Preservation, Rejuvenation, or Confusion? Changing Package Designs for Heritage Brands

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Updating a brand's packaging presents a challenge, especially for heritage brands. This study examines how and when continuity in visual package design influences brand heritage perceptions. A pre-study uses focus groups to corroborate evidence for the constructs and processes involved. Three experiments show that lower continuity designs create confusion, which in turn damages a brand's heritage identity. Study 1a provides initial evidence for the process and demonstrates that effects occur regardless of prior brand usage. Study 1b replicates the mediating role of confusion with two different product categories, controlling for brand attachment. Study 1c rules out alternative mediating processes through other emotions. Employing a quasiexperimental design involving ten brands, Study 2 demonstrates that a brand's mascot can buffer against detrimental effects of low design continuity on confusion and consequent perceptions of brand heritage and purchase intention while controlling for brand familiarity and need for cognition. Together, these findings contribute to a better understanding of consumer responses to changes in package design and heritage brands.

Publication Title

Psychology & Marketing



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post print (2 year embargo)

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