Cultural Differences in Perception of Premium Packaged Foods: A Cross-cultural Study Examining How Packaging Colour and Level of Complexity Influence Chinese and Danish Consumers’ Perception of Premium Chips, Chocolate and Tea Product Packages

Dobromira Kiryakova & Szu-Ying Wu

Student thesis: Master thesis


Packaging design plays an important role in consumers’ everyday interaction with thousands of products, since it can successfully draw or even repel consumers attention in a very short amount of time at the point of sale, in both physical and online store environment. Moreover, for global companies it is extremely challenging to successfully market their products among consumers from different cultural groups, especially when they try to differentiate themselves from the competitor brands by offering products of a superior price or quality. In this context, the current study tries to investigate which packaging cues attract more visual attention, are more preferred and perceived as more premium by consumers from different cultures. More specifically the research tests the perception of packaging colour (i.e. blue and yellow packages) and the level of complexity (i.e. complex and simple visual designs) among consumers from Denmark and China for three packaged food categories (i.e. chips, chocolate and tea). With the aim of a laboratory eye-tracking experiment and an online survey this research enables a cross-cultural comparison and contributes for a further understanding of consumers’ visual patterns, preferences and product evaluations by testing if these can be influenced by the deeply embedded cultural meanings and associations consumers are believed to hold about particular colours or design patterns, as suggested by the literature. The results from the study illustrate that participants from both cultural groups have similar visual patterns and preferences, as the blue and the complex premium packages were found as overall more favourable and more visually attractive. However, there were still some differences between the two cultural groups, as participants from the Chinese culture preferred the yellow packages and the more complex designs a lot more than their Danish counterparts. On the contrary, the latter group preferred blue and complex packages significantly more than did participants from the Chinese culture. Hence, there are still some cultural-specific characteristics that should be taken into consideration when entering new markets and developing new products. Overall, the combination of traditional marketing models and research techniques with insights from a neuromarketing study in a unique research setting, was able to contribute to the existing literature with an extended investigation of cultural-based colour and complexity meanings and variations in consumer behaviour in connection to premium packaging design.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages170
SupervisorsJesper Clement