Messages Sent by Shapes (03-11-21)

Chen and colleagues studied the nonverbal messages sent by package shapes; their findings are useful to designers more generally.  The Chen-lead team determined that “a tall, slender package creates the perception of higher brand status to a significantly greater extent than a short, wide package. Therefore, retailers in the high-end market can stock more products in tall, slender packages to communicate and enhance their positioning. . . . Retailers in the low-end market, on the other hand, face more complicated decisions. Should they stock more products in short, wide packages? On the one hand, consumers who are aware of the retailer’s economic positioning might still prefer a product they perceive to have a high brand status over one perceived to have a low brand status, all other things being equal. On the other hand, for new consumers who know little about the retailer, high perceived brand status may lead to a high estimation of product price, and turn price-sensitive consumers away.”

Huan Chen, Jun Pang, Minkyung Koo, and Vanessa Patrick.  2020. “Shape Matters:  Package Shape Informs Brand Status Categorization and Brand Choice.”  Journal of Retailing, vol. 96, no. 2, pp. 266-281,