Child consumers' perception of colour and graphics in cereal box packaging design
Visser, Sophia Dorathea
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Literature addressing South African children as consumers is limited. Considering the growing importance of this young emerging market, a study addressing some aspects of the South African child as a consumer might provide valuable information and guidelines to marketers and manufacturers, in particular, a way to attract these young consumers' attention to products that will possibly better serve their needs. Colour and graphics can be highlighted as a method to reach these consumers. This can be attributed to the fact that children between the ages of three and seven years are within the preoperational stage of cognitive development and their attention is consequently fixed on only one stimulus at a time, for instance, the colour and/or graphics. Cereal is a widely acclaimed children's product of which a wide variety is available on the shelves of South African grocery outlets. However, the extent to which South African children belonging to this age group are influenced by these claimed colour and graphics is debatable. Based on these arguments the present study was driven by the question whether seven-year-old child consumers have definite colour and graphical perceptual preferences regarding the packaging design of cereal products. An exploratory investigation was conducted within a South African context to meet the following objectives, to determine firstly, the association of seven-year-old children regarding colour and graphics of cereal box packaging by exploring the perceptually preferred colours and graphics in cereal box packaging. Secondly, to determine the conceptualisation of seven-year-old children regarding colour and graphics of cereal box packaging design through the composition of an ideal cereal box. Findings of this qualitative study confirmed existing perceptual preferences among child consumers that should be taken into consideration by manufacturers and marketers. Results included a tendency under child consumers to focus on personal factors when perceptually most preferred cereal box colour and graphic choices were made. This was in contrast with colour and graphical character qualities being the main criteria when perceptually least preferred cereal box design choices had to be made. It is evident that manufacturers should focus on softer, aesthetically pleasing characters on an either pink or purple background when girls are the target market, whereas boys would favour humorous, strong, aggressive characters on a background of any of the primary colours. Most significant, was regardless of their preferred colour and graphics, the most important factor was their pre-occupation with matching graphics to the background colours of the packaging. Manufacturers and marketers can use this information to package their products to be as child consumer friendly as possible, which could result in a favourable perception of and behaviour towards the trademark well into adulthood.