Is Beauty in the Aisles of the Retailer? Package Processing in Visually Complex Contexts

Urlich Orth, Roberta Crouch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Visual appeal is an important consideration in the design of brand packages because attractiveness guides behavior. The visual complexity of a context (i.e., the quantity, irregularity, detail, and dissimilarity of objects) in which a retailer displays a package may impact its attractiveness by influencing attention and processing fluency. Employing consumer samples, and stimuli ranging from the abstract to the realistic, three studies provide evidence that people process a package more fluently, thus increasing its attractiveness, when it is presented in a low rather than high complexity context. This effect is more pronounced with inherently appealing packages, and with people who are more field-dependent or pursuing utilitarian shopping goals. Study 1 establishes effects by employing psychometric measures and abstract stimuli; study 2 corroborates findings with another product category and realistic stimuli; and study 3 complements psychometric measures with eye tracking data to demonstrate that visually more complex contexts divert viewer attention, hereby lowering processing fluency and target attractiveness. The authors discuss the theoretical contribution and strategic insights the research provides for retailers, brand managers, and designers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)524-537
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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