Product packaging aesthetics can be the first observable signal of a product’s underlying traits. Two experimental studies examine the impact of package aesthetics on consumers’ evaluations of sensory hedonic products. The studies show that when paired with inferior or superior product quality, neutral package aesthetics can serve to intensify the negativity or positivity of product experience. Results indicate that surprise and disappointment mediate the relationship between package aesthetics and product evaluation. These findings provide evidence that an aesthetic, which serves to neutralize expectation states and in turn intensifies experience through contrast, may be as important of a contextual factor to consider as aesthetics that bias perceptions via a halo effect.
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Given package aesthetics can create affective expectations (beliefs about the likely pleasure or positivity associated with a consumption experience) (Horsky and Honea 2009) the terminology neutral affective expectation connotes the absence of strong beliefs about the likely positivity or negativity of a consumption experience.
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Honea, H., Horsky, S. The power of plain: Intensifying product experience with neutral aesthetic context. Mark Lett 23, 223–235 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11002-011-9149-y