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The Effect of Product Packaging and Product Shelf Placement on the Consumers’ Perception

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Manufacturers and retailers are continually bombarding their products on the customers, marketing them to make their work better attracted or perceived than their competitors. They are using different techniques to register their product in consumers’ minds. Marketers are using unique and innovative steps to make on the point purchase decision favouring their work. In this race of gaining a competitive edge over others, they are playing with customer perception.


According to psychology, perception is defined as our ability to respond or act when exposed to external stimuli. We are told to thousands of inspirations; we ignore many and respond to specific. This kind of human behaviour that accepts or perceives one signal positively while rejecting others is influenced by different environmental stimuli like the extent of exposure. Sometimes repeated exposure to one kind of incentives can either make us oversensitive or desensitized to the stimulus. Additionally, our perception is affected by the amount of attention we focus on something. As already defined, perception does not mean becoming just aware of the surroundings; instead, it involves processing and interpreting stimuli, which generates our response or action. Hence, our process of recognizing a specific inspiration depends on the number of times we are exposed and the amount of attention given to a particular stimulus.

The Effect of Product Packaging and Product Shelf Placement on the Consumers’ Perception

This explains why marketers are working hard on understanding the relationship between consumer perception and product selection. Over the past few decades, the marketing environment has become increasingly complex and also highly competitive. Successful businesses are spending more to understand how to leverage the different factors that influence consumer buying behaviour to market their products virtually and, in return, be able to maximize sales. Many researchers have added their input in this field, but it’ sits not sufficient. Studies have highlighted four main factors that generally play a role in the consumer’s buying behaviour: cultural factors, social factors, personal factors and psychological factors. Of many of the psychological aspects, the most important one is perception; as we have seen, most in-store purchases depend on consumer perception. Thus, we can say that retailers or marketers are playing with consumer perception to sell their products.

Of many of the factors that trigger consumer purchase intention in-store, the two important ones are the product shelf placement and product packaging. Perhaps, the positioning and order, along with the attractive packaging of a product on the shelf in a store, really matters and is directly linked to the respective development’s product’s sales. One cannot negate the importance of advertising as a highly effective means of communication used to inform the consumer about a product. Still, media fragmentation has made the situation highly competitive for marketers to reach and communicate with customers, forcing them to adopt more innovative means of getting to their target market (Hill and Tilley, 2002). Hence, in the current marketing environment, packaging cannot be denied as an innovative marketing tool, as it reaches a broad target audience.

Many people have claimed that products stacked on the middle shelf tend to gain more consumer intention rather than effects on the lower and higher bracket. Still, Frank & Massy (1970) have argued this statement; they have declared that the volume of assortments available in a store impacts the product placement on the shelf level. Bultez & Naert (1988) believe that consumers usually ignore the brands, and their products are not placed at the consumer’s optimal eye level as it hinders the consumer perceptual process. Moreover, shelf placement has a positive impact on sales. By the research of Reinartz & Kumar (1999), the most critical factors that impact consumer purchase are the store location, in-store attractiveness, placement, or the arrangement of products within the store. 

Cox (1964) has proved that not all the product types’ placement on the shelf impacted consumer buying behaviour. Some products fall out of this impact, and these products include the staple products that are the necessity of the products other than impulse products.

Major purchasing decisions are made at the point of purchase (Kollat & Willett, 1967), and many factors at the end of sale contribute to making a purchase decision. The factors include the product appeal, and in product appeal, the first and foremost things to be considered are the packaging and shelf placement of the product. This is how marketers make their products appealing to consumer perception. Moreover, shelf placement includes numerous factors: shelf space, variety, the gap between work and floor, and a total number of rows in a shelf and still many to find (Chiang & Wilcox, 1997). 

Many types of research” have been conducted on the product packaging, highlighting the critical purpose of packaging, i.e. it should help make products stand out from the rest of its kind. We have seen that marketers are spending more and more on finding ways to attract customers to purchase or notice their products. They ignore the ethical considerations while doing so, peeping into consumers, or it’s better to say public minds and to play with them. The very purpose of this research is to highlight the many ways through which the marketers are trying to alter the free will of the consumer. 

Literature Review

When numerous brands and their products encounter consumer steps into a shopping mart, s/him, many questions are in consumer’s minds, what to buy, which brand to try, and lots of other stuff. So how the consumer should decide which product to buy? Should it be a free choice or a forced one?

Extensive literature is available regarding product placement on the shelf and packaging in different environmental settings. Bultez & Naert (1988) conducted an in-store experiment in Cash-Battard on dog- food assortments, and it implemented S.H.A.R.P. that resulted in the increased profitability ranging from 6.9% to 33.8%. Therefore, S.H.A.R.P.’s implementation directly impacts sales, so the manufacturers should give significant product shelf placement importance. Moreover, this study has opened new horizons to conduct a further in-store experiment with different assortments and re-confirm the test result. Perhaps, factors like brand loyalty and package size purchasing habits can off-set the study results.

Furthermore, Cox (1964), in his article titled “The Responsiveness of Food Sales to Shelf Space Changes in Supermarkets,” has mentioned the impact of product shelf placement on sales. He has declared that food product sales are responsive to shelf space changes and that ““impulse”” items are relatively more responsive than staples. The method used for studying the same relation was randomized grouping design and Latin square design. He had emphasized that there is always ““battle of shelf space”” between manufacturers and retailers because both want to increase the sales. Moreover, his study revealed that not every product type is affected by its in-store shelf placement.

The article ““Shelf Position and Space Effects on Sales”” written by Frank & Massy (1970), has also elaborated on the impact of product shelf placement on the sales of the product. Moreover, the researchers selected retail shelf merchandising policies on the sales of particular brand & size combinations for a branded, frequently purchased grocery product. A cross-sectional analysis was conducted to study product shelf position; the study included the rows, length, and shelf height. The researcher found that the lower shelves are more effective in high volume stores with small container sizes. Thus, the shelf’s dimensions matter and the store’s capacity and product packaging to do issues.

Curhan (1973), in his article ““Shelf Space Allocation and Profit Maximization in Mass Retailing”” has stated the relationship of shelf space allocation on unit sales. The researcher has suggested SLIM (Store Labor and Inventory Management), a scheme for allocating shelf space to minimize overall store stocking expense, thus reducing the inventory. Moreover, the research has provided information that occasional purchase products should be given a top place on shelves because they have less brand loyalty. The research findings also have stated that the degree of substitutes impacts the product’s shelf placement in-store.

Reinartz & Kumar (1999) researched the drivers that will result in better store consumer characteristics, and the factors considered by the researchers are store, market and consumer characteristics and competition. The article was titled “Store-, Market-, and Consumer-Characteristics: The Drivers of Store Performance””. The most important factor among the four of them is the store location, in-store attractiveness, placement, or the arrangement of products within the store. The researchers conducted a cross-sectional analysis of stores. Scanner Data Analysis was done to determine the factors leading to in-store attractiveness that would include the product shelf placement. The main findings of the paper were that the store location is the most critical factor. If the store location is not good enough, the retailers should increase in-store attractiveness and one of the ways to improve it is by-product shelf placement and sequencing.

Cox (1970), in his article ““The Effect of Shelf Space upon Sales of Branded Products”” has identified the opportunity cost of a unit of retail space is the gross profit the retailer can obtain by allocating this space to the most profitable item. The research identifies another attribute of manufacturers: they are always looking for maximum distance on the shelf regardless of the frame’s position that will attract most customers. Stocking a large amount of product on the stand will enhance customers’ chances of focusing on the work.

Razzouka, Seitza, & Kumarb (2002) have also researched the topic related to product shelf placement. In their article ““The impact of perceived display completeness/incompleteness on shoppers’ shoppers’ in-store selection of merchandise: an empirical study””, the researchers have clearly stated that sales of non-durable goods at retail outlets depend on the point of purchase displays and merchandising strategies. Moreover, the strategic placement of products on retail shelves has resulted in increased impulse products. The research has also declared that customers usually do not buy from the empty and near-empty shelves. Thus the products should be stacked on the shelves properly to gain customer attention. The researcher conducted an in-store experiment comparing the near open racks and frames that are correctly stacked with similar branded products and thus analyzing the consumers’consumers’ purchase behaviour towards the product placed on the two shelves.

Kollat & Willett (1967) have linked the concept of impulse buying with that of in-store stimuli’ sstimuli’s, which include product shelf placement, displays, and other positioning techniques. Their article ““Customer Impulse Purchasing Behavior” has explained that the customers differ in making unplanspontaneousase decisions. There Numerous factors enforcempulse buying behaviour includes; exposure to in-store stimuli, customer commitment and loyalty toward a brand. An in-store field study was conducted to compare ison between experimental groups and control groups to consumer’ sconsumer’s response toward impulse buying. Moreover, authors have explained that unplanned purchases result from two things; either out of stock, the same brand or an inventory addition in the same brand category. Thus, the unplanned purchases depend upon product availability and placement of work on the shelf and how attractively the product is placed. 

Gladwell (2005) explained the importance of packaging in making a purchase decision; he believed that customer perception about a product is based on the aesthetic element of package design. He furthers noticed that people do not distinguish between work and package; they treat it as a whole. In his view, customer perception about a product is directly dependent on how he feels about the box, i.e. for a consumer product mix of work and package.

Gelperowic and Beharrell (1994), in their article ““Healthy Food Products for Children:Packaging and Mothers’Mothers’ Purchase Decisions”” explain the power of the package when it comes to children’s products. The result depicts that pester power can come from attractive packaging, and as a result, it will influence the consumer purchase decision heavily. This behaviour can be observed in the purchase of Disney-branded products.

Rettie and Brewer (2000), in their article “The Verbal and Visual Components of Package Design” focused on the package design. They proposed that if the content is written from the right-hand side, customers will be better perceived; it shows that perception is not symmetrical. He further states that in the case of visual content, it should be mentioned from the left-side. The study shows that under conditions of rapid perception, this placement technique on the pack helps in recognizing or making the difference.

Theoretical Framework

A positive relationship exists between consumer perception about a product and its packaging and shelf placement. Here, product packaging and product shelf placement are taken as the dependent variable. If the packaging is attractive or appealing, and the order is right, the consumer will perceive the product as useful and attractive. Finally, the consumer will make a purchase decision. In the case of in-store shopping, the consumer will attend or respond to that stimulus, which will be perceived by the consumer from all the other environmental triggers. So marketers and retailers will try to find ways by which they can get consumer attention; getting consumer attention is the prime purpose of the marketer, as final purchase decisions will be based on it. A schematic diagram of the theoretical framework is as follows.

Theoretical Framework

Limitations of Research

Limitations of the research are:

  • The result cannot be generalized to a broad population.
  • The number of participants involved in a qualitative research study is too small to represent the population. Focus groups or interviews session requires interaction with a few dozen members of a target audience.
  • Statistical analysis cannot be done with this kind of research as it does not collect numeric data from a representative sample of the target audience.
  • The quality of the data collection and the results are highly dependent on the skills of the moderator or interviewer and the rigour of the analysis. The analyst’s skill and experience also influence how well the data are summarized into themes and insights that are useful for subsequent program planning.

Future Research Direction

The research has opened a new dimension for the further in-depth analysis of the factors on which marketers focus while targeting potential customers. Two factors highlighted by this research also need more input from other researchers, as more work can be done. This research can be carried forward by including or involving other variables like individual preferences about a particular brand and seeing the psychological reasons behind it.

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