Title: The perceived size of packages of complex vs. simple shape depends upon the number of packages presented

Authors: Lawrence L. Garber Jr.; Eva M. Hyatt; Ünal Ö. Boya

Addresses: Department of Marketing & Entrepreneurship, Elon University, 2075 Campus Box, Elon, NC 27244, USA ' John A. Walker College of Business, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608, USA ' John A. Walker College of Business, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608, USA

Abstract: A research gap exists regarding the respective effects of package shape and presentation context on size perception. Some prior research shows that complex packages appear larger than simple packages of equal volume. Other research shows the opposite. We resolve the dilemma by showing that shape and presentation context interact to create size impressions. Subjects estimated the relative volumes of sets of packages whose shapes are simple or complex, presented in package sets whose numbers range from two to 16. When packages are displayed in sets of nine or more, packages of simple shape appear larger than packages of complex shape. When packages are presented in sets of eight or less, complex packages appear larger than simple packages. This reversal suggests that the volume estimation strategies employed by consumers change when the complexity of the visual tableau before them leads to cognitive overload.

Keywords: packaging; package shape; presentation context; shelf clutter; size estimation; size estimation heuristics; size estimation error; volume estimation; perceived size; package size; complex shapes; simple shapes; size perception; cognitive overload.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMP.2014.061475

International Journal of Management Practice, 2014 Vol.7 No.2, pp.144 - 159

Published online: 26 May 2014 *

Full-text access for editors Full-text access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article