Aparna Sundar is an expert in marketing, consumer behavior, product design and package design. At the University of Oregon, she is an assistant professor of marketing in the Lundquist College of Business. Aparna is interested in visual aesthetic and other sensory cues of product design, package design and logo composition in the way that it informs consumer decision making. Her research explores ways in which marketers, retailers and product manufactures can leverage consumer inferences based on elements of design. Aparna can also talk about the influence of food labels on packaging, and elements of branding such as logo placement and logo color, which biases consumer perceptions.
Areas of Expertise (5)
Media Appearances (5)
Beautiful Is Functional - a Few Words About Products We Cannot Take Eyes Off
Aparna Sundar, Theodore J. Noseworthy and Karen A. Machleit assumed that if it is not possible to assess the functionality and usability of the product consumers will evaluate these parameters by esthetics of packaging. Consumers were not aware of that phenomenon; products came from cosmetics industry.
In the preliminary studies they tried to determine whether the participants perceive the selected packaging of body lotion as a more or less attractive. For this purpose, they evaluated products in various degree of packaging esthetics. Then the results of preliminary studies were used for the main study where researchers used packaging of products assessed extremely high and extremely low in terms of attractiveness.
Why Airships Should Replace Jets for Moving Freight
The Globe and Mail online
Dr. Noseworthy’s latest research into the topic, co-authored by Aparna Sundar of the University of Oregon, is published in the Journal of Consumer Research. The study delves into the intersection of brand personality and product packaging and how that affects consumer decisions.
Dr. Noseworthy says consumers react differently to products depending on how their brand “personality” is perceived. Brands deemed to be exciting and creative, such as Apple, can benefit from presenting a product in a way that takes consumers off-guard.
When Sensory Marketing Works and When it Backfires
Harvard Business Review online
If you’ve ever picked up a product and took note of how it feels in your hand, you understand the power of sensory marketing. Manufacturers understand it too, which is why tactile information like the famous contour of a Coca-Cola bottle or the textured burlap packaging of Marfa brand soaps are unique and memorable. Some manufacturers also incorporate smell, as in the scratch-and-sniff packaging by Glade and Tide, while others rely on color, such as the trademark brown of UPS or the robin’s egg blue of Tiffany & Co.
The Science Behind Brands' Colors
Dr. Aparna Sundar of The University Of Oregon explains how brands can and do use color to their advantage.
When Your Packaging Should Surprise Consumers—and When It Shouldn't
Packaging Digest online
When packaging information from two different senses conflicts, a feeling of surprise can be evoked. Such a mismatch in packaging can be leveraged by certain brands—but not by all.
Visual cues in packaging can undoubtedly go a long way toward drawing the attention of a consumer to a product. We know, for example, that where a company’s logo is placed on the package leads to brand recognition in the mind of the consumer and appropriate placement evokes positive feelings toward the product.
Sight, however, is not the only sense that packaging design can appeal to. Consumers interact with products on the shelf using input from all the senses (sight, touch, sound, smell and taste), and certainly many retailers leverage sensory marketing to sell products.
In service encounters, the meaning inferred by a customer is a result of verbal and visual communication. This research focuses on how visual metaphorical communication in a service encounter can evoke the concept of power. We show that when representation of the service provider is at the bottom (versus top) of an image, the consumer's perception of their own power is increased (Study 1). Study 2 demonstrates that power perceptions interact with self-presentational motives to influence intentions to use the service. Further, perceptions of power mediate the effect of visual representation on usage intentions. This occurs only when consumption is public and self-presentational concerns are high. In Study 3, we demonstrate that when the concept of power has little applicability, visual representation of perceived power does not affect intentions to use the service provider. Further, only individuals with a high need for status access the conceptual link between power and visual representation (Study 4). Together, the results further our understanding of the use of visual metaphorical communication in a service encounter.
Across four studies, the authors demonstrate that consumers intuitively link disconfirmation, specifically sensory disconfirmation (when touch disconfirms expectations by sight), to a brand’s personality. Negative disconfirmation is often associated with negative posttrial evaluations. However, the authors find that when negative sensory disconfirmation is introduced by an exciting brand, the source of disconfirmation can sometimes be perceived positively. This occurs because consumers intuitively view disconfirmation as more authentic of an exciting personality. Similarly, despite the wealth of literature linking positive disconfirmation to positive posttrial evaluations, the authors find that sensory confirmation is more preferred for sincere brands because consumers intuitively view confirmation as more authentic of a sincere personality. The authors conclude by demonstrating the intuitive nature of this phenomenon by showing that the lay belief linking brand personality to disconfirmation does not activate in a context where sensory disconfirmation encourages a more deliberative assessment of the product.
Despite the moral gravity and far-reaching consequences of ethical judgment, evidence shows that such judgment is surprisingly malleable, prone to bias, informed by intuition and implicit associations, and swayed by mere circumstance. In this vein, this research examines how mere colors featured in logos can bias consumers’ ethical judgments about a retailer. Exposure to a logo featuring an eco-friendly color makes an ethically ambiguous practice seem more ethical; however, exposure to a logo featuring a non-eco-friendly color makes the same practice seem less ethical (Study 1). This effect is due to the embodied meaning of color, not referential meanings associated with the names of colors, and it is mediated by perceptions of a retailer’s eco-friendliness (Study 2a). Furthermore, although the word “green” appears to influence ethical ratings of retail practices more than the word “blue,” visual exposure to either color evokes similar perceptions of eco-friendliness and influences ethical judgments (Study 2b). Study 2c assesses and rules out alternative explanations for this effect. Critically, an eco-friendly color can skew judgments even when the practices judged are not ethically ambiguous (Study 3). Individual differences in ethical sensitivity moderate the observed effect, such that individuals who are less ethically sensitive are less influenced by color (Study 4). The article concludes with a discussion on how logo colors shape consumers’ perceptions of retailer ethicality.
Although merely repeating a product claim does not influence the objective validity of the claim, it often increases the subjective validity of the claim (the truth effect). Research notes that the truth effect plays an important role in health advertising. The present research investigates the moderating role of sensitivity to feelings of fluency (or processing ease) on the truth effect. The truth effect was more pronounced when the need for affect was high rather than low (Study 1) and when consumers were primed to trust their feelings (Study 2). Finally, Study 3 and Study 4 replicate these findings using advertising appeals. Advertisements that encourage consumers to focus on their feelings increase susceptibility to the truth effect.
When information is missing or unknown, consumers often form nutritional inferences based on perceived attribute variability across brands. Four experiments show that less favorable nutritional inferences are formed when perceived attribute variability is high as opposed to low. This effect occurs when two attributes differing in perceived variability are presented or when the attribute is held constant and perceived variability is manipulated through priming. However, this effect is reduced when a health halo label is present as opposed to absent. Furthermore, the presence of a health halo label increases the amount of a product that is actually consumed when perceived attribute variability is high (vs. low) and when consumers learn from experience. Together, the results suggest that perceived attribute variability and the health halo effect jointly influence inference and behavior.