of marketing that is present at the moment of choice and reaches nearly all consumers who are purchasing from a given product category (Behaeghel, 1991; Peters, 1994). Effective package design helps products stand out amidst the competition for consumers’ attention and conveys information about the qualities of the product and/or brand (Nancarrow et al., 1998; Underwood et al., 2001).


Food packages today contain a wide array of information, including branding, product images, product claims, and promotions (see Table 2-1). Branding seeks to build, reinforce, and convey a product’s identity. Brands that are familiar, easily recognizable, and associated with positive attributes such as quality, value, health, or enjoyment generally have a competitive advantage over less recognizable brands (Aaker, 1991). On food packages, product images, names, slogans, symbols, logos, and licensed characters are all used to build, reinforce, or convey brand identity to consumers. Many packages also include product images or photographs that show the appearance of the food inside. Product claims include a wide range of messages, from descriptions of the product (e.g., “crispy toasted rice”) or how it is made (e.g., “organic”) to subjective evaluations (e.g., “delicious”) and nutrition-related claims. Nutrition claims can be structure/function claims (e.g., “calcium builds strong bones”), nutrient content claims (e.g., “zero calories” or “good source of vitamin C”), or health claims (e.g., “While many factors affect heart

TABLE 2-1 Selected Types of Information Commonly Found on Front of Food Packages

Type Description (example)
Branding Name, logos, slogans, characters associated with brand
Product images Photographs or illustrations of the product
(e.g., bowl or spoonful of steaming soup)
Product claims

Product description

What is the product
(e.g., non-dairy creamer)

Subjective evaluation

Selected product attributes
(e.g., now crunchier)

How product is made

Process used in selecting ingredients, manufacturing, packaging
(e.g., organic, eco-friendly, recycled paper)

Structure/function claims

Linking a product ingredient to a known function in humans
(e.g., calcium builds strong bones)

Nutrient content claims

Characterizing the level of a nutrient listed in the Nutrition Facts panel
(e.g., “low fat” or “reduced sugar”)
Health claims Characterizing the relationship of a substance to a disease or health-related condition
(e.g., “Diets low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, a disease associated with many factors.”)

Special offers

Purchase of the product confers access to other benefits
(e.g., instant savings coupon, $1 coupon inside)


Formal affiliation with an issue or organization
(e.g., pink ribbons, official soft drink of…)


Cross marketing with other products
(e.g., characters from popular cartoons or movies)


Package contents include free novelties
(e.g., toys, games)

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