The affect of change in packaging design on consumers' conscious and unconscious perception of the brand

Camilla Fagerstrøm Slåtten & Iselin Hedenstad

Student thesis: Master thesis


Change of packaging design within fast moving consumer goods immediately raises the important question of how much the packaging design should be changed compared to its current design. Marketers and academics have long been discussing the affect of change in packaging design on consumers’ brand perception. However, the recipe for the right balance between strong and mild change, and novelty and familiarity is yet to be discovered. This thesis aims to investigate the contrary questions of how much the packaging design of fast moving consumer goods can be changed before it becomes unacceptable in the consumers’ mind, and how much it should be changed in order to make a significant difference in the consumers’ perception of the brand. As an attempt to answer these questions the study explores the conscious and unconscious affect of change in packaging design on consumers’ perception of a brand. Based on the subjects’ perceived degree of redesign, liking, memory (conscious), and reaction time (unconscious) it was conducted a conscious and unconscious study of the consumers’ brand perception and made statistical analyses. A sample of 133 participants was exposed to 10 brands in three different packaging design versions, whereas two of the designs were fictive redesigns. The results suggest that consumers perceive the degree of packaging redesign in accordance with the actual degree of redesign, and are generally capable of distinguishing between an extensive and a moderate change in product packages that are familiar to them. Another sample of 40 participants was analyzed through E-prime exposure of 20 brands in three different packaging designs. The results suggest that consumers’ liking and reaction time are affected by the degree of change in packaging design, which gives implications for its affect on consumers’ conscious and unconscious perception of the brand. Extensive packaging redesign was found to decrease conscious liking, and increase reaction time which implies decrease in unconscious wanting but increase in attention towards the brand. Moderate packaging redesign was found to increase conscious liking compared to the extensive redesign, and decrease reaction time, thus increase unconscious wanting and decrease attention towards the brand. Overall, incremental changes in packaging design are recommended, as it in a larger extent preserves the balance between package novelty and brand familiarity by retaining the main characteristics of the brand. Finally, it is recommended to use more than two visual elements on a packaging. Color, image and typography are highly recommended to include on any packaging design of FMCG.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages154