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An exploratory investigation of consumers' perceptions and perceptual process regarding food packaging
Consumers are exposed to various food products within the retail environment competing for their attention. Once food packaging gains the attention of the passing consumer, it communicates with the consumer through visual stimuli that the consumer interprets to result in a perception of the food product. The formed perceptions have a direct effect on the consumers' choice of product at the point of purchase. This indicates the importance of attention capturing packaging attributes and effective communication between the product and the consumer. However, little research is available regarding food packaging, specifically about the South African consumer in this context. This study was conducted to explore a group of South African consumers' perceptions of food packaging through a qualitative research approach. The research also aimed to explore how perceptions are formed through the perceptual process. This was achieved by interviewing 25 participants using semi-structured interviews during which participants were questioned about their general perceptions regarding food packaging. A projective technique using mock packaging was employed to investigate the three steps in the perceptual process namely exposure, attention and comprehension . Results from the first objective indicated that consumer perceptions regarding food packaging can be divided into functional and physical food packaging attributes. Participants were exposed to mock packaging’s which acted as stimuli in the perceptual process. Resulting perceptions of sales packaging attributes consisted of information and visual attributes. These stimuli were interpreted and divided into consumers' general and negative food packaging associations. These results were applied to an existing perceptual process model as part of an information processing system that might aid the food industry to gain a better understanding of the stimuli consumers themselves indicated as important in forming their perceptions regarding food packaging.
- Health Sciences