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The importance of packaging design for own-label food brands


L.E. Wells, H. Farley and G.A. Armstrong
School of Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Strategy, University of Ulster, Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland
Abstract
Purpose This paper seeks to investigate the importance of packaging design for a UK premium own-label food brand, by developing an understanding of how consumers evaluate own-label packaging, providing an insight into their shopping behaviour regarding premium own-label desserts and identifying the factors that inuence their purchase decisions. Implicit in this is a need to establish how the packaging designs of premium own-label products inuence the purchase decisions of consumers. Design/methodology/approach The paper reports on the ndings of participant observational exercises employed at two Tesco stores. Findings Overall, analysis of ndings would clearly indicate that there is a strong association regarding the inuence of packaging on the purchase decision, with over 73 per cent of interviewed consumers stating that they rely on packaging to aid their decision-making process at the point of purchase. Research limitations/implications This study reports on the preliminary ndings of the rst stage of a research project. Future studies could extend this research by considering the importance of packaging for products with lower experiential benets than those offered by premium desserts or, additionally, by employing a comparative study of own-label brands. Practical implications As own-label brands are exclusive to, and owned by, the retailer they have potentially the opportunity to develop packaging designs that are even more attuned to their customer base than those offered by the equivalent range of branded products. Originality/value This paper presents empirical research investigating the importance of packaging design for own-label food brands. Keywords Packaging, Design, Food packaging, Retailers, Premium brands Paper type Research paper

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Introduction Food product development and innovation continues to be seen as a fundamental strategy for competitive success and survival within a competitive global market (Stewart-Knox and Mitchell, 2003; Bogue, 2001; Harmsen, 1994). Despite this acknowledgement, a large number of new food products (72-88 per cent) continue to fail (Bogue, 2001; Lord, 1999; Buisson, 1995; Fuller, 1994; Rudolph, 1995), highlighting the difcult task that retailers face in todays food industry (Moskowitz, 1999). Food retailers are facing a somewhat challenging scenario where the cost of marketing is also rising and it is becoming more difcult to maintain sales for brands that are not the rst choice household name (Peters, 1994). In addition, consumers are becoming more demanding in terms of quality and choice (Mintel, 2003) and are constantly seeking a product tailored to their every want and need. Products are developed to, and indeed are expected by consumers to taste good; therefore, it is not surprising that consumers will increasingly make their initial choices

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based on aesthetic value (Schmitt and Simonson, 1997; Dumaine, 1991). Thus, the question commonly faced by many food retailers is how to distinguish or differentiate their product from competing products. During the 1980s, UK food retailers began to enhance the pack design of their products, discovering that improvements in packaging design and product quality enabled them to compete directly with food manufacturers (Southgate, 1994). Yet, despite the fact that the importance of packaging as a communication tool is growing (Silayoi and Speece, 2004; Nancarrow et al., 1998; Bloch, 1995), there is still limited research into the inuence of packaging on brand identity (Underwood et al., 2001). In the competitive world of food retailing, packaging has to work harder than ever if the product is to be noticed through the congestion of competitive products (Milton, 1991) and surprisingly few food retailers appreciate the power of packaging as a piece of direct communication (Peters, 1994). Own-label growth Own-label products are dened as any products over which a retailer [has] exercised total sourcing and market control (Mintel, 2005a, b). For retailers, own-label brands offer an opportunity to build store loyalty (Dick et al., 1996) and Mintel (2005a, b) estimate that the market growth for UK own-label food increased by 18 per cent between 1999 and 2004 placing a total value of 28.5billion on the UK market. A recent report published by market analyst Datamonitor (2005), revealed that spending on own-label food products had increased from 34 per cent to 45 per cent during the period of 2000-2005. Despite the increasing power of own-label products, many in the food industry believe there is still plenty of room for growth (Food and Drink, 2003). Perrin (2002) (cited by Food and Drink, 2003) states that growth will continue as retailers become more and more sophisticated marketers and the retailers will continue to increase the power of their own-label brands by offering even more premium priced, higher quality products. Consumer craving for quality and choice in turn has allowed retailers to focus on the premium priced, chef quality products [which] offer lucrative market opportunities (Roberts, 2001). Recent research reports that premium brands can now account for about 20 per cent of a category and sell at about 40 per cent more than standard lines (Taylor Nelson, 2002). Virtually all of the own-label growth success has occurred within the chilled foods sector, leading the way in many chilled categories (Mintel, 2005a, b). One such category is chilled desserts, said to be worth 302 million in 2004, having experienced a growth of 29 per cent since 1999 (Mintel, 2005a, b). Research conducted by Mintel (2005a, b) indicates that more than 98 per cent of chilled dessert sales are accounted for by retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Sainsburys, with Tesco leading the way in sales. To date, there has been little or no research conducted into this successful premium own-label sector. Rationale of study Clearly, the UK food and drink supply chain is concentrated in the hands of a few multiples (Mintel, 2005a, b). The top three according to Mintel (2005a, b) are Tesco, Asda and Sainsburys, with own-label sales accounting for 51 per cent of sales for the three retailers (Mintel, 2005a, b). As it was impossible to investigate each of the top three retailers of own label in depth due to time constraints, it was decided to focus on one. Recent research conducted by Mintel (2005a, b) into own-label products, highlighted the phenomenal success of Tescos own-label sub brands. Four out of

Tescos ve sub-brands enjoy penetration levels of over 20 per cent and the top two are bought by a third of all main shoppers (Mintel, 2005a, b). For this reason, Tesco was selected for the purposes of the research study. The retailer was the rst UK own-label brand to offer consumers a premium range of prepared food and drink products under their own-label Finest brand. The role of packaging The basic function of packaging is to preserve product integrity by protecting the actual food product against potential damage from climatic, bacteriological and transit hazards (Stewart, 1995). However, the rst to dene packs as the silent salesman was Pilditch in 1957, who argued that the pack must come alive at the point of purchase, in order to represent the salesman (Vazquez et al., 2003). About 30 years later, Lewis (1991) expanded further on Pilditchs views, stating that good packaging is far more than a salesman, it is a ag of recognition and a symbol of values. Given that only a small minority of brands are strong enough to justify the investment that national advertising requires, for the rest, packaging represents one of the most important vehicles for communicating the brand message directly to the target consumer (Nancarrow et al., 1998). As the retail environment becomes saturated with competitors vying for consumers attention, packaging has to work harder than ever if the product is to be noticed through the congestion of competitive products (Milton, 1991). Alongside this challenge, retailers are faced with the realisation that consumers not only differ in how they perceive brands but also in how they relate to these brands (Fournier, 1998; Muniz and OGuinn, 2001). Methodology Owing to the gap in existing research regarding consumer-buying behaviour within the premium dessert category, it was decided that the most appropriate method to employ would be a participant observational study, with the aim of reducing the many uncertainties about the behaviour of customers in-store (Knee, 2002). Observation is a research technique that is often implicit in the data-gathering approach and observation is something we cannot fail to do as people, we are all expert observers (Hackley, 2003). Furthermore, participant observation was chosen as it puts the researcher where the action is enabling them to experience the lives of informants (Bernard, 2000). Previous research has questioned the extent to which the traditional laboratory setting can mirror the consumers shopping experience (Marshall, 2003). Rather than question consumers on their behaviour in a laboratory environment, one option is to observe consumers behaviour and their conversations in an actual store (Meiselman et al., 2000; Arnould and Wallendorf, 1994). An observational approach provides a clearer representation of the decision process that consumers proceed through rather than the consumers perceptions of that process (Douglas and Wind, 1978), thus providing the researcher with the ability to uncover unconscious consumer actions (Wimmer and Stiles, 2001). In addition, the participant observational study provided the opportunity not only to observe the shopping and buying behaviour of consumers, but also to intervene and question consumers. Consumers were rstly observed without interruption, allowing their natural behaviour to be recorded. Only once they completed their actual purchase decision, did the researcher then approach them. Such a method has a clear ethical advantage as consumers can choose to decline

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to participate if they do not want to disclose information regarding their purchase choice. When developing an understanding of consumers behaviour, it is important to ask consumers why they are carrying out a certain action. Indeed, some researchers maintain that the richest data come from informal conversation between the researcher and the informants. Those shoppers who had picked up a product to purchase were intercepted as they walked away from the cabinet and were asked to answer a few short questions regarding their purchase choice. Study design The exercise was conducted at two Tesco Stores situated in the suburbs of Belfast City, with both stores occupying a space of over 60,000 square foot and attracting a large and varied segmentation of customers from surrounding residential areas. It is worth noting that the chilled desserts cabinets consist predominately of own-label with only a few locally produced, branded desserts. The only major difference between the two stores was the merchandising of the desserts and their location in store. Store A merchandised their premium desserts in a separate chilled cabinet away from the rest of the chilled products, situated between the deli and home bakery department. Alternatively, Store B merchandised their premium own-label desserts alongside the rest of their premium own-label chilled products in one cabinet. Both observational studies were conducted in April 2005, following the Easter holidays and prior to the start of the summer season, which may have had an effect on premium dessert sales. This also avoided disparities caused by variances in seasonal, promotional activity and supply availability. Each study was undertaken over a trading week from Monday to Saturday at various times during opening hours, to observe the largest segmentation of shoppers possible. Previous observational research conducted by Miller (1998) indicated that the observations were in marked contrast to what consumers actually told him about shopping when questioned. For this reason product sales of chilled desserts for each store were examined for the corresponding period to act as a triangulation tool, ensuring that consumers actions actually reected their comments regarding product purchase. The framework for group composition was taken from previous observational research conducted by Brown (1991), where individual shoppers were subsequently classied into particular groups. Primary ndings of Store A A total of 317 groups were observed in Store A over an entire trading week from Monday to Saturday. Of the 317 groups that stopped to browse at the chilled desserts cabinet, 51 per cent of them purchased a dessert. However, only 35 per cent of these products purchased were premium own-label, suggesting a further opportunity for greater penetration. The overall group composition was variable with no clear segment identied as the prominent purchaser of premium chilled desserts. Adult females formed the single largest category with 28 per cent of the total stopping to browse at the cabinet. The group consisting of adult females and children followed this closely at 21 per cent. There was very little difference between the adult male segment at 17 per cent and the adult female and male segment at 17 per cent. The remainder was made up of adult females, males and children at 11 per cent, followed by adult males and children at 6 per cent as the smallest group percentage to stop at the cabinet. When examining the breakdown of customer age groups in comparison to the group

composition, there was no notable age group segment purchasing chilled desserts. The age categories between 25 and 39 years old, however, illustrated the highest levels of purchasing with the 50 age group category portraying the lowest penetration levels. Just as group composition demonstrated variation so did the percentage of those who purchased Finest desserts. This ranged from 27 per cent of premium desserts being purchased by adult females to 7 per cent by the adult male and children segment. Generally speaking, those consumers in the larger composition groups displayed the highest purchase frequency of Finest desserts. Out of the 159 consumer groups who purchased a dessert, 141 agreed to participate in answering questions regarding their purchase. Over 56 per cent of consumers portrayed strong behavioural traits of planned shopping as compared to 44 per cent who were more indicative of impulsive buying style. Purchase frequency was surprisingly high with 44 per cent of consumers questioned purchasing a chilled dessert at least once a week, 23 per cent once a fortnight, 20 per cent more than once a week and 13 per cent only occasionally. The general consensus from consumers was that you have to treat yourself once in a while and that you only live once. Primary ndings of Store B A total of 168 groups were observed in Store B over an entire trading week from Monday to Saturday. A considerably smaller sample was observed in this exercise as compared to that in Store A. The primary reason for this was likely to be the merchandising arrangements in Store B, as previously discussed. One advantage to observing the cabinet in this store, was that all the products being purchased were premium own-label and therefore it would be interesting to note any behavioural differences between shoppers in Stores A and B. Of the 168 consumer groups who stopped to browse at the chilled desserts cabinet, only 17 per cent made a purchase, signalling a relatively lower penetration rate of purchase. While examining the overall group composition versus rate of purchase displayed, it is worth noting that adult females formed the single largest category with 31 per cent of the total stopping to browse at the cabinet. The groups consisting of adult females and children and the adult female and male segment followed this jointly with 17 per cent. The remainder consisted of the adult male segment at 16 per cent, the adult females, males and children with 14 per cent and lastly the adult males and children at 5 per cent. There was no association when comparing the breakdown of customer age groups with group composition. Purchase levels did, however, appear to be strongest between the age groups of 25-44 years old. Of the 28 groups who did purchase a dessert, 23 groups agreed to participate in answering questions regarding their purchase. Over 61 per cent portrayed strong behavioural traits of impulsive buying as compared to 39 per cent displaying a planned approach. A common statement from the impulsive buyers observed was that they did not really need a dessert, but when [they] did see one [they] just had to buy it. Surprisingly, given the low levels of purchase penetration, purchase frequency was high. Over 40 per cent of consumers questioned purchased premium own-label desserts at least once a week, followed by 26 per cent buying desserts once a fortnight. Feedback presented by consumers indicated that brand loyalty was high. One consumer stipulated that without having the treat of a Finest dessert once a week, [she] would feel something was missing.

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Overall, analysis and discussion Overall, a total of 485 groups were observed in the two stores over an entire trading week from Monday to Saturday. Out of the 485 groups that stopped to browse at the cabinet, 187 (38 per cent) of them purchased a dessert. Unfortunately, due to the merchandising of chilled desserts in Store B, it was impossible to calculate an overall gure for the purchase frequency of desserts versus the purchase frequency of premium desserts. The overall group composition displayed was variable with no clear segment identied as the prominent purchaser of premium chilled desserts. Adult females formed the single largest category with 29 per cent of the total stopping to browse at the cabinet. This was closely followed by the group consisting of adult females and children at 20 per cent. There was very little difference between the adult male segment at 16 per cent and the adult female and male segment at 17 per cent. The remainder was comprised of adult females, males and children at 12 per cent, followed by adult males and children at 6 per cent, the smallest group percentage to stop at the cabinet. Even though the role of women has changed dramatically over the last 30 years, female consumers when co-habiting continue to take on the main shopping role. Research conducted by Beardsworth et al. (2002) into the signicance of gender for food choices, overwhelmingly indicated that it was women who bore the main responsibility for deciding what food products are purchased. When examining the breakdown of customer age groups in comparison to the group composition and purchase levels, there was no clear association. Previous research implies that brand loyalty increases as people age (Cole and Balasubramanian, 1993). Supporting this research is a suggestion by Sethuraman and Cole (1999) that brand loyalty increases as people age, where younger consumers may be prepared to pay smaller premiums for national brands as their preferences are not as strongly formed as older consumers. As a result, younger consumers may place a higher focus on the image of a brand and be less familiar with store brands (Sethuraman and Cole, 1999). However, ndings in this observation exercise differed from these previous ndings by Cole and Balasubramanian (1993) and Sethuraman and Cole (1999). Here, the strongest level of brand loyalty was evident in the age category of 34-39 years, followed by those consumers in the 16-24 years category. One of the predominant trends observed in both stores was that the purchase of desserts was quite frequent; with 44 per cent of consumers questioned purchasing desserts at least once a week, followed by 23 per cent purchasing a dessert once a fortnight. This was followed by 18 per cent purchasing a dessert more than once a week and 15 per cent of consumers purchasing only occasionally. The main consensus among consumers was that they were allowed to spoil themselves and they deserved to treat themselves once in a while. Store B had a considerably lower purchase penetration than Store A. However, customers visiting Store B may potentially have been unaware that there was a premium offering of desserts due to the merchandising layout within the store at this time. Female consumers illustrated the highest incidence of planned purchasing in this exercise. Previous research has demonstrated that women are more likely to plan their purchases than men (Cobb and Hoyer, 1986). Block and Morwitz (1999) attribute three reasons for this, rstly that women are traditionally in charge of grocery shopping; secondly, that because of such tradition, females are more knowledgeable regarding products and stores, and lastly, that females have a better idea about inventory levels

than males do (Goldman and Jonhansson, 1978; Urbany et al., 1996). There was some evidence of pester power where young children were notably attracted to the desserts and as a result of this, the majority of parents involved did then purchase the product. The decision-making process When examining the decision-making process of those questioned in both stores, there was no dominant style of purchasing behaviour evident. Over 54 per cent portrayed strong behavioural traits of planned purchasers as compared to 46 per cent, displaying a more impulsive buying style. Wood (2005) denes inpulse buying as extraordinary, emotion-saturated buying without regard to nancial or other consequences. Those consumers buying for indulgent reasons were mainly the result of an impulsive decision. In these circumstances, consumers were highly driven by their emotions, whether positive or negative. Some consumers felt they should reward themselves after a good day whereas others were looking for comfort food after a bad day. Many shoppers portraying this behaviour felt that a Finest dessert was one similar to what you would receive in a restaurant and explained that when they were treating themselves they always wanted the best Such ndings would correspond with the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) (Ajzen, 1991) whereby consumer behaviour is determined by three dimensions, the consumers attitudes towards a behaviour, the subjective norm and the perceived behavioural control (Ajzen, 1991). By purchasing a dessert, it was clear that consumers expected their emotional needs to be fullled and subsequently lead to an experience outcome that they would value positively (Conner, 1995). Moreover, this type of impulse shopper was inclined to be more adventurous than the planned shopper and was readily prepared to try new products. One apparent theme, which arose during questioning, was the number of consumers who were making a planned purchase for a specic occasion; these occasions ranged from a dinner party or family lunch to a birthday party. For such occasions, consumers were seeking a product that they wouldnt be embarrassed to serve to their guests and play it safe with a product that they knew would deliver. Those consumers purchasing for a certain occasion claimed they bought premium own-label as they could be reassured the product they were serving was a high quality. Many shoppers were looking for a product they could pass off as their own as due to time constraints they were unable to prepare a homemade dessert. Again, similarities arose from these ndings and Ajzens (1991) TPB, whereby these consumers experienced some social pressure to choose a dessert that they thought their guests would approve of and thus lead to a positive outcome. Furthermore, this type of consumer displayed a high level of brand loyalty towards premium own-label desserts. The reasons presented by shoppers were that Finest is a brand you can trust and the products are always high quality. Interestingly, a planned purchase very often coincided with a repeat purchase, especially those buying for a special occasion. There appeared to be a low level of brand loyalty in Store A compared to Store B, however, some of these shoppers did purchase Finest brand products on a regular basis. Consumers were searching for a product to full their requirements at that particular moment and were keen to purchase any product that they thought would do so. Alternatively, in Store B, brand loyalty was visibly high, illustrated not only by purchase frequency but also by the fact that 52 per cent of consumers were making a repeat purchase. Although 34 per cent of shoppers were buying a new product, they

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maintained that they had remained loyal to the Finest range declaring that they liked to try all the desserts and enjoyed a bit of variety to satisfy their changing moods. Retail literature approaches point of purchase buying as commonplace, expected and indeed encouraged (Hackett et al., 1993; Phillips and Bradshaw, 1993). Findings from the research would indeed suggest that point of purchase buying was readily practised by shoppers throughout the exercise. Clearly, store environment and highly visible products have the ability to act as prompt lists providing customers with the option of delaying decision-making until they are in store (Bowlbey, 1997). Those shoppers, who were restricted with their shopping time, relied heavily on extrinsic attributes, especially visual information. Previous research conducted by Pieters and Warlop (1999) also implied that time pressured subjects tended to lter textual information such as ingredient information on packages, more preferring the less cognitively-taxing pictorial information. It was evident that, shopping motivation had a large impact on purchase choice and on the various extrinsic attributes that consumers used as indicators of quality. Recent research revealed that consumers not only differ in how they perceive brands but also in how they relate to brands (Muniz and OGuinn, 2001; Fournier, 1998), a theme also evident in this research. Own-label packaging inuence From the observation and consumers comments, it was obvious that consumers placed a high dependence on the extrinsic attributes of packaging to aid the purchase decision. Indeed, over 73 per cent of consumers agreed to utilising packaging to assist in their purchase decision. One shopper explained that she spent a great deal longer choosing a dessert as compared to other food products and that packaging had a big inuence on [her] decision. Cox (1967) and Olson and Jacoby (1972) suggest that when consumers make quality judgements they use direct and indirect indicators of quality. At the point of purchase in particular, consumers increasingly relied on indirect or surrogate cues to aid their decision. Previous research in the grocery industry discovered that extrinsic cues are easier to recognise and process than intrinsic cues (Purwar, 1982). On closer examination, there does not appear to be one prominent attribute that aided consumers in their purchase decision in this research. Therefore, it is important that retailers understand the surrogate variables used by consumers to assess brand quality and whether various consumer segments differ in their use of such indicators in the decision-making process. Over 43 per cent of consumers claimed to use the pack photography as an indication of product quality and one customer commented that they used the photography to assist as a serving suggestion. Even though a number of premium own-label products have a clear window on the packaging displaying the actual product, a number of consumers still relied on the photograph to ensure the product looked how it should do. Consumers, who made their purchase on impulse tended to rely heavily on the extrinsic attributes of the packaging, especially pack photography, to assist in their choice. Of those shoppers questioned, 30 per cent felt that familiarity of the product was important, perhaps explaining the large number of repeat purchases made. Following this, 21 per cent of consumers used the product descriptor as a tool for judging quality; this was especially evident in those indulgent seeking consumers. This type of consumer appeared to be easily persuaded by the use

of sensory descriptor words to appeal to their senses. In the words of one shopper, they were looking for a product that made their stomach rumble and mouth water when they read the descriptor. Only 6 per cent of shoppers maintained that portion size was a determining factor, this came across as a major factor for many of the groups with families, for the obvious reason to ensure there is enough to go around. Vranesevic and Stancec (2003) stress that when there is no obvious advantage over one brand as compared to another with regards to the physical product, consumers will evaluate the product brand and use it as a sign of quality. Likewise, De Wulf et al. (2001) believe that when consumers use extrinsic cues to judge product quality, stores are at a disadvantage when compared to national brands. Reinforcing this statement is Richardson and Dick (1994) who explains that store brands are largely undifferentiated in consumers minds. Interestingly, the ndings from this research would contradict these statements as analysis would indicate that current extrinsic attributes of premium own-label brands do have the power to act as a quality tool when communicating with the consumer. However, these ndings may be due to the fact that the product category under investigation is generally own-label led. Analysis would indicate that current extrinsic attributes of the premium own-label brand do have the power to act as a quality tool when communicating with the consumer. Conclusion From this observational work, it is obvious that there was no one clear customer segment that predominately purchased chilled desserts, rather the majority of the customer base buy into the range. One clear emerging theme from this exercise was the identication of ve consumer segments who all purchased premium desserts. Each segment displayed varying levels of purchase frequency and brand loyalty and relied on different extrinsic attributes to aid their decision. This provides an opportunity for retailers like Tesco, to increase sales and build a brand relationship across their customer base. However, facing the difculty of designing a package that communicates to the needs and wants of such a wide customer base, is not without its problems. Perhaps, surprisingly, some of the consumers even viewed their shopping trip as a recreational activity. Some academics do state that shopping has become a major leisure and lifestyle activity (Bayley and Nancarrow, 1998). Generally, shoppers spent a considerably longer time browsing the chilled desserts cabinet as compared to the time they spent in other product ranges in the store. To many, Finest desserts parallel restaurant standard and are of the highest quality. Consumer comments revealed that they were seeking a dessert that satises all their cravings and required packaging that makes their stomach grumble and mouth water to persuade them to make a purchase. Retailers can utilise this information for developing the most effective packaging communications, point of sale and merchandising. By identifying the segments that purchase premium own-label and the factors that inuence their choice, retailers can then develop a packaging design that enhances brand awareness and creates positive associations within the consumers consciousness. Overall, analysis demonstrated the growing importance that is placed on packaging as a tool for differentiation from competitor products and for further developing the retailers own-label brand. Analysis of ndings would clearly indicate that there is a strong association regarding the inuence of packaging on the purchase decision,

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with over 73 per cent of interviewed consumers stating that they rely on packaging to aid their decision-making process at the point of purchase. Since, so many purchase decisions are made at the point of sale, the impact of packaging represents an important issue for food suppliers to consider. As own-label brands are exclusive to, and owned by, the retailer they have the opportunity to develop packaging designs that are even more attuned to their customer base than those offered by the equivalent range of branded products. Consequently, it is imperative that retailers strive to understand the surrogate variables used by consumers to assess brand quality and whether various consumer segments differ in the use of such indicators during the decision-making process. Limitations of research A possible limitation of this research is that it focuses upon a product category that is considered to be high in experiential benets, derived from the pleasure of consuming luxury desserts. Prior research has revealed that the more experiential the products benets are, the more a consumer will focus on processing imagery and sensory information, which in turn may increase the relative importance of packaging design at the point of purchase. Owing to the time constraints and nature of this study, it was impossible to additionally investigate the importance of packaging design for products which are considered to be lower in terms of experiential benets; however, further research could be undertaken to investigate this aspect. Moreover, the study was conducted in the UK, where own-label brands have experienced phenomenal growth since the 1980s and play an important role in food retail; therefore, ndings may vary if the study was to be conducted in America or other parts of Europe. Future research As this is empirical research, further research may enhance the validity and generalisation of these ndings. This study reports on the preliminary ndings of the rst stage of a research project. Analysis of the reported research indicates that further investigation is essential for developing effective packaging for own-label brands. These observational ndings aimed to structure and inform the next stage of research, which consisted of several focus groups. Results obtained from the observational study will be used to inform and develop a matrix to better segment participants into one of the seven focus groups, reecting their shopping behaviour. Future studies could extend this research by considering the importance of packaging for products with lower experiential benets than those offered by desserts or additionally, employing a comparative study of own-label brands.
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Further reading Food Manufacture (2005), Own-label surges ahead and grabs further market share from branded rival products, Food Manufacture, February, 9.

About the authors L.E. Wells is a Research Student within the School of Marketing, Entrepreneurship at the University of Ulster and was recently awarded her PhD in November 2006. Her research focuses upon the role of packaging design within the food product development process in general, and more specically, on packaging design for own-label food brands. This interest was developed through her work with one of the major retailers and Laura is particularly interested in the application of qualitative methods to this research area. L.E. Wells is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: le.wells@ulster.ac.uk

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H. Farley is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the University of Ulster and teaches marketing, consumer behaviour and business strategy. Her research is focused predominately on food product development and the need for a market-led approach and she has been involved in a range of commercially relevant projects. E-mail: h.farley@ulster.ac.uk G.A. Armstrong is a Lecturer in Marketing within the School of Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the University of Ulster. She is Programme Director for the MSc in Agri-food Business Development and lectures in the areas of consumer behaviour, marketing and e-marketing. Her research interests are in the area of product quality and food marketing, facilitated through industrially related research and relevant PhD supervision. E-mail: ga.Armstrong@ulster.ac.uk

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