Atypical Package Design and Product Category Prestige
Tom Joonhwan Kim and Margaux Petitjean
kHUB post date: March 3, 2022
Originally published: May 4, 2021 (PDMA JPIM • Vol. 38, Issue 3 • May 2021)
Read time: 40 minutes
Access the Full Article
Innovation in the design of products has become an important competitive tool of success in the market for many firms (see the virtual issue on Design Innovation in the Journal of Product Innovation Management ). A few firms have had success in the market by adopting innovative designs. But not all innovative designs give success to firms. This research focuses on package design as an important marketing tool of innovation, influencing consumer responses to products. When designing packaging, firms typically follow category-based visual codes, but they can adopt an innovative design that deviates from the codes, producing atypical package designs. This research shows that the effectiveness of atypical package design depends on product category prestige. Consumers respond to signals about product quality, such as package design, when they believe the signals are credible. When a product category is prestigious, consumers perceive package design as a diagnostic signal. Consumers are more likely to infer high product performance from an atypical package design and choose that product. We compare three dimensions of product design (aesthetics, functionality, and symbolism) to reveal that functionality is the reason why consumers prefer an atypical package design in a prestigious category. A series of studies show that the preference for atypical package design becomes stronger when consumers are choosing products in a prestigious category than in a standard category. The preference for atypical package design is attenuated when other information related to performance is provided, even when the aesthetics and symbolism of atypical package design do not change.
- The usage of atypical package design can be more effective when it is used for products in a prestigious category than for products in a standard category.
- Consumers are more likely to perceive atypical package design as a signal of high performance when the product is in a prestigious category than when in a standard category.
- The usage of atypical package design as a signal of high performance can be more effective when there is no other cue to evaluate the performance of contents in the package.