The role of packaging for consumer products: understanding the move towards ‘plain’ tobacco packaging

Ford, Allison; Moodie, Crawford and Hastings, Gerard (2012). The role of packaging for consumer products: understanding the move towards ‘plain’ tobacco packaging. Addiction Reseach & Theory, 20(4) pp. 339–347.




The Australian Government intends to introduce plain tobacco packaging in 2012. We consider whether such a move appears justified by examining the wider marketing literature in order to understand the role that packaging has for consumer goods. Packaging is often called the fifth ‘p’ of the marketing mix. It is an effective marketing medium for all consumer products and helps build consumer relationships through possession and usage. Common packaging strategies to promote the product, distinguish products from competitors, communicate brand values and target specific consumer groups include innovative, special edition, value and green packaging. These strategies, combined with the visual and structural aspects of packaging design, such as colour, size and shape, influence consumer perceptions and purchase and usage behaviour. This gives packaging an important role at point-of-purchase and also post-purchase. Packaging also has a close relationship with the product, influencing perceived product attributes, and is a key representative of the brand. We conclude that plain tobacco packaging appears justified, based on the importance of packaging as a promotional tool, and will fundamentally restrict the opportunity for tobacco companies to influence consumers through package design.

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