p.p1 product or brand, ensuring that customers stay

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Branding can be defined as “the process of giving a meaning to specific products by creating and shaping a brand in consumers’ minds.” (Andrivet, M. 2017.)  Companies have developed a strategy which enables consumers to distinguish a particular product or brand, ensuring that customers stay faithful to their commodities over competitors. The mass production of consumer goods in the present-day produces an abundance of variation and choice for the modern consumers, leaving brands to compete over their loyalty. 
According to the American Marketing Association (2017), a package is “used to protect, promote, transport and/or identify a product”. Factors such as shape, material, colours and logos all contribute visual cues which communicate brand personality through packaging (Robert L. Underwood, 2003). The average shopper spends around 50 minutes shopping, and purchases around 50 items. With roughly 45,000 units in average UK supermarkets, consumers pick one item from a possible 900 every minute. (Leighton and Bird, 2012). Packaging must make a distinct impact on the consumer within milliseconds, in order to have a chance of being purchased, and therefore is the key factor when it comes to selling a product off the shelf. The fact we have so much choice makes it hard for products to be successful if consumers are not ‘loyal’ to that brand.
This report aims to investigate the degree to which consumers rely on leading brands to produce quality products, and to what extent packaging design could cause them to steer in another direction.

2.0 – Literature review

Packaging plays one of the most important roles when it comes to selling an item. As a tool for advertising in itself, Rundh (2005) describes it as a “silent salesman”. Packaging has become itself a “sales promotion” instrument for companies (Raheem, Vishnu and Ahmed, 2014). Packaging influences customers’ understanding of a brand, as well as engages attention and amplifies the brand image to an audience (Rundh, 2005). As well as being key in protecting the contents through shipping and handling processes, packaging is not only key in communicating the brand as a visual cue, but also as a source of information as to what the user can expect to find inside the box (Agariya et al., 2012). The 4 P’s of marketing are inclusive of price, product, place and promotion (Magrath, 1986). These key elements of marketing are the “key decision areas that marketers must manage in order to facilitate the exchange or transfer of goods, services, or ideas so that they may satisfy customer needs better than the competition” (Zineldin & Philipson, 2007). However due to the ever expanding  need for aesthetic packaging and recognition of brands, packaging may need to be added to conclude a 5th ‘P’.
Packaging differentiates each product when on the shelf; consumers’ first and lasting impressions are based upon the outer packaging design of a product, as a lot of the time packaging independently holds the position of a product in the “eye of the consumer” (Stewart, 1996). It is therefore apparent that consumers base their initial selections on the aesthetic of packaging designs (Schmitt and Simonson, 1997), especially as packaging is often noticed 4.7 to 6 seconds before price (Chandon et al., 2006). On top of this, consumers are progressively increasing their demand for products with an abundance of quality and choice (Armstrong, Farley and Wells, 2007), meaning that packaging really needs to stand out to make a visual impact. On the other hand, increasing false claims and accusations on packaging (such as health information on food packets), leads other consumers to distrust first appearances on labels . For example, a study conducted on food packaging for children led to the conclusion that marketing regulations should be extended to packaging, due to misleading information (Mehta et al., 2012). 

Kevin Keller (2003) explains how information may be linked to a brand, such as thoughts, feelings, attitudes and experiences. These “dimensions” (Keller, 2003) of understanding a brand ultimately relate to a consumers purchasing habits; each person generates an individual idea of how they define it themselves as brand equity links to a persons “gut feeling” (Newmeier, M. 2006). Furthermore, brands allow consumers to face less risk when purchasing an item they have little knowledge on. Leighton and Bird (2012), measured the impact branding has on consumers by manipulating sizes of key logos presented on packaging. They were able to conduct eye-tracking tests and visual searching experiments with 35 people using photoshopped images. The results found, prove that when logos were reduced by 50%, consumers paid much less attention to the products’ brand, which therefore can have an extremely negative outcome for companies, when consumers are unable to easily find the brands that are sought after; especially as a product is more likely to be chosen if it is given more observation by consumers. (Chandon et al., 2002).
The competitiveness driven by mass-manufacturing feeds the ever increasing subliminal marketing hacks that mass producers deliver, ensuring that products are instantly recognisable as they are much more likely to be sold when recognised. Almost double the amount spent on advertising and other promotional tactics, is spent on packaging and packaging design, highlighting the importance of this field (Sara, R. 1990).

Valarie Zeithaml (1988) described perceived quality as “the consumer’s judgment about a product’s overall excellence or superiority”. A product’s quality is individually interpreted by each consumer; all with varying reactions and feelings to different brands, the quality of each product is strictly personal. David Aaker’s (1991) Brand Equity model, identifies five elements that strengthens the connection to a brand; loyalty, awareness, perceived quality, associations and other proprietary assets. When looking at perceived quality, product quality can be judged by other criteria including price, positioning against competitors, the brand and the number of brand extensions. Although he argues that there is a strong correlation between price and quality of a product, Zeithaml (1988) argued that a quality versus price relationship does not exist if there are other extrinsic cues involved, for example branding, colour and even store reputation.

The price of a product declares a direct correlation with how quality is perceived by consumers; typically the higher the price, the better the quality of the product. Research of 36 studies led Rao and Monroe (1989) to the conclusion that not only do “perceived differences in prices” prove that “relative judgements on product quality varies significantly,” but also that price is arguably one of the most dominant extrinsic cues when looking at product quality. The perception of a product’s price influences the consumers decision to invest; although a consumer will not pay for a product that is obviously overpriced, they may also be wary of the quality of a product if underpriced (Dodds, Monroe and Grewal, 1991). However, other studies conducted prove other cues are of higher importance, for example a questionnaire completed by 640 participants showed that brand name signals is valued over price or physical appearances of a product as an indicator of quality (Dawar and Parker, 1994). Naturally, consumers have their individual opinions on the quality of a specific brand when acquainted with both extrinsic and intrinsic cues of a product. David Aaker (1991) claims that stronger branding comes with a higher price due to the inflated quality affiliated with that specific brand. 

A study conducted by Benny Rigaux-Bricmont (1982) allowed participants to try certain coffee from various companies, of which some brands were hidden. In order to test the relationship between branding on packaging and perceived product quality, evidence showed that both brand names and packaging influence a consumer when buying off the shelf. In conclusion “brand name disclosure induces a psychological added value on the perceived quality” (Benny Rigaux-Bricmont, 1982). Similarly, it has been found that the reaction towards visual packaging has an impact on perceived product quality, as well as brand preferences (Wang, 2013). A good quality product at a reasonable price will make a consumer want to purchase it again, enabling them to become loyal to that particular brand. However, researchers may argue and reinforce the idea that an existing experience with a product is worthless when determining quality (Rust & Oliver, 1994). Although packaging is an “extrinsic” part of a specific product, it does not act as a part of the tangible product consumers will ultimately be using (Olson and Jacoby, 1972). Moreover, another study asked housewives to decide which product they would buy when faced with 5 different brands. Although price proved to be a key influence when considering products, the participants showed that the cues of both price and brand name were not a precise indicator of product quality (Olson and Jacoby, 1972). This suggests that intrinsic cues, for example appearance, taste and materials, are also essential when judging perceived quality.