Chocolate Package Design Combined with Price Setting

Chocolate package design combined with price setting: A consumer purchase intention and overall impression investigation.

Cao Youjia, Wang Yicheng, Li Simei, Gao Junhong Abstract In our experiments, the research sheds light on consumers’ purchase intention and overall impression towards six types of combination of chocolate package and price:

aesthetic package with a relatively high price
aesthetic package with an intermediate price
aesthetic package with a relatively low price
plain package with a relatively high price
lain package with an intermediate price
plain package at a relatively low price.

After the six between-subject experiments, we find that package design and price setting do have an influence on customers’ preference to purchase, but not as strong as our perception. On the other hand, the packaging has a significant influence on the customers’ overall impression of the product. The aesthetic package with the highest price leaves the customer with the best impression. Implications for future applications for businesses are discussed in the final part.

Keywords: Package design, price setting, analysis of variance, purchase intention. Introduction “Man shows that he is affected by appearance, by something that causes him pleasure over and above the immediate utility of the object”. Designing aesthetic products to satisfy the consumers’ needs is of growing importance in marketing. As core attributes of the product, such as quality and functionality, become increasingly homogeneous, firms are shifting their efforts from concrete product characteristics towards less concrete ones such as package designing.

This trend towards aesthetics in product differentiation may be based on the insight that aesthetic designs seem to trigger certain positive responses in consumers such as an immediate desire to own the product; an increased inclination to show off and care for that product; and a higher willingness to pay for it. More importantly, products with aesthetic qualities may be treasured long after their functional value fades. However, little is known about the preference of purchasing and the impression when consumers experience different designed packages at certain prices. Although packaging, as an integral design element, has recently been investigated by Orth and Malkewitz, they comment that there is no good psychological theory when it comes to packaging aesthetics as well as the related prices and further research is necessary. In summary, we propose that the combination of the package and the price will shed light on the consumer purchase intentions and overall impression, therefore, may enlighten the businesses to wisely appropriate the capital on the packaging at a certain price. One fundamental problem limiting work in the area involves the meaning of the concepts: packaging aesthetic is an indistinct and elusive construct that often is mistaken for imprecise adjectives like “goodness, or luxury, or shininess, or weight”.

Because the definition is difficult, researchers often depend on one-dimensional self-report measures to capture the concepts and thus must assume shared meanings among consumers. In experiments 1a, we attempt to differentiate aesthetics from plain package design by measuring scores given by participants between differently packaged chocolate. In experiment 1b, we attempt to figure out buyers’ subjective perceptions of price. Finally, applying the data from experiments 1a and 1b, experiment 2 uses 2*3 matrixes to shed light on the underlying correlation impact with packaging and price on buyers’ preference of purchasing as well as the overall impression, which helps explain consumers behavior and gives suggestion to the domestic chocolate businesses. Furthermore, we slightly investigated the utility differentiation when the price and packaging are taken into consideration. Conceptual background and hypotheses H1.

Given a certain product, when referring to the purchase intention, people are more likely to choose one with the aesthetic package and relatively low price, though package design and price setting have little influence on customers’ purchase intention of chocolate. The packaging is often important to the customer’s first impression of a brand, its quality, or its value. Price, the extrinsic cue receiving the most research attention (see Olson 1977 for a complete review of this literature), appears to function as a surrogate for quality when the consumer has inadequate information about intrinsic attributes.

H2. Package design has a significant influence on the customers’ overall impression of the chocolate product. Aesthetic package with a relatively high price owns the best evaluation. Considerable empirical research has investigated the relationship between price and quality (see Olson 1977 for a review of this literature in marketing) and has shown that consumers use price to infer quality when it is the only available cue. Experiment 1a Overview and method In our first experiment, we attempt to differentiate aesthetics from plain packages through the scores that participants gave. Our between-subjects, repeated measure experimental design included two different conditions: in the aesthetic condition, we presented chocolate packages that were pre-selected according to important visual aspects of aesthetic package design such as beauty, unity, and prototypically. In the plain condition, we presented the other package that was pre-selected based on their functionality and practical utility. Each trial started with a brief preparation phase show the chocolate, followed by the packaging to hold the chocolate. Picture stimuli were pretested among 32 undergraduate students, which were given aesthetics versus plain product packaging. Participants were then asked to assess the picture given as being plain or aesthetic (scale from 1 to 6). Randomly eight boys and eight girls were kept for aesthetic packaging and another eight boys and eight girls were exposed to plain packaging.

The questionnaires of the experiment are attached to the report as an appendix

Result. We simply counted the number of choices in both conditions and found that participants in the aesthetics condition give higher scores than the plain condition. Sex has no effects on the given scores. Discussion In experiment 1a, when the visual product stimuli were richer in their aesthetic appeal, participants have the inherent perception of which should get higher marks. Experiment 1b Overview and method We intended to get the acceptable price range of the given image of chocolate and then figure out the relatively high price, intermediate price, and the low price, which will contribute to the accuracy and efficiency of the experiment .
We show the same image of chocolate without packaging (the same image of the first phase of an experiment to 32 randomly chosen undergraduates (16 girls and 16 boys). Then ask them how much they would pay for that kind of chocolate (x/500g). As we usually don’t have a clear mind of how much the chocolate usually worth the money, we give the price of Dove chocolate as the reference point (53/500g). Discussion After experiment 1b, we decided to use the relatively low price as20/500g (minimum), intermediate price as53/500g (median), and relatively high price as 100/500g (maximum).

Problem Formulation

aesthetic package with a relatively high price
aesthetic package with an intermediate price
aesthetic package with a relatively low price
plain package with a relatively high price
plain package with an intermediate price, 6. plain package with a relatively low price.

Which Combination does the consumer most likely to buy? And which combination can get the best evaluation from customers? Determination of Sources of Information Sources of information are from textbooks, literature About package theory as well as information comes from experiment 1a and 1b. IV and DV The independent variables.

There are two pairs of Independent Variables of our research:

Package: aesthetic and plain.
Prices: high, intermediate, and low.
The intensity of consumers’ purchase intentions.
Customers’ overall impression of the chocolate product.

Sample We chose our schoolmates as our research participants. Forty subjects were selected from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and were randomly assigned to four treatment groups. A total of 40 respondents participated, resulting in a data set of 40 different product choices. Procedure During the experiment, there was no evidence to suggest that subjects were aware of the different sets of experimental material provided and the subjects showed little concern in the experimental materials of others. All the above has shown that our experiment is a between-subject experiment.


Judging from the data above, though we may draw the conclusion that packaging and price have no significant influence on the purchase intention as we expected. There do exist some influence when we have a glance at the following graphs, we can find that customers tend to choose the one with the aesthetic packaging and low price. The purchase intention doesn’t fluctuate a lot with the change of package and price, which is quite reasonable when the attributes of chocolate are taken into consideration. We just try to sell the same chocolate and chocolate is a certain kind of food, that intensity to purchase will not have an abrupt change with the extrinsic variation.

The result of the experiment also shed light on the information as follows: People are more likely to purchase what is not only cheap but also packaged well. But better packaging and the higher price will contribute to better impressions among the customers.


Along with the research above, we also investigated other factors to influence purchase behavior and get some useful data. Chinese people’s preferences towards chocolate, according to our experiment results, are relatively high. The index turns out to be 4. 5/6, females enjoy an even higher 4. 7/6. Therefore, there exists a potential Chinese market for daily chocolate consumers. We suggest chocolate producers provide customers with a fair price (lower than that of imported chocolate) and a plain package. What we want to stress is that in that circumstance, consumers’ experience is needed. A relatively plain and casual package can choose a relatively low price to gain bigger sales. As we can see from our data, the majority of Chinese consume chocolate only when holidays such as on Valentine’s Day. Therefore, we suggest chocolate companies focusing on the “festivals and holiday” market. We emphasize that the design of the chocolate should be aesthetic. As we can see from our results, high-end chocolate may choose relatively high prices in order to give consumers a deep impression for the benefit of building a good brand’s reputation. Moreover, people are more likely to consider that kind of chocolate as gifts for others. Acknowledgments The authors thank Dr. Wang Liangyan for helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier version of the manuscript. The research was supported by Antai College of Economics & Management, Shanghai Jiao Tong University.


T Aharon, I., Etcoff, N., Ariely, D., Chabris, C. F., O’Connor, E., & Breiter, H. C. (2001). Beautiful faces have variable reward value: fMRI and behavioral evidence. Neuron, 32(3), 537? 551. Arnheim, R. (1974).
Art and visual perception: A psychology of the creative eye. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. Bechara, A., Damasio, H., Tranel, D., & Damasio, A. R. (1997).
Deciding advantageously before knowing the advantageous strategy. Science, 275 (5304), 1293? 1295. Berlyne, D. E. (1974).
Studies in the new experimental aesthetics: Steps toward an objective psychology of aesthetic appreciation. Washington, DC: Hemisphere Publishing. Bettman, J. R., Luce, M. F., & Payne, J. W. (1998).

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