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The struggle for supremacy in brand positioning using packaging has introduced various approaches to designing a package for a product. The assumption that packaging conveys only a physical appearance of a product seems to be overtaken by recent marketing assessment, hence, marketers have employed new strategies to out-do their competitors in designing a package for a product. This informed this study on the influence of packaging on consumer choice of beauty products with a focus on Marykay, Sleek and Black Opal cosmetic products. The survey research design was adopted and questionnaire was used to elicit responses from 385 consumers of cosmetic products drawn from Universities, Polytechnics, secondary schools and civil servants in Enugu State using convenient sampling technique. The finding reveals that the functional value of a cosmetic product is a determining factor for consumer’s choice while the various patterns of packaging have varying degree of influence on consumer patronage of beauty products. Based on this, the study recommended that audience research should guide the designing of package for a cosmetic product and that packaging should convey the true quality of a product.



1.1             Background to the Study

Packaging is the process of conceptualizing, planning, and designing a packet or wrapper to contain, protect and merchandise a product (Kotler 2003). In modern time marketing, if packaging does not sell a product, it is as good as worthless. Highlighting the role of packaging in marketing or communicating a distinguished advertising practitioner, Chris Doghudje, observed that “packaging sells even more than advertising” (Nwokoye, 1987). That is because most goods like cosmetics and others have little or no advertising support. But they must be packaged. The vital function of packaging comes out clearly in the environment of self service stores, where sales have to be dependent on the strength of packaging. This is achieved by designing a package to attract consumer’s attention at the point of purchase, to furnish consumers with needed information about the product, so as to provide the on-the-spot persuasion and incentive that is often vital to make sales or required to propel consumers into buying. .

According to Rita Kuvykaite(2009) packaging attracts consumer’s attention to particular brand, enhances its image, and influences consumer’s perceptions about a product. Also package imparts unique value to products (Underwood, Klein & Burke, 2001; Silayoi & Speece, 2004),works as a tool for differentiation, i.e. helps consumers to choose the product from wide range of similar  products, stimulates customers buying behavior (Wells, Farley & Armstrong, 2007). Thus package performs an important role in marketing communications and could be treated as one of the most important factor influencing consumer’s purchase of package.

Defining packaging as the vehicle that conveys the brand of a product to consumer (Amarchand et al( 1979) opines that the big test of packaging is how well it succeeds in registering relevant marketing messages to the target – audience. To scale the big test, packaging has to be supported by the twin-pillars of planning and innovation. Scheme and Smith(1980) views packaging as a crucial activity in product planning. Since packaging fulfills an important promotional function in modern marketing (Osuagwu, 1985), it has to be “aesthetically pleasing and be distinctive enough to stand when placed side by side with competing brands on the retail shelf (Nwokoye, 1987).

 The pack, according to Unilever International, has become an integral part of the product; without it, there would be no brand and no freedom of choice. On display, the pack becomes a silent assistant in the choice process. This is why products are packaged not just for easy identification but to compel buying actions. The key factor for success (KFS) in packaging is the application of the marketing approach in product packaged to contain, protect, and merchandise a given product (Nwokoye, 1987). The marketing approach to product packaging takes cognizance of the fact that every product communicates a message, and in view of this, a product must be packaged to communicate the desired message to the target market. To effect a proper packaging, your image or personality of the product must be totally different from that of any other product. The ultimate challenge is to make your package distinct and unique so that it is instantly recognised whether alone or when placed side by side with other packages.

Packaging is of great importance to both the seller and buyers of products. It can prevent spoilage, breakage, tampering, or theft; enhance convenience in use or storage; and make products easier to identify. A significant improvement in packaging can even create a new product by expanding the ways in which it can be used, and thus its potential markets. For example, a soup that is packaged in a microbe bowl might suddenly increase its sales to working people.

Prior to World War II, packaging was used primarily to surround and protect products during storage, transportation and distribution (Onah, 1972). Some packaging was designed with aesthetic appeal for easy identification by the end consumer, but package design was typically left to technicians. After the World War II, however, companies became more interested in marketing and promotion as a means of enticing customers to purchase their products. As a result, more manufacturers began to view packaging as an integral element of overall business marketing strategies to their buyers. Thus, packaging became a vital means of differentiating items and inferring inundated consumers.

The importance of consumer packaging was elevated in the United States during the late 1970s and 1980s. Rapid post war economic expansion and market growth waned during that period, forcing companies to increase and entice consumers to their product or brand at the expense of the competition. The product mix or component is not complete without packaging. Packaging in developing countries would sound to be out of place when we still see market women and traders rap their wares with banana leaves, old newspapers and green leaves. These traditional methods of packaging, notwithstanding, the need for packaging is growing fast.

According to (Onah and Thomas 2004) “packaging is the use of container, components, plus decoration or labels to protect, contain, identify and facilitate the use of products. It is containment and packaging prior to sales with the primary purpose of facilitating the use of products. The container or wrappers is called package. The package include up to three levels of materials:  (a) The primary which is the immediate container, (b) The secondary is referred to packaging necessary to protect the primary package. (c) The third is shipping packaging which referred to packaging necessary for storage.

Thousands of new products are introduced every year, more than 20,000 to be exact, (Onah & Thomas, 2004).  How can products compete, not only with established brand but with the plethora of new products that are being introduced? The answer is ‘The packaging’. The right packaging with the right message will rise above the competitive landscape. But how many companies understand the value behind packaging as a market tool?

Understanding the complexities of how a package reaches out a consumer is one of the most important things to bear in mind. Evaluating or developing product packaging with the consumer in mind is the first step in creating a package that markets all products attributes to ultimate decision makers, and the consumers.

According to Nwokoye (1999), cosmetic industries represents one of the industries where packaging as a marketing instrument plays a significant role. Besides, in recent times, the industry has attracted a lot of manufacturers. Every one of the manufacturer comes with his own brand to the market, and more so to force his own brand into the customers’ shopping bag. Cosmetic products are predominantly aesthetic-feeling - oriented products. Packaging design can be assumed to have more effect in consumer’s choice behaviour in cosmetic products since visual properties of a product also contribute to aesthetic. Aesthetic properties are subjective properties, thus, can be regarded as perception based. Since consumers perceptions can be said to be more critical in assessing the value of products, cosmetic products are assumed to be more sensitive in value assessment. Owning to this fact, cosmetic sector was preferred to evaluate consumers’ assessment of packaging value. To elaborate more on packaging value in cosmetic industry, Marykay cosmetic, Sleek cosmetic, and Black Opal were chosen as case study.

1.2   Historical Background


  Marykay cosmetic was founded on September 13th, 1963 in Dallas, Texas  U.S.A, by Marykay Ash. The company has an initial working capital of $5,000. The right to use a skin care formula was created by Marykay ash. The first basic line of cosmetic was manufactured to specification under the label “Beauty by Marykay”. It includes what was called “Basic Skin Care Set”. Marykay Ash was a highly motivated entrepreneur. She had a plan to become “the finest and largest skin care teaching organization in the world” (Bartlett, 1989). Marykay became the walking showcase for company’s products. Her values and motivational incentives became the basic for the firm’s marketing programme. Her definition of happiness brought women to the firm as beauty consultants, sales directors and users of the product line. The colour “pink” was her “favourite” colour, and was found in her attire, her office, her home and every part of her corporate life. The original corporate strategy of the firm was based on the sales force or “Beauty Consultant”. Many of the company’s skin care products were sold at home demonstration shows. They were supervised and motivated by sales directors who also were responsible for replenishing the sales force on a continuing basis with new recruits. The plan was a corporate strategy designed to include the best features and avoid mistakes. As part of the plan, the marketing programme was intended to foster retail sales to ultimate consumers. This strategy manifested itself annually in what the company called “seminar”. Seminar was an elaborately produced series of four consecutive three days sessions which attract a total of 20,000 sales participants to the Dallas convention center. The highly motivated event had a tradition of recognition, education and entertainment. It includes hours of classes on product knowledge, marketing and sales techniques and other business management topics. All of the firm’s products were sold on the principal bases of price and quality in highly competitive markets. On the basis of information available to it from industry’s sources, management believed there were some other companies (including both direct sales and manufacturing companies) that had products that compete with Marykay. The firm competes directly with direct sales companies in sales of cosmetic product and indirectly with firms which manufactured cosmetics items which were sold in retail or department stores. Among the dominant companies were Sleek and Black opal cosmetics.

  Sleek Cosmetic

Sleek cosmetic primarily sold its cosmetic products through stores. It was larger than Marykay in terms of sales and had more resources. Sleek cosmetic was founded in 1989. It is one of the leading cosmetic products competing with Marykay. Sleek cosmetic is known for its super pigmented palette and product in general. The Sleek make-up brand is youthful and fresh and its packaging colour is purple which signifies youthfulness. Sleek make-up engages the interest of the young women from a range of different backgrounds.

       Their ethos is to produce a range which boasts of extremely trendy, fashion forward shades and innovative product which can be worn by all. New product are launched regularly keeping the range fresh and desirable, they deliver quality product at affordable prices. They are well-known for their range of purple colour, divine palette, and for their high street brand, and also, for their huge portfolio of quality products which are on par with globally recognized premium brand.

Headquartered in London, UK, Sleek make-up is an established brand throughout Europe, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria with plans to take on new territories. The range is currently stocked in super drug stores in UK.

 Black Opal

Black opal cosmetic is one of the leading cosmetic products competing with Marykay and Sleek beauty products. Black opal was substantially larger than Marykay and Sleek cosmetics in terms of total independent sales volume.  Industrial research has identified Black opal as a direct competitor, as having products which are used by older people who wants less expensive products. Black opal was founded in 1994 by Bio cosmetic research labs. Black opal was developed with the consultation of Dr. Chery Burgess, an African American dermatologist who had spent years treating troubled skin and seeing the inadequacy of over-the-counter skin care product available for dark skin. Black opal’s consulting dermatologist, Dr. Chery Burgess, is the founder, medical director and president of the centre for dermatologic survey, in Washington, D.C. Dr. Burgess earned her doctorate of medicine degree from Howard University College of medicine, in Washington D.C. in 1984 and completed a residency in dermatology in 1988. Dr. Chery Burgess is a diplomat of the national Board of Dermatology, American Society for Dermatology Surgery.

A woman of Jamaican descent, who embodied the Black opal consumers provided the inspiration, the chemist possessed the unparallel expertise as a product formulator. Together they developed a comprehensive and affordable collection of targeted skin care products that would combine state-of-the-art technology advances with proven ingredients to service the unique skin care needs of skin colour for women. Recognizing the importance of building from that strong heritage, Black opal later introduced a line of make-up specifically designed to address the beauty concerns on women of colour. With an impressive range of formulas and stunning collection of shades, their make-up complements and enhances a woman’s natural beauty. Black opal is a leading skin care and colour cosmetic line specifically designed to address the unique skin care needs of women of colour. The three creative forces combined their passion for beauty and their joint knowledge of issues specific to skin of colour to develop the ground breaking brand known as Black opal.

Black opal was seriously competing with Marykay in terms of expenses and packaging colour. Pink was selected as corporate colour for Marykay because Marykay’s favourite colour is pink, and pink is an attractive colour for packaging of her products. The pink colour was considered to be more subtle, more current, and more upscale. It is part of the quality to convey. The packaging colour for Black opal is black because her product was made mainly for black women.

Furthermore, product appearance or packaging can provide value in itself; many people like to buy a product that looks aesthetically pleasing. As the consumers choice is often complex. It is difficult to decide upon during the product development process. For example, a product with bright colour may be valued, but these same colours may give consumers the idea that the product is of low quality.  To be able to give guidelines for packaging following from its influence on the consumers’ product choice, it is necessary to first answer the question of what exactly constitutes the value of a product package for consumers. Consumers’ satisfaction is the ultimate goal of any sustainable business. Walter and Lancaster (1999) have stated that value is created by any product or service’s attitude, which motivate the consumer to buy product. According to Woodall (2003), attribute of products and services which helps to create consumer value can be divided into two groups, namely: (a) factors that decrease customers cost (b) factors that enhance customers need. Packaging must perform money task, it must attract features and give confidence to the consumer.

However this research sorts to identify the influence of packaging on consumer’s choice and buying behaviour in the fast growing consumer’s goods market. It also intends to know what exactly moves consumer’s to buying of a product, what factor and elements influences consumers in their choice of a brand over other brands in the market place.

  1.3   Statement of the Problem

It is time that companies realized that they live in a marketplace and thus the need to package their products and services to captivate the affection of their potential consumers. Consumers tend to appreciate goods that have good packaging. The size, colour, design, label, price of products affects a consumer’s behaviour and tilt to his choice of products. Consumers in a market with a large number of competitors and high discount to products and services, high advertisement spending and a product brand must be packaged such that the consumer will admire and be comfortable with the product, thus, leading to success and profitability of the product firm. 

The consumer buying behaviour is affected if those elements of packaging are lacking. The absence of these elements depreciates the consumer’s decision over the purchase of a product. In other words the value of a product is rated in its packaging. “A well packaged product sells itself.”(lyoyd 2003). According to Brassing and Pettit (2003) packaging is a method of communicating products information, both product and brand character to the consumer.

To what extent do packaging elements influence consumer choice of a product? A phenomena which has largely placed firms in situations which are sometimes difficult to deal with based on the consumers behaviour towards the packaging strategy used in the market competition.

Consumers always have factors that affect their purchase of a particular product in the market. In the world of complex product lines and service offering, value is lost because sellers cannot accurately determine what consumers are willing to pay for in a product features and attributes. 

1.4       Objectives of the Study

         The consumer is a critical factor in the profit maximizing enterprise of every business entity. Studying how the consumer react to package changes in his purchase patterns are thus critical and worth investigating.

However the objective of this study includes the following:

1.      To investigate the relationship between packaging and consumers choice of products.

2.      To determine how the patterns of packaging of cosmetics influence choice of beauty products.

3.      To ascertain what is responsible for some consumers’ patronage of a brand product over other brands.

4.      To find out whether good packaging can contribute to higher sales.

  1.5     Research Questions 

To provide a framework for eliciting solution to the research problems, it is necessary that some research questions be formulated. A number of research questions are given below:

1.      What is the relationship between packaging and consumer choice of                          cosmetic product?

2.      How does the patterns of packaging of cosmetics influence choice of beauty products?

3.      In what way is packaging responsible for consumer’s patronage of one cosmetic product over another?

4.      What is responsible for higher sales of cosmetic products?

1.6     Significance of the Study

This research work is significant in many ways. Academically, the findings in this research will contribute to the existing body of knowledge as a referral material and will help illuminate on the role of packaging and how it influences behaviour pattern of consumers. Scholars and future researchers will find this work beneficial because it is bound to contribute information, and enlighten them on the usefulness of packaging.

 To professional and/or marketing promoters, this research work will stimulate competitions among them and enhance market standardization of goods or products.

1.7    Definition of Terms

The following terms which features prominently in this study are defined to enhance understanding and measurement. They include:

·        Influence:  It can be defined as the power somebody or something has to affect other people’s thinking or actions.

·        Packaging:  Packaging refers to the container or wrapper that holds a          product or group of products.

·        Consumer:  It refers to the buyer of goods and services.

·        Beauty Products: a product specifically made to enhance the natural          beauty of a woman. 

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