended shelf life is a primary function of packaging materials.

3.        Repression

Handling small objects separately is difficult than keeping them in one packet or box, hence diminutive objects are usually grouped together in one package instead of keeping them in different packages, for example, a single box of 1000 erasers requires less physical handling than 1000 single rubbers. Liquids, powders, and grainy materials need containment.

4.        Communication

Packages are properly labeled to provide information related to usage of product that how to use, transport, reprocess, or dispose of the package or product. Food, medical, chemical and pharmaceutical products are labeled proper manufacturing and expiry dates as well as suitable way of handling for example on some packages "keep in cold and dry place" is written because moisture and heat can cause hazardous change in the product, on some cartons stacking size has also mentioned to avoid any damage.

5.        Marketing

The packaging and labels are used to influence consumers to buy something. Package graphic design and physical design are chosen after thorough survey and deep study of consumers' taste and behavior. It has also been observed that products which were proved a complete failure became much popular, just after changing the design of packages. The color schemes, designs, packaging style and size are rightly called tools to sell anything.

6.        Safety Measures

Packaging plays imperative role in reducing safety risks of shipment. Prior packaging, need of safety measures are studied thoroughly. Good Packaging Material is the one that comprises tamper confrontation to deter tampering and also have tamper-evident features to help indicate tampering. Packages can be engineered to help reduce the risks of package pilferage: Some package constructions are more resistant to pilferage and some have pilfered indicating seals. Packages may include validation seals and use security printing to help indicate that the package and contents are not imitation. Packages also can include anti-theft devices, such as dye-packs, RFID tags, or electronic article observation tags that can be activated or detected by devices at exit points and require specialized tools to deactivate. Using packaging in this way is a means of loss deterrence.

7.        Convenience

Packages are designed to keep viewing convenience in distribution, handling, stacking, display, sale, opening, re-closing, use, dispensing, and reuse, for example a tin of cooking oil is not used only once, it is to be used time and again, hence there must be convenience in use as well as in reuse. On contrary a can of disposable beverage is not designed for reusing purpose and once the seal is opened, it is to be used in a limited time; else it will end its properties.

Many housewives are observed not using specific products because of inconvenience in use, despite knowing their low price or other benefits.

8.        Portion Control

Specific quantities or proper dosage of some products, e.g. salt, are required to be used. Bulk commodities (such as salt) can be divided into packages that are a more suitable size for individual households. It is also aids the control of inventory for example selling sealed one-liter-bottles of milk, rather than having people bringing their own bottles to fill themselves.

Types of Packaging Materials

The most widespread types of packaging material are paper, glass, aluminum, fiber board, plastic and steel.

Paper:

Paper is one of the most extensively used packaging materials, because of being light in weight, cheap in price and easily available. The use of corrugated cardboard, instead of wooden boxes, has reduced weight of packaging materials on one hand and made safe and easy transportation on the other hand.

Glass:

The use of Glass, as Packaging Material has almost been given up, especially for food items e.g. for beverages because any slight jerk or shock causes it to break into pieces, which is not only material loss but also is harmful for human health; usage of glass has been replaced with Tin and Plastic. Glass is the most common form of packaging waste, although it has been returned to the factories now days for recycling, yet because of its insecure nature, it is being avoided as packaging material.

Aluminum:

It iscommonly used inpackaging of food items,such asin cans of soft drinks and in tin packed provisions as foil to protect foodstuff from decomposition by preventing access of oxygen. The used aluminum as scrap is sold on high price because aluminum is recycled economically because 20 recycled aluminum cans, can be made with the energy it takes to manufacture one brand new one.

Steel:

Currently Steel is being used as packaging material for foods, beverages and paints as well as aerosols. Steel is recycled in great extent to minimize product cost. A survey declares that around 16% of energy saving is observed steel because of recycling of steel.

Plastic:

The use of plastic as packaging material brings so many advantages for instance plastic is light weighted, long lasting and easily available material. The cost of plastic is a bit cheaper as compare to aluminum and steel.

Mixed materials:

Instead of using a single material for packaging, the trend to use mixed materials is proven more beneficial in form of reducing energy consumption although combining different materials makes reprocessing difficult. Lack of facilities and necessary technologies to separate mixed materials have become great obstacle to recycle because without separating these materials contamination cannot be avoided.

Importance of Packaging & Branding in Marketing

Packaging and Branding are two sides of same coin and are essential for marketing. 'Branding' means to represent not only the name, description and design of a product but also to distinguish a company from its competitors'. Most of the brand conscious people believe that a specific brand actually represents the history and credibility of not only the brand but also the manufacturers, because using specific brand means trusting particular companies instead of their professional rivals. No brand can be popular without proper packaging hence it is rightly called that Packing is a marketing instrument, which attracts consumers and forms their trust on companies. People form their good or bad opinions about inside products through the outer look e.g. the colors, fonts, descriptions and logo. It is also experienced that a product, once proven failure, hit the consumer's choice later on when the look was improved.

Sales

Marketing Department focuses to strategize methods to sell company's products in presence of competitors. Packaging and Branding is actually twofold picture. It is said that people do not buy anything unless it looks great. Brand department conducts market surveys to discover new ways to influence more consumers than their competitors, so that more part of market may be captivated. New advertising techniques are discovered and adopted with the passage of time.

Brand campaigns are run in the most exclusive manners to form a cohesive brand or image. Brand department keeps an eye on market trends and in case the sale of concern product decreases, new and attractive ways are adopted to re-stable market position, sometimes change in color, size or packaging style revive a falling product. That is why many products are relabeled after a certain period of time by adding "new" in product name. Customers do not recognize the product but through the brands. It has also been experienced that when a group of consumers were offered to taste same products of different companies, including their own brand, without mentioning of products identities, only a few consumers chose their own brand, whereas majority either could not figure out any difference or chose products other than their brands.

Branding

Product appearance plays vital role in creation of brand. The product quality has secondary importance because once a consumer is influenced to use a product first time, the product quality can be known. On a survey conducted to find out consumer's market perception, while answering "why a product is purchased?" most of the answers were "because it is apparently good."

Brand is not only product introduction but also forms market image of company, for example soft drinks manufacturers are producing almost similar products but their consumers recognize their products through presentation style, color scheme and packaging uniqueness. Some experts believe that advertising, which provides information about objective attributes such as price and physical traits will influence brand associations. Advertising can make positive brand evaluations and attitudes readily accessible in memory Advertising also influences behavioral manifestations of brand equity. On average, market leaders spend 20 percent more of their budgets on advertising than do their nearest competitors.

There are different parameters or factors that force a customer to switch one brand to another. This individual varied behavior leads to study taxonomy of explanations for varied behavior. Experts of branding distribute these varied behaviors into "Derived" and "Direct" variation. "Derived varied behavior" refers to varied behavior that results from "forces that have nothing to do with a preference for change in and of itself" These forces are divided into "multiple needs" and "changes in the choice problem." Multiple needs include multiple users, contexts and uses.

There are empirical evidences indicating that varied consumption of the household may result from different usage purposes of the product as well as different users within the household. Changes in the choice problem are changes in the feasible set of alternatives, tastes and constraints (new brands, advertising, deals, etc.)

"Direct variation" explanations of varied behavior rely on the "inherently satisfying aspects of changing behavior" Interpersonal and intrapersonal motives are involved in direct variation. Interpersonal motives result from the needs for affiliation and distinction. Intrapersonal motives result from three main forces.

First is the desire for the unfamiliar cite empirical evidence on successful attempts to get stable and reliable measures of different aspects of this desire that is related to an ideal level of stimulation desired by the individual.

Second is the desire for information, to measure optimum stimulation levels. Consumers want information on familiar brands. This need for information arises when continued consumption of a particular brand creates confusion with regard to the worth of other brands.

The third type of "direct variation" that satisfies intrapersonal needs is alternation among the familiar. The studies in the areas of psychology of consumer behavior show that levels of stimulation can be raised by switching among familiar as well as unfamiliar brands. There is empirical evidence on the existence of ideal levels of attributes wanted by consumers in their consumption. This fact may result in switching among familiar brands that are rich in different attributes.

The present study interprets varied consumption as a result of variety seeking behavior, which is operational as a measure of individual tendency to vary consumption. This tendency is measured on a continuum that extends from extreme tendency to vary consumption to an extreme tendency to avoid variety.

It is possible to identify five major factors which influence the proportion of total product sales made by each brand of a product class displayed in a supermarket: (1) relative brand prices, (2) the proportion of display space allocated to each brand, (3) the quality of display space, (4) point-of-sale advertising and promotion, and (5) consumer brand attitudes and preferences. The first four of these factors are direct dimensions of the purchase environment. The fifth is a residual of advertising and promotion, habits and experience, which is brought to the purchase environment by the consumer. A primary objective of this analysis is to isolate and quantify the fifth item, namely, brand preferences of consumers.

The procedure outlined in the model essentially involves controlling the other four aspects of the purchase environment and thereby isolating the effect of brand preferences. In many merchandising situations, however, the effects of brand preferences and relative brand prices work together in either a cumulative or a compensating way. For this reason, it may also be of interest to quantify the combined effects of consumer brand preferences and differences in brand prices. While this is possible with the model and is discussed later, the basic model is developed to fit conditions where brand prices are equal. With equal brand prices, equal display quality conditions, and no point- of-sale advertising or promotion, it is hypothesized that the sales of each brand would be proportional to the display space allocated to each if all buyers were indifferent concerning brand choice.

Slogans

A slogan is a short, unforgettable grasp phrase, which are used as punch line in advertisement to summarize the whole product quality and usage in one or a few words. The company and product information details are associated with tagline or motto of slogans. Companies often use one or a few words slogans to catch the attention of consumers. These slogans are somehow interlinked with the image of product quality because it becomes a key component and are used as essential factor to recognize products for example, "Relax, it's FedEx" defines that a renowned American Courier Service is being discussed, similarly "I'm lovin' it!" mentions McDonalds and "Finger-lickin' good" denotes K.F.C (Kentucky Fried Chicken) "The Joy of Pepsi!" declares a beverage company, "Don't leave home without it." talks about American Express and "The Legend Leads" speaks out of Peek Freans. Many products are even known by their slogans instead of their own names.

Designs of Packaging

Suitable Packing is designed to captivate a customer's attention. The moment a consumer throws a glance towards products, his decision for whether or not to buy a product is formed on the basis of product appearance. A child will always reject product having dull colors whereas an old man will surely avoid using bright colored objects. A well marketed product is wrapped packaging, which suits the flavor of users. Mercedes can never be found in shocking pink color because people who use it, have sober taste and prefer elegance, whereas sports cars are manufactured in bright colors because the dominant users are young.

Color effects human behavior such as some colors make us happy whereas others make us sad. While making purchase decision, colour scheme becomes more obvious. The effect of colour has been studied widely to know the consumer's perception. (Imram, 1999) Consumer opinions of an adequate color are associated with discernments of other quality features, such as taste, aroma, satisfaction and nourishment levels. Positive effect can be gained by using one or more packaging variables. In some product clear packaging is sued to allow consumers to view food colour, incident light, and taxonomy. While making advertisement of food items, the best colour combination is used not only for plates having food items but also the clothes of models and the surroundings are used in contrast, so that the food product may feel better. In Café or Restaurants, the food products chosen for display and sale by caterers are selected for their color and appearance attributes (Imram, 1999)

Packaging Tools

Colors, fonts, descriptions and logos are important packing tools, which are used to form opinions of consumers regarding products. Products, having similar category, are distinguished by their prominent colors, fonts and sizes. Variation of color and font size etc. illustrates consumers that a certain product is somehow dissimilar with its competitors. Although products name are kept different, yet while keeping in shelf, they all look same from a distance, unless somebody examines them closely.

Stressing out essential of proper packaging Rettie & Brewer (2000) describe two elements of influencing consumers.

  1. verbal (for example, brand slogans)
  2. visual (visual apeal, picture, etc.)

Similarly Butkeviciene, Stravinskiene & Rutelione (2008) classify consumer's decision making process by mentioning these two elements. They discriminate between non-verbal elements of package (colour, form, size, imageries, graphics, materials and smell) and verbal elements of package (product name, brand, producer/ country, information, special offers, instruction of usage) Their classification includes brand as a verbal component, whereas Keller (2003), for example, considers packaging as one of the five elements of the brand, together with name, logo, graphic symbol, personality, and the slogans.

Visual descriptions on the package, is also an important attribute. Product pictures are used as strategic method of differentiation with such arrangements that consumers may take their notice at first glance. Once any product enhances access to consumer consciousness, it can convince him to buy something. This is why because seeing something creates more influences than mere listening or in other words pictures are tremendously vivid motivational compared to words (Underwood et al., 2001) Visualizing something effects more rapidly and easily for consumers and does not need complete involvement. Visual packaging information, being more eye-catching sets customers expectations for contents. The curiosity of customer enables him to have a positive association with the product whereas attractive appearance induces brilliant and constructive connection with the product.

Consumers' behavior, towards various objects, fluctuates with the passage of time and hence it becomes essential to bring change in product looks after spending a certain period of time. Manufacturers use different font style, apart of having different product names, sometimes irregular spelling is used to attain customer's attention for instance some manufacturers of cake spell the word with "K" instead of "C"

Company Representation

Although branding and packaging are created by a company, yet as a matter of fact they are important to form company image in market and in consumers' minds. Companies become familiar when their brands are acknowledged for instance whenever IBM is mentioned it leads the image of a more traditional, deep-rooted corporate culture and despite having many other branded and unbranded goods IBM, Compaq, Dell and Acer are distinguished because of their own qualities. A well known company has to work lesser to launch a new product than a newly established unidentified company because the credibility of eminent company illustrate people to rely and use new product for instance if a new product is launched by an unknown company people hesitate to use it but I they are told that the product is launched by a famous company like Unilever, they will surely trust the product qualities.

Packaging designs and logs are mark of identification of any product and acquaintance of product makes any company familiar as reliable in market such as the logo of an Italian chef explains that the product is some how related to the Italian food like pizza or logo of Pied Piper remembers people that Peak Freens products are being discussed.

Characteristics of Packaging Materials

Package Size:

Prior visiting market, a buyer has to decide how much quantity of his required product must be purchased to fulfill his need. Since consumers face scarcity of resources and abundance of wants, everyone tries to form symmetry between resources and wants by spending specific amount of money on various articles of goods according to need, for instance a person has Rs 100/- in his pocket and he needs potatoes and milk powder. He will have to decide how much quantity of both can fulfill his requirements. The size of Package plays essential role in consumer's decision of purchase, for example a family consisting of only two members will never buy a container of ten kg milk powder on contrary a large family will never procure half quarter of same. Viewing huge number of variety consumers, it is important to use an appropriate packaging standard size, so that every consumer may have product according to his needs.

The covariance of attention and size may cause the overall attention-attracting properties of a container's shape to bias or mentally "contaminate" volume judgments. External and irrelevant factors frequently intrude upon and contaminate judgments of objects, yet they are unrecognized because people often are unable to identify the basis for a judgment. (Wilson and Brekke 1994)

When judging size, people are accustomed to relying on their senses to make quick judgments without introspecting about why an object appears larger than another. For example, people accept that a half-gallon milk carton appears larger than a quart without analyzing why it does so. Further, attention can intrude upon size judgments because attention can be directed to objects automatically, without a consumer having to consciously deliberate over it. An individual might not even notice that he or she is comparing across packages in their attention-attracting abilities because comparative evaluations are so ingrained as to be spontaneous. A consumer might simply conclude that one package "seems bigger" without quite knowing why.

Although the paired comparisons methodology involves presenting participants with two packages simultaneously, attention should be directed to one object at a time. People find it difficult to attend to two objects simultaneously (Baylis and Driver 1993; Duncan 1984

Comparisons between two alternatives seem to be common when consumers choose products. Eye-tracking research shows that shoppers screen a grocery product class quickly, spending relatively more time directing their attention to two or three alternatives (Russo and Leclerc 1994)

Shape of Package

Size and shape also emerges as a crucial dimension. One way in which consumers appear to use these things is as a simplifying visual heuristic to make volume judgments. Generally, they perceive more elongated packages to be larger, even when they frequently purchase these packages and have experience using them. Disconfirmation of package size after consumption may not lead consumers to revise their volume judgment sufficiently in the long term, especially if the discrepancy is not very large (Raghubir and Krishna, 1999).

The importance of packaging design is vitally acknowledged because it helps companies to be familiar in people with their brand. Prior starting a business or launching new products, companies conduct market surveys to find out consumers' inclination because their basic motif, earning profit can never be succeeded unless they get the answer of the first and the most important question.

"What will touch Consumers' minds?"

Different people respond to different packages in different ways, depending on their involvement (Vakratsas and Ambler, 1999)

Increased competition is forcing brand managers of consumer goods to alter the portfolio of the package sizes they offer (Elliott 1993). In making these decisions, managers are beginning to speculate whether larger package sizes accelerate a consumer's usage volume of particular products. Indeed, a recent memo distributed within a large packaged goods company encouraged brand managers to "rethink how package sizes and shapes influence (pouring) volume" before making package-related decisions in their product line. In effect, the interest of these managers is shifting from how consumers choose brands to how they use them (Wansink 1994a). Although some managers assume that that larger package sizes encourage consumers to use more (per usage occasion) than smaller package sizes, the support is only anecdotal and these assumptions are becoming a source of controversy. Managers are interested in selling more of a product, where- as public policy officials are interested in decreasing the amount that a consumer wastes (Shapiro 1993). At the center of this issue is the relationship between package size and usage volume.

The aim here is to help clarify this issue by

1. Empirically determining whether package size has an impact on the usage volume of branded products

and

2. Investigating the reasons for any such impact.

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).

This defines methodology to understand consumers' behavior towards similar existing products and provides probability of the success of any new launch. "How packaging elements can affect buying decisions?" is the basic element of running a business, for instance all articles related to children no matter toys or edible goods, are wrapped in bright colors, whereas articles for mature and grown ups have sobriety in them.

Straight shape has a positive utility compared to curvy, as does classic design on the package compared to colorful. This suggests that, overall the respondents may be more attracted to a package that seems familiar and reliable, rather than exciting. Focus group work also indicated that Thai consumers strongly prefer more familiar products. Without their usual choices, another product from a well-known company would be perceived as more reliable (Silayoi and Speece, 2004)

Different shapes and sizes of packaging obscure the ability of consumers to make correct judgments about the quantity of a product to purchase. Some package sizes vary because of the nature of the products (e.g., meat) but for others the basis of variation cannot be justified for example there are countless sizes, colors and shapes of shampoos, which confuse consumers. The puzzlement can be overcome by the consumers by reading labels thoroughly because most product labels provide particular information. The comparison of product volumes must be made after paying attention on product labels which provide all relevant information regarding sizes and standard units (e.g. fluid is compared in ounces and solid in kg etc.)

Most of the Shoppers usually do not show consideration to read product label and consequently the variance of sizes creates ambiguity. (Cole and Balasubramanian1993; Dickson and Sawyer 1990) Although consumers shop with their eyes, yet they pay little attention towards the volume information mentioned on labels (Cole and Balasubramanian1993)

As a matter of fact there are only a few consumers who read complete label prior buying anything but providing complete information of product on labels save many problems occur due to negligence such as people with high cholesterol must avoid fatty and rich in protein products to avoid any harm. Food labels provide complete information about products and one can form his opinion whether or not to buy a certain product in light of these information.

Generally, differentiating among several objects becomes more complicated as the magnitude of the dissimilarity decreases. (Banks, Mermelstein, and Yu 1982)

When consumers compare the volume of two similarly sized packages, that judgment may be contaminated by a factor that typically co-varies with size differences that one container attracts more attention than the other. If one of the two containers attracts more attention, consumers may misattribute the greater attention they subjectively experience as being paid to that package to a size difference. This intrusion may occur unconsciously so that consumers do not recognize its influence.

Product Safety

The functions of Packaging can be distributed into three main categories representing three "Cs" i.e. Cover from loss (Protection) Comfort (user friendly) and Communication (conveys messages of manufacturers and portrays good market image of products as well as producers) The security measures or cover from loss mean to protect product from internal and external loss e.g. damages during packing at factories or while carrying from one place to another for instance from factories to the distributors or retailers later on keeping safe and prolonging shelf life till the end users have them.

Comfort is also a phase of Product safety, which causes good business relations and prolongs products reputations in market, for example cooking oil once used to be packed in air tight sealed tin containers. Those containers were best according to product safety but could not be proven user friendly because users had to cut the seal with cutters, which sometimes used to cause wounded hands of housewives. Those tin packed products could not be stored longer at homes because once the tin was opened it was to be used within specific time. Later on tin lids were placed instead of sealed tin sheet. The journey of making products more comfortable and user friendly resulted usage of plastic cans instead of tin containers, which not only save hands from wounds but also proven portable due to lighter weight.

The quality and safety of food is a major benchmark of the economic development and people's living conditions. Freshness and taste of the edible items completely depend upon the well developed packaging.

Packed Foods are now ubiquitous all over the world hence a lot of universal corporations compete to capture the large shares of packed food market. To survive in this throat cut competition as well as improve the safety and appeal of these products, most appropriate food packaging is of great importance. Companies produce in bulk quantities to minimize product cost and to store goods for continuous supply.

For instance, in Biscuit Manufacturing Companies, to keep the biscuits crispy, crunchy and tasty for long duration, flawless biscuits packaging plays a pivotal role. Being extremely soft in quality, biscuits need proper packaging, which could protect them from humidity and any kind of damage. Moisture proof, durable and appealing edible packaging is the key to enhance the shelf life, brand image and marketability of edible products.

Shelf Life of Product

Shelf life encompasses both safety and quality of food. Safety and spoilage-related changes in food occur by three modes of action; biological (bacterial/enzymatic), chemical (auto-oxidation/pigments), and physical.

Active packaging may intervene in the deteriorative reactions by; altering the package film permeability, selectively absorbing food components or releasing compounds to the food. The addition of shelf life extending compounds to packaging films rather than directly to food can be used to provide continued inhibition for product stabilization. For further processed foods with greater than one week shelf life, active packaging can provide an added level of protection downstream in the distribution cycle. Direct addition of antimicrobials for instance, will have a strong initial effect but will have little effect later in the distribution cycle since the antimicrobial will react with food components or be absorbed into the food bulk. For non-fluid foods, the deteriorative reactions occur primarily at the food surface. Thus, less antimicrobial will be needed when used in the package since the compound will be released at the location of need, the food surface will be highlighted that focus on using compounds that are either approved for food use or are food components.

Antimicrobials used include nisin, lauric acid, and EDTA while antioxidants added to films include BHT, BHA, and rosemary extract. Film and coating materials include soy, wheat, corn, and polyethylene. Pathogens including Salmonella and Listeria have been inhibited by several combinations of antimicrobials and film or coating types. Positive results for food shelf life extension have been shown by the application of active packaging.

Convenience of Storage

While buying something on monthly consumption basis, consumers do not buy anything in bulk quantity, which occupies more space, because unlike departmental stores or supermarkets, there is limited space at homes. Consumers' preference will always be convenience of storage instead of need for example despite consuming 20 lit of cooking oil, a consumer might not prefer one container of 20 Lit, his preference will be four cans of 5 Lit because using 5 Lit can is more comfortable rather than 20 Lit container. On contrary a family having small members would also buy 5 Lit can because big packing like as 20 Lit container will surely be useless for it on contrary small packing of quarter Lit will not be easy to store for a long time because it will occupy more area and space for other articles would not be left.

Convenience of Use

Currently convenience of edible goods become essential, since growing busyness makes people much too time conscious and they pay more attention towards new technologies for time saving. Time consuming packaging materials have been replaced with time sharing materials. This thing compels manufacturers to pace ahead in the field of advancement. (Silayoi and Speece, 2004)

Generally Consumers buy things which are more convenient to use as compare to inconvenience and hard labour for example in old days utensils of clay were in use later utensils made up of bronze became familiar but when stainless steel was introduced it easily taken the place. In food industries consumers prefer those products which can easily be used and can stored in small place. Products are designed keeping in view of consumers' convenience for example all products designed for children such as chocolates, cookies and jellies are packed in the manner children can easily open, further more packing size is taken viewing convenience of consumers for example food products specially FMCG are not made heavy enough, which could not be transported easily. They are rather designed in comfortable way that an individual may easily carry them wherever he wants.

Environmental pollution is the burning question at present. The awareness about this growing danger is increasing with the passage of time and at the result safety measures are taken in every walk of life, especially in use of packaging materials and the use of echo-friendly packaging materials has become order of the day. In old days, packaging materials were not good enough to recycle later on it was decided to spend a little more amount on packaging materials to make them stronger, so that their reuse may be easy. Glass was once used as packaging materials for food items especially for beverages but since the ratio of wastage of glass was very high, it was decided to use something else, different items for instance tin, fibre, aluminium and steel were used but some of them were much too costly and others were too heavy to use as portable. The usage of plastic has solved this problem in some extent though the research is going on and perhaps in recent future something more feasible may be used instead of plastics.

The disposal of wastage of packaging materials is also a core issue for all industries in general and for FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) in special because direct link with food items, make FMCG more concern to protect environment as well as food items. In most of the places unfortunately burning is the only solution for unused garbage, which causes pollution. In some developed countries to handle wastage properly, reprocessing plants are installed where garbage is reused either in form of their current shape or in some cases are melt to remake the same packaging materials for instance broken glass pieces are melt and used to make glass again.

The situation gets worst in developing countries where according to Patrick Dodd (President of Nielson Europe) "eco-friendly packaging might not be the top priority for shoppers today" because of lack of knowledge consumers do not insist for environmental-friendly packaging materials they rather go for a little cheap though dangerous for environment goods. Manufacturers, on the other hand make the most of the situation by using cheap packing materials to minimize product cost. It has become essential to illustrate people of developing countries regarding safety issues as well as to convince manufacturers to prefer safe packaging materials. This may cause a little expensive but it will surely save the general health by reducing pollutions and will be helpful to produce a healthy society.

Extra Use of Package

The Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) packaging is dependent on sound design both to attract consumers and structural practicality. Across the globe, there are four key trends in packaging—convenience of usage, freshness & improved shelf life, sustainable and environment-friendly packaging—as a tool to position and promote a brand,

One of packaging functions is to communicate product information, which can assist consumers in making their decisions carefully. An example of such significant information is food labeling. The trend towards healthier eating has highlighted the importance of labeling, which allows consumers the opportunity to cautiously consider alternatives and make informed food choices (Coulson, 2000)

Packaging at the Point of Sale

Packaging seems to be one of the most important factors in purchase decisions made at the point of sale (Prendergast and Pitt, 1996)

Packaged food products are moving into ever larger supermarkets and hypermarkets, and there is a propagation of products, offering consumers vast choice. The competitive context is ever more intense, both in the retail store and household. With the move to self-service retail formats, packaging increases its key characteristic as the "salesman on the shelf" at the point of sale. The critical importance of packaging design is growing in such competitive market conditions, as package becomes a primary vehicle for communication and branding (Rettie and Brewer, 2000)

The role of packaging in marketing communications is further advanced by recent developments in technology (McNeal and Ji, 2003) Rundh (2005) declares that good packaging draws and holds consumer's attention towards specific brand, increases its likeness, and manipulates consumer's perceptions to purchase the product. Package brings uniqueness of product in notice of consumer (Underwood, Klein & Burke, 2001; Silayoi & Speece, 2004)

A well suited packaging material works as an instrument to differentiate a product from a wide range of other products having similar qualities and helps customers to finalize his buying behavior (Wells, Farley & Armstrong, 2007). It can be claimed that package performs a vital role in marketing connections and can be treated as one of the most major feature to pursue consumer's purchase judgment. In this context, seeking to optimize the effectiveness of package in a buying place, the researches of package, its elements and their impact on consumer's buying behaviour became a relevant issue.

Package Attractiveness

In old days when consumers do not have more choices because of having only a few products of limited companies but currently the world has become global village and nothing is far from the reach of consumers. Now the consumers are well aware not only to the local developments but also to the world wide changes occurring on daily basis. Growing competition vitalized the importance of product positioning. The selection of suitable product positioning, as a marketing strategy, is rightly called the first step because it can be the first step towards either success or failure. (Ramsay, 1983; McAlexander et al., 1993)

Unlike old days when salesman used to tell consumers product qualities, now consumers enjoy self service in departmental stores and in supermarkets. From the consumers' point of view, packaging plays important role for making purchase decision: The role of packaging is central because it is the first thing that a customer sees and as a matter of fact product appearance finalizes decision of whether procuring something or not. (Vidales Giovannetti, 1995).

The popularization of self-service sales systems is due to the human psychology that humans prefer to choose something themselves rather than being told by someone else. Consumers now buy thongs according to their aesthetic senses and as a result manufacturers have to pay more attention to know what amuses customers rather than what suits manufacturers. (Cervera Fantoni, 2003).

Sonsino (1990) believes that the role of sales assistant has gradually been transferred to the packaging materials. Packaging is correctly called "the silent salesman" because it informs consumers the qualities of products, which he is going to purchase and consume. (Vidales Giovannetti, 1995) At present packaging offers opportunity to the manufacturers to persuade buyers prior brand selection (McDaniel and Baker, 1977)

Various marketing surveys prove that it is not necessary that failure of a product is due to quality, there might be some other factors for instance perhaps the product is not kept in proper position where it could attract consumers or perhaps the outer presentation of the product may not magnetize consumers.

Packaging is not just a mere source to store food for selling, it is a marketing tool that directly affects consumers' mind and form their perception for whether or not to buy something. Product attraction is dependant to the outer attraction. Anything that is not eye-catching may never be sold out in huge extent. While visiting super markets or departmental stores many people buy lots of things that they actually either do not need or if needed they could have bought the nearest well-matched.

A package that attracts consumers at the point of sale will help them make decisions quickly 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 divergence between classifying and missing the item (Herrington and Capella, 1995).

Food products brands use a range of packaging attributes, combining colors, designs, shapes, symbols, and messages (Nancarrow et al., 1998

Consumer intention to purchase depends on the degree to which consumers expect that the product can satisfy their expectations about its use (Kupiec and Revell, 2001).

Packaging must be attention-grabbing to stand out from other similar products, because it is believed that apparently attractive products compel consumer to purchase them. Consumers normally do not switch from one product to another without having sound reasons. These reasons are nothing else but to make them realize that the new product is same but has some different tendencies as well, for instance despite having many chocolate manufacturing companies, every new manufacturer will not be welcomed to influence consumers, unless they manage to prove that their product is better than existing products. Every company tends to prove that their product is somehow different to their competitors and can fulfill the needs of their consumer in better way. Packaging is the first step to make consumers buy something and plays vital role to either make a product sellable or to prove it a complete failure, as it is believed that

"Anything, which is apparently excellent and can attract attentions of consumers, can easily be sold."

Designing food packaging is not a child's play or easy task it rather takes essence of experience and expertise to visualize what customers really want. Product presentation is indispensable because it can either make the reputation of a product or break it. The questions which colour scheme, product size, style and even font size will be well-suited to the customers compel companies to perform better in the field of marketing research as well as in the field of R&D (Research and Development)

Marketing success is associated with the knowledge of customers' taste and positioning goods in more attractive manners. Sales Representatives advice shopkeepers to position products in the way customers can see easily, on the other hand marketing department tries to make product attention-grabbing, so that the moment a customer glances towards the product he may not move ahead without buying it.

To achieve the communication goals effectively and to optimize the potential of packaging, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) manufacturers must understand consumer response to their packages, and integrate the perceptual processes of the consumer into design (Nancarrow et al., 1998).

Product positioning is the most important factor to form perception of consumers and taking into consideration the rest of the market offers. Therefore, in order to obtain a particular position, consumer product perceptions must be analyzed in great detail. The reason for this is that the perceptions of a given set of consumers reflect and inspire at the same time the company's strategy for its products.

Once the positioning plan has been completed (and the company knows how it wants to present itself to the market with respect to its competition), the company implements a plan of action through the construction of a suitable marketing mix (Brooksbank, 1994)

Quality judgments are largely influenced by product characteristics reflected by packaging, and these play a role in the formation of brand preferences. If the package communicates high quality, consumers frequently assume that the product is of high quality. If the package symbolizes low quality, consumers transfer this "low quality" perception to the product itself (Underwood et al., 2001; Silayoi and Speece,2004)

References:

Rita Kuvykaite, Aiste Dovaliene, Laura Navickiene "IMPACT OF PACKAGE ELEMENTS ON CONSUMER'S PURCHASE DECISION" JOURNAL OF ECONOMICS AND MANAGEMENT 2009.

Pinya Silayoi, Mark Speece "Packaging and Purchase decision" Journal of British Food 2004.

Robert L underwood, Noreen M Klien, Raymond R Burke "Packaging communication: attentional effects of product imagery" Journal of product and brand management 2001.

Olga Ampuero, Natalia Vila "Consumer perceptions of product packaging" Journal of consumer Marketing 2006.

Pinya Silayoi, Mark Speece "The importance of packaging attributes: a conjoint analysis approach" European Journal of Marketing 2007.


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