Packaging design as an implicit communicator: Effects on product quality inferences in the presence of explicit quality cues

Iris van Ooijen*, Marieke L Fransen, Peeter W.J. Verlegh, Edith G Smit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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In this work we examine the interactive effect of packaging design and explicit packaging cues on quality inferences. Although the effect of explicit cues on product perception has been studied extensively, systematic research on this topic is still in its infancy. Furthermore, it has never been investigated whether design cues and explicit cues interact with each other in eliciting product inferences. Gaining knowledge about these effects is important, because in real-life situations consumers are predominantly exposed to product packaging that contains both subtle and explicit cues. In this work we examine how value – a dimension of colour that is related to “darker” versus “lighter” colours – affects product inferences. Two studies demonstrate that consumers use value as a cue to make product quality related inferences. Furthermore, we examine how consumers make product quality interferences when packaging design cues are congruent and incongruent with explicit quality cues. Based on Cue Consistency Theory (Maheswaran & Chaiken, 1991; Miyazaki, Grewal, & Goodstein, 2005) and information diagnosticity, we predicted that packaging design cues only affect quality inferences when they are congruent with explicit cues. Contrary to Cue Consistency Theory, results indicate that overall, packaging design affects quality inferences independently from explicit attribute cues. They emphasize the communicative power of packaging design, and value in particular.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-79
Number of pages9
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Early online date12 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Cue consistency
  • Design
  • Explicit cues
  • Packaging
  • Quality perception
  • Value


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