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Pharmaceutical markets are expanding considerably due to the aging population, higher development costs and also direct-to-consumer advertising which entails more demands from consumers and prescriptions from physicians. Pharmaceutical packaging as a visual communication tool is promised to a mounting importance, because of growing blister packaging, safety standards upgrading, expansion of OTC drugs and developing television advertising. This study examines the impact of packaging color on consumers’ expectancies towards the drug and seeks determining if prototypical color codes exist for drug categories. Results show a significant influence of color and darkness on perceived drug potency. Gender differences are discussed.
Bernard Roullet, Olivier Droulers (2005), PHARMACEUTICAL PACKAGING COLOR AND
DRUG EXPECTANCY, in Advances in Consumer Research Volume 32, eds. Geeta Menon and
Akshay R. Rao, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 164-171.
Advances in Consumer Research Volume 32, 2005 Pages 164-171
Bernard Roullet, CREM, Universite de Rennes 1 B France
Olivier Droulers, CREM, Universite de Rennes 1 B France
[Both authors equally contributed to this work.]
Pharmaceutical markets are expanding considerably due to the aging population, higher development
costs and also direct-to-consumer advertising which entails more demands from consumers and
prescriptions from physicians. Pharmaceutical packaging as a visual communication tool is promised
to a mounting importance, because of growing blister packaging, safety standards upgrading,
expansion of OTC drugs and developing television advertising. This study examines the impact of
packaging color on consumers’ expectancies towards the drug and seeks determining if prototypical
color codes exist for drug categories. Results show a significant influence of color and darkness on
perceived drug potency. Gender differences are discussed.
"You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and
believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill and you stay in
Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes." ["Matrix",
written by Andy & Larry Wachowski]
These words, pronounced by the character Morpheus in the "Matrix" movie, illustrate the evocative
power or potency of a pill color. During the last three decades, a dozen studies have dealt with the
evaluation of a drug’s expectancy or potency according to its intrinsic color. But quite a few have
addressed the subject of prescription drug package color effects on consumers’ judgments and
attitudes. The subject is not superfluous because direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising now
represents an important means of promotion for pharmaceutical companies, knowing that the color
and form of a packaging or a medicine are the only visual aspects or hints presented in print or on
television (see for instance Nexium, "the purple pill" from AstraZeneca). Moreover, mail order
(direct sales) distribution which now represents the second retail distribution channel behind
drugstores (independent and chain outlets combined) relies heavily on the visuals of drugs promoted
line. We propose, in this paper, first to give some key facts about the pharmaceutical industry and
state why drug packaging is assuming a growing role in product promotion. Then we shall review
the few previous studies pertaining to the effects of drug color. Due to space limitations, color
psychology and its applications to other fields of consumer research (print advertising, retail
atmospherics) will not be reviewed in this paper. Finally, we shall present a laboratory experiment
studying attitudes towards prescription drugs, according to the dominant color of a drug package.
The results of this experiment will be discussed and expanded.
In 2003, about 466.3 billion dollars were spent worldwide on medications (IMS Health, 2004). This
figure includes ethical (prescription
only medicine; POM), semi
ethical and OTC drug sales. Nearly
half of this sum (49%) was spent in the USA, 25% in Europe and 11% in Japan. During the same
year, the 291 million US residents spent 203 billion dollars on prescription drugs alone (+ 11.2% vs.
2002), representing 3.22 billion scripts (+ 2.4%; NACDS, 2004). These figures have more than
tripled within ten years (IMS Health; NACDS Economics Department). This 2003 global spending
corresponds to an average of 698 dollars per capita in the USA. Demographic (aging of population),
social (Medicare reform), economic (increasing R&D costs, high levels of domestic prices) and
marketing factors (growing share of mail-order channel and increasing direct promotion
investments) explain this rapid evolution to some extent. Another cause of this escalation is imputed
to direct-to-consumer advertising (Findlay, 2000; Kaiser Family Foundation [KFF], 2003), which is
forbidden in Europe (Cozens, 2002). In this general context, several reasons explain why packages
(for both prescription and OTC drugs) and especially printed color on them are becoming a major
issue in pharmaceutical marketing and justify the present study:
Growing direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA): in 2003, $3.23 billion were spent on DTC
advertising (Lawrence and Zaugg, 2004). Since the FDA authorized less stringent regulations about
communication in 1997 (Sumpradit, Ascione, and Bagozzi, 2004), television has become the major
medium for drug communication (66% of DTCA in 2003 vs. 13% in 1994). Most observers
recognize that DTCA works: "every additional $1 the industry spent on DTC advertising in 2000
yielded an additional $4.20 in sales" (KFF, 2003) and that it influences physicians’ prescriptions
(Mintzes, 2003). The drug appearance or package on TV (i.e. packshot) then becomes the main
visual and the principal means of differentiation between suppliers.
Drug samples to consumers: sampling is already considered as an efficient promotion tool (Joseph
and Mantrala, 2003) but DTC sampling is about to develop; the packaging could have a greater
impact than standard compulsory information notices.
Packaging standards: although 80% of solid medicines in US are conditioned in bottles (less than
15% in Europe), experts forecast a fast growth for blister packaging (Pilchik, 2000). While the issue
is not prevalent today in the US for prescription drugs, it could soon become, as total world demand
for blister packs should exceed that of bottles in 2007 (Packaging Digest, 2004). A blister is
composed of a thermoformed plastic with a sealing foil. This latter packaging implies a secondary
cardboard package, displaying a larger printable surface.
Changes of drug status: a substantial number of drugs, previously prescribed by physicians, became
free-access OTC medicines. Now some studies report that nearly 3 OTC purchasing decisions out of
4 are made in-store. Packaging has naturally a role to play.
New FDA regulations on OTC drugs: in March 1999 new regulations (effective April 2002) urged
manufacturers "to standardize their presentation of such information as active ingredients, directions,
uses, warnings, and other data. [] The information must be boxed and cannot include logos, graphics,
or bar codes." (Canale, 2001). Measures against tampering are also being upgraded. All these
dispositions entail a need for larger packaging.
Weapon of massive differentiation: knowing that the color or the form of a medicine per se cannot
be automatically patented or constitute a trademark (for instance, see INTA, 1996; Steele, 2002), a
specific packaging may convey and reinforce brand equity (especially for OTC drugs on drugstores’
Economic worries: more and more counterfeiting and smuggling cases (low-priced export drugs
which are reintroduced into the US) are reported. Losses for the pharmaceutical industry appear
significant. For instance, GlaxoSmithKline felt compelled to change the color of its Combivir7
tablets (from white to red; Murray-West, 2003) aimed at developing countries. Special printing
techniques (bright stocking, nude labeling) are encouraged for limiting illegal practices.
Health issues: experts recognize that the colorful presentation of a medicine (compound or package)
may improve compliance (adherence to treatment) and reduce the risks of confusion (Carter, Taylor,
and Levenson, 2003; Elwyn, Edwards and Britten, 2003) and medication errors (Hethcock, 1978)
which are counted yearly by the thousands.
Order mail growth: Web-based drug selling activities display the highest growth rates (+21.7%
between 2001 and 2002) in the sector. Drug and package visuals are paramount in this medium.
Since the very first days of medicine, the power of a drug appearance and its attached expectancy has
played a significant role on therapeutic success. The placebo effect ("I will please" in Latin) has been
recognized since Socrates (Moerman and Jonas, 2002). The very belief in the physician and/or the
treatment contributes to the cure. Among the manifest signs constructing this belief, the drug
appearance (color and form) and its packaging, may have some influence in efficacy of treatment
(Buckalew and Coffield, 1982a). In the same way, the very brand name of a drug will have
differential therapeutic effects according to its consonance (Klink, 2002) or its notoriety
(Branthwaite and Cooper, 1981).
Previous studies pertaining to prescription drugs and color
Surprisingly, to our knowledge, no specific study addressed the packaging color for pharmaceutical
products as a predictor of drug expectancies. On the other hand, a few studies have been conducted
on the influence of pill color on attitudes towards medication or treatment. We reviewed eight
studies, conducted between 1970 and 1991, to wich we added two extra studies found and reviewed
by de Craen et alii (1996). Most reviewed studies employed either patients or students with limited
sample sizes. Results are sometimes divergent or weakly significant. It nevertheless appears that
color does influence perception of medicine potency or expectancies towards it.
A first group of studies addressed the relationships between color and form of medicine and their
perceived potency and efficacy. Schapira et al. (1970) showed that anxiety was reduced with green
pills and depression with yellow tablets. Cattaneo, Lucchelli and Filippucci (1970), along with
Lucchelli, Cattaneo and Zattoni (1978) demonstrated that blue pills induced quicker and longer sleep
than orange pills. Similar reports were given by Blackwell, Bloomfield and Buncher (1972),
indicating sedative effects of blue capsules. Huskisson (1974) showed that a red placebo is as
efficient as a real analgesic drug. Sallis and Buckalew (1984) demonstrated that the perceived
potency of a drug decreased in function of the following pill color order: red, black, orange, yellow,
green, blue and white.
A second group of studies dealt with the relationships between drug colors and perceived therapeutic
classes. Jacobs and Nordan (1972) showed that red and yellow placebo pills were classified as
stimulants, while a blue placebo was classified as a depressant or a tranquilizer. In two successive
studies, Buckalew and Coffield (1982a; 1982b) demonstrated that some ethnic and cultural factors
could alter general color classifications of medicines. Significant differences between African
American and European American samples were also noted for pill size-strength relationships.
Finally, Buckalew and Ross (1991) revealed that only a few colors presented some obvious link with
therapeutic classes: beige and orange for skin treatment and red for heart condition.
A comprehensive review of literature on the placebo effect of color was also conducted by de Craen
et alii (1996) that covered about three decades. The main conclusions of these authors were that "the
colour of drug seems to influence its effectiveness, but consistent trends are not apparent". They
concluded by writing that further research "contributing to a better understanding of the effect of the
colour of drugs" was warranted. Some authors explain the color placebo effect by the physiological
effects of color (e.g. Jacobs and Hustmyer, 1974) while others merely associate it with idiosyncratic
color preferences (Schindel, 1962) or learned cultural symbolism (Adams and Osgood, 1973).
Given the absence of previous works on packaging color and perceived drug expectancy and
potency, we shall set forth our hypotheses by relying on previous studies exploring relations between
these perceptions and the drug color. We therefore hypothesize:
H1: a "warm-colored" (red or yellow) packaging will be perceived as
containing a more potent drug than "cool-colored" (blue or green) ones.
This would impact various expectancies related to a given medicine.
Indeed, some authors like Berlyne (1960) or Jacob and Hustmyer (1974)
have stressed the arousing nature of long visible wavelengths.
H2: a dark packaging will be assessed as containing a more potent drug
than a light one. This would impact various expectancies related to a given
medicine. As early as the 1950’s, authors underlined the potency effect of
dark or saturated colors (Osgood, Suci and Tannenbaum, 1957).
H3a: "warm color" packaging will be more often associated with stimulant
therapeutic classes. Recurrent studies indeed showed associations between
red and stimulant qualities or drugs (Jacobs and Nordan, 1972).
H3b: conversely, "cool color" packaging will be more often associated with
sedative/soothing therapeutic classes (Lucchelli, Cattaneo and Zattoni,
The main objective was to assess the impact of a drug packaging color on related perceptions and
expectancies. A pilot study revealed that general beliefs about prescription drugs as a whole were
likely to moderate perceptions and attitudes toward a specific packaging. A specific measurement
instrument for these beliefs was consequently warranted. Horne, Weinman and Hankins (1999) have
constructed a specific scale, the 'Beliefs about Medicines Questionnaire’ (BMQ) that was primarily
intended for patients with heavy chronic pathologies (psychoses, renal dialyses and heart conditions),
while Perrien et al. (1998) used a general involvement scale for an analgesic. Therefore, a more
general index targeting consumers (ICOMED) was created in another study and used in the present
one. This experiment consisted in exposing 150 European participants to a prescription drug
packaging bearing a specific color and asking them to make several judgments about the drug’s
perceived qualities.
Independent variables
Independent variables comprise packaging color (hue and brightness), the pre-test mood, gender and
general beliefs towards medicines.
Stimuli selection
Packaging form and appearance. In Europe, most solid medicines (pills, tablets, etc.) are packaged in
blisters and boxes rather than in bottles (about 85% against 20% in the US; Pilchik, 2000). This
blister, composed of PVC and foil, is usually kept by the consumer in its box. This form of
packaging is now increasing significantly in the US (+16% annually vs. 6% for bottles). Also, for
reasons of ecological validity and for the sake of practicality, an actual drug cardboard packaging
was tested, i.e. a rectangular box (Cf. Figure 1), with a fictitious brand name.
The packaging of an actual generic analgesic drug was used for this experiment. Once scanned, the
box image was altered in several ways: the original brand name was erased and replaced by a
fictitious but credible name (cf. infra); the "paracetamol" mention was erased because of its popular
notoriety; the background colorsBexcept for the white or gray partsBwere modified and switched to
a condition color.
Choice of color conditions. In this experiment, 7 conditions were applied: 6 hues and an achromatic
color (medium gray). The colors displayed on a LCD computer screen are showed in Table 1, along
with their RGB and HSL (hue, saturation and lightness/brightness) references. Absolute lightness
levels are also indicated. The RGB reference displays the phosphors’
intensity values (between 0 and
255) for the three primary colors red, green and blue. The second HSL norm specifies hues in
degrees (0ƒ to 360ƒ) on the chromatic wheel while saturation and lightness are expressed in
A given color can be defined by its three dimensions hue, brightness and saturation (Mounts and
Melara, 1995). The authors opted here for "natural" colors, i.e. hues that are often seen on actual
pharmaceutical packages. Thus, a strict control for color saturation levels was not implemented and
only hue and lightness levels were taken into account for results.
Choice of the drug brand name. So as to assess strictly the chromatic effect of a pharmaceutical
packaging, an unknown drug brand name was warranted to avoid any familiarity effect (Kent and
Allen, 1994). For additional reasons of intellectual property and trademark protection, we decided to
use a fictitious but credible brand name (see Perrien et alii, 1998). A preliminary approach, resorting
to an expert group (physicians, pharmacists and nurses), a documentary research [MedScape Drug
DMOZ:] and a quantitative survey
among students have allowed determining that drug brand names were often perceived or imagined
with rare consonants in the native language and with diphthongs which evoke a foreign country or
intrinsic qualities. For example, at least 66 drug brand names start with the letter Z. This latter seems
to communicate and connote a concept of efficacy (Erlich, 1995; Klink, 2003). These statements led
the authors to invent the brand name "
Zolgan" which recapitulated the various characteristics evoked
supra. Verification on official Web sites helped to ensure the inexistence of such a brand name. We
shall observe however that this fictitious brand appears realistic to the extent that a consultation at
the Drugs@FDA [] site allowed
detecting 211 brand names (plus 264 generic appellations) which contained the syllable "
Zol" and 42
brand names (plus 5 generic names) which contained the syllable "Gan". Eventually, the modified
packaging comprised the fictitious brand name (see Figure 1), an upper-right pictogram symbolizing
a capsule, a central hexagon, the active molecule "dextropropoxyphene", the mention "20 capsules"
and the corporate name of the manufacturer (Irex, a subsidiary of Synthelabo). The height of
package was diagonally halved, the left part remaining untouched (white) and the right part showing
the experimental hue.
Mood before test. Mood of participants was assessed before exposure to stimuli by the Self-
Assessment Manikin (SAM) scale, comprising pleasure, arousal and dominance 9-point sub-scales
(Morris, 1995).
Attitudes and beliefs towards prescription drugs. A specific scale
developed and validated in a
European context (submitted paper)Bwas used in this study. The ICOMED index (for Index of
COnfidence toward MEDicines) is composed of two opposed 7-item sub-scales: the first one
measures the individual’s defiance (distrust) level towards prescription drugs and the second
subscale measures the individual’s reliance (trust) level towards prescription drugs. Each item
consists in a 7-point scale.
Dependant variables
Two main variables, likely to be influenced by color, mood and general drug attitude, were measured
in this experiment: the expectancies towards the displayed drug packaging and its possible
attribution to a specific therapeutic class (resultant mood is also a dependent variable).
Drug expectancies. Ten items were successively proposed, displayed as 7-point semantic differential
scales (Osgood, Suci and Tannenbaum, 1957). Half of the scales were score-inverted. These items
comprised: medicine power (gravity of condition), drug activity duration, required precautions of
use, rapidity of action, perceived dearness (price), therapeutic efficacy, potential side effects,
prescription drug (as opposed to OTC), type of treatment (symptomatic or curative) and brand
identity ("genericness").
Attribution to therapeutic classes. Referring to previous studies about drug expectancies according to
the color of pill or capsule (see supra), we tried to confirm some relationships between specific hues
and ailments or therapeutic classes. Eight major categories were proposed to participants:
heart/blood pressure (cardiac), digestion/liver (heartburn etc.), inflammation/fever (antipyretics),
pain/migraine (analgesics), respiratory system, depression/anxiety (psychotropic/stimulant),
insomnia (hypnotics/sleep pill) and skin. Participants could make only one choice.
Measures and procedures
Experimental sessions took place with small groups composed of 2 to 4 individuals (totaling 150
participants; 53.7% female; X=19.96 years), to whom a flat 17" LCD screen was displayed at a
distance of about 1.2 meters. To avoid any discrepancy in color display, the same screen was used
for all groups. A 6-page booklet was given to each participant. In a first stag, subjects self-evaluated
their current mood with the Self-Assessment Manikin (SAM) iconic scale, composed of three 9-
scales. The experimenter then explained: "a pharmaceutical company wants to market a new drug
within a few months. Several packaging layouts have already been selected. You are going to assess
one. Look at the screen displaying the packaging while answering the following items regarding this
medicine". The packaging image was then displayed on-
screen (only one color per condition). While
looking at the packaging, participants evaluated it and rated the associated drug expectancies.
Participants would afterwards assign the package to one possible therapeutic class among eight. A
second mood evaluation was accomplished with the SAM iconic scale before subjects expressed
their beliefs towards drugs in general (ICOMED index). As a conclusion, Ishihara chromatic plates
were displayed to control for individuals’ color vision. Demographics were finally recorded.
Manipulation check
Mood. Participants’ mood significantly changed after exposure to stimulus and questionnaire items.
Further covariance analyses did not show any specific effect of mood and its dimensions on drug
attitudes and judgments. Pleasure: before 6.18, after 5.81 (p<.000); Activation: before 5.35, after
4.85 (p<.000) and dominance: before 5.72, after 5.83 (p<.000).
ICOMED index. The participants’ general attitude towards medicines was assessed by the ICOMED
index. Reliability for the defiance scale showed an alpha of .68; alpha for the reliance scale
reached .73. The overall mean score for participants was .65, knowing that the index may vary from
6 (high defiance towards drugs) to +6 (high trust towards drugs). A significant gender difference for
the defiance scale [F (1, 149)=10.67; p<.001] and the global index [F (1, 149)=4.12; p<.044) is noted
(see Table 2). Female participants trusted drugs less than male participants did.
Relations between expectancy items. Partial correlations have been calculated (i.e. controlling for
color) so as to assess the strength and direction of putative links between the 10 expectancy items.
Thus, we notice that a drug construed as designed for a benign illness will also be associated with
brief action (r=.47; p=.000; two-tailed), low risk (r=.60; p=.000), low price (r=.52; p=.000), limited
efficacy (r=.39; p=.000), limited side effects (r=.58; p=.000), OTC status (r=.40; p=.000) and
symptomatic treatment (r=.50; p=.000). Correlations with rapidity (vs. delayed) of action (r=.10) and
genericness" (r=.11) are not significant (p>.16). A further factor analysis showed that 8 items out of
10 loaded on the same factor. The rapidity of action and brand identity ("genericness") were
considered as different constructs. The remaining 8 items indicated an eigenvalue of 3.975,
explaining 49.7% of variance, with all loadings above .5. The aggregation of these 8 items
constituted a "drug potency" index, which showed a good reliability with a Cronbach alpha of .8507.
Color effects on dependent variables
Six hues were used in the experiment, along with a neutral condition (medium grey). Another
independent variable was constituted post hoc in a dual way: the stimulus brightness. Two categories
were constituted after agreement between experts: light (yellow, green, orange and grey) and dark
(red, blue and brown). This choice was validated by a metric measure of color brightness which was
taken with the help of PhotoShop 7.0 imaging software. The respective effects of hue and brightness
were analyzed for the three main dependent variables: drug expectancies (10 items), the drug
potency (8 aggregated items) and the attribution to a specific therapeutic class.
Drug expectancies. An analysis of variance showed a main effect of color hues on some drug
expectancies. Main effects of hues were significant on three expectancies: "medicine power" [gravity
of illness; F (6, 149)=2,635; p=.019], "required caution" [F (6, 149)=2,558; p=.022] and "drug
dearness" [drug price; F (6, 149)=3,210; p=.005]. Red, brown and grey packages are perceived as
designed for serious illnesses vs. yellow or green packaging. Brown, red and orange packages
require some precaution of use, compared to blue, green and yellow. Brown- and red-
packaged drugs
are perceived as more costly than orange or yellow boxes.
As far as package brightness is concerned (light vs. dark hues), significant effects were detected for
the following expectancies: "drug delayed action" [F (1, 149)=4.05; p=.046], "drug dearness" [F (1,
149)=9.49; p=.002], "side effects severity" [F (1, 149)=3.8; p=.05] and "drug curative value" [F (1,
149)=5.65; p=.019]. Dark-hued packages (red, blue and brown conditions) are considered as acting
more rapidly, more expensive, more susceptible of side effects and more curative than light-hued
packages (yellow, green, orange and grey conditions). H2 is validated.
When effects of color screen brightness (metric values) on drug expectancies were assessed by linear
regressions, it appeared that absolute screen color lightness (varying from a minimum of 0BblackB
a maximum of 255Bwhite; see Table 1) impacted significantly drug power (beta=-.171; p=.037),
drug action duration (beta=-.175; p=.033), activity delay (beta=+ .172; p=.036), drug dearness
(beta=-.23; p=.005) and curative value (beta=-.163; p=.047).
Perceived drug potency (8-item summated score). The packaging color hue had an impact on the
global perception of the drug we called potency [F (6, 149)=2.35; p=.034]. Brown and red packages
entail greater potency scores compared to green or yellow hues (see Table 3). H1 is validated.
When experimental hues were rearranged in two brightness categories, a significant positive effect of
brightness on perceived potency was also apparent [F (1, 149)=7.27; p=.008]. Brightness absolute
levels were also employed as a metric variable. A linear regression shows a significant relationship
between brightness and perceived drug potency (R2=.052; beta=-.228; p=.005).
Therapeutic class attribution. Participants had been given no particular indication regarding the
precise nature of the proposed drug. Eight therapeutic classes were proposed, knowing that only one
could be chosen. Overall, the most often chosen classes were analgesics, drugs for heart condition,
antidepressants and hepatic drugs. Chi-square tests did not reveal any specific relationship between
hues and therapeutic applications. Red is mostly attributed to the heart condition drug (32%) and
analgesics (20%). Yellow is attributed mostly to heart (23%) or dermatologic (23%) drugs. Green is
related to analgesic (25%) and hepatic (21%) medicines. The blue package is affected to an analgesic
drug (26%), while the brown one is related to a heart condition drug (33%). The neutral package
(gray) is partly attributed to an analgesic drug (25%). Regarding the attribution of light or dark
packages, one association appears significant: dark vs. light packages are related to heart condition
drugs (z=2.794; p=.005). Another relation approaches significance: light packages are more related
to antipyretics (z=-1.83; p=.06). Although non-significant, results show trends compatible with H3a
and H3b.
Given the scarcity of empirical research on pharmaceutical packaging and its growing importance in
global drug companies’ communication, and given the known visual impact of color, an exploratory
approach on drug packaging color seemed warranted and justified.
Indeed, previous works about design were mainly conceptual papes pertaining to product design as a
whole (Bloch, 1995), dealing with product form rather than packaging color per se (e.g. Underwood,
Klein and Burke, 2001). Other authors addressed the subject of which design attributes (e.g.
prototypicality, unity) influence consumers’ cognitive and affective responses (Veryzer and
Hutchinson, 1998). Specific studies on packaging color are rare (Gordon, Finlay and Watts, 1994;
Garber and Hyatt, 2003) and thus warranted, even limited to an occidental context.
The main objective of this study was to assess the presumed effect of the color of a drug packaging
on subjective evaluations pertaining to that drug. The present results indicate that packaging color
does have an effectBin a European contextBon some expectancy items related to a given drug
(strength, safety measures and price) and especially on the "potency" construct (which is composed
of the 8 specific items abovementioned) which presents a good reliability (alpha=.85). Color warmth
also seems to imply drug potency, as being comparable to a color arousing quality (Berlyne, 1960;
Jacobs and Hustmyer, 1974).
The brown and red hues appear to signify and connote gravity in a supposed treatment, with a high
potency score (respectively 38.3 and 36.8) as opposed to green and yellow hues which are more
associated to trivial or limited effects (both 31.2 for potency score). Similarly, dark tones generally
induce more potent considerations: the darker the package, the more potent the drug; this seems
compatible with previous findings on color perceptions and meanings (Osgood, Suci and
Tannenbaum, 1957; p 299-302) and color effects on emotions (Valdez and Mehrabian, 1994). This
lightness effect is corroborated by results of regressions on metric lightness values of employed
package colors. Although not always reaching significance levels, some trends regarding therapeutic
class attribution by color are similarBeven partlyBto those obtained previously (Buckalew and
Coffield, 1982a; Schapira et al., 1970). Thus, reddish hues (brown and red) are found to be
associated with heart condition drugs, while yellow is related to skin medicines (Buckalew and Ross,
1991). Nevertheless, we did not find any confirmation of white (i.e. achromatic) association with
analgesics and green/blue with sedative drugs (Buckalew and Coffield, 1982a; 1982b; Blackwell,
Bloomfield and Buncher, 1972). A gender effect also appears in our results. Women appear to
distrust medicines more than men do. Color preferences among gender were not controlled for in this
study. Yet, specific preferences might play a role, similar to those exposed by Cattaneo, Lucchelli
and Filippucci (1970; study 2), where men preferred orange (warm) capsules and women preferred
blue (cool) ones. The ICOMED index does not seem to influence the participants’ ways to evaluate
color packages. However, the relative youth (and health condition) of participants (mean age=20)
may explain an absence of mediation. We may add that ICOMED was also tested elsewhere on
adults (30-50 years old) and seniors (65 to 80) and that it presented higher reliability levels and
better fitness indices in confirmatory factor analyses. Links between medicine beliefs and health
involvement should be explored (e.g. Perrien et al., 1998). But again, it should be noted that
significant differences in ICOMED appear according to gender: female participants scored higher on
the defiance scale (p<.001) and lower on the global index (p<.05) than their male counterparts did.
Implications for future research. Some additional packaging features have not been addressed in this
experiment and some experimental extensions seem warranted. For instance, package graphics or
picture (Underwood, Klein and Burke, 2001), letter fonts and styles, cardboard texture, along with
brand name sounds (Klink, 2003; Yorkston and Menon, 2004) would deserve a further exploration.
A similar experiment is to be submitted to healthy adults and senior patients. Recurrent treatments
for chronic illnesses or ailments are likely to impact attitudes towards specific medicines and their
packaging. Also, individual characteristics such as aesthetic sensitiveness (Bloch, Bruneland Arnold,
2003) or style of processing (Childers, Houston and Heckler, 1985) should be included as
moderating variables in future studies. Another question is whether cultural color meanings impact
drug expectancies in line with packaging hues (Madden, Hewett and Roth, 2000).
Implications for business research. Pharmaceutical businesses should heed the form and color of
their new packages before marketing, be they prescribed or OTC. The impact of color on drugstores’
shelves is obvious (see for example Celebrex or Prilosec), but the likely development of blister-
packaged prescribed drugs, along with FDA compulsory notices, will also stress the growing
importance of boxes’ general outlay, either in physical outlets or on-line (189 million scripts by mail
order in 2003). The expanding R&D costs and shorter ROI periods imply a maximization of market
shares and profits during the market life of a drug; an attractive and meaningful package can then
make the difference against a more ordinary and conventional container.
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... The market for pharmaceuticals is huge. To give a sense of its size, in 2003, more than $450 billion were spent on medicines worldwide (IMS Health, 2004, as cited in Roulette & Droulers, 2005), equating to something like $700 per capita in the USA. Over the counter (OTC) medication, sold in pharmacies, groceries, and even convenience stores, is another huge and intriguing category (Insight, 2019). ...
... There has been a lot of research on the impact of the colour of medications and somewhat less on the meaning and implications of pill shape/format (e.g., Wan, Woods, Velasco, Salgado-Montejo, & Spence, 2015). The multisensory packaging of pharmaceutical packaging also constitutes an increasingly important emerging area for sensory design research (e.g., Roulette & Droulers, 2005). While most researchers have chosen to focus on the colour and other visual appearance cues, it is worth noting that the feel and even the sound (e.g., of opening and closing the packaging, or the sound associated with using the pharmaceutical product) may also play a subtle role in helping to set a consumer's, or patient's, product-related expectations (e.g., Day, 1985;Dichter, 1971;Velasco and Spence, 2019a). ...
... One of the other justifications for the choice of the most appropriate colour for medicines that have occasionally been mentioned/ documented in the literature is in terms of matching the colour of the medicine to the part of the body that is affected/relevant (e.g., Brieger et al., 2007;cf. Buckalew & Ross, 1981;Roulette & Droulers, 2005). Such examples, should they be common, might then be taken to imply that the consumers' rationalization for the use of colour may not necessarily always be the same as that of the manufacturer, thus potentially further confusing matters. ...
People’s expectations concerning the functional properties and efficacy of pharmaceuticals are influenced by a wide variety of product-extrinsic factors, such as the colour (of both product and pack), form (e.g., tablet vs. capsule), and shape (e.g., round, oval, or diamond-shaped) of medicines, and the multisensory design of the product packaging. The sound symbolic properties of a medicine’s brand name, as well as its processing fluency, have also been shown to exert a significant influence over people’s expectations. However, given that non-adherence has long been a key issues with medical treatment, further research is urgently needed in order to determine the extent (albeit likely limited) to which these various product-extrinsic factors influence non-compliance, while at the same time avoiding the confusion that has been caused by the proliferation of look-alike/sound-alike drugs in the marketplace in recent years. Further research is also needed in order to help establish the cross-cultural consensuality of the meanings that are attached by consumers to these various different product-extrinsic sensory cues (especially colour) in the pharmaceutical category, and to firmly establish the robustness of any colour-based placebo effects. At the same time, however, it is currently unclear which cue (or cues) dominate(s) when multiple product attributes are manipulated simultaneously given that the influence of colour, shape, sound symbolism, etc., have typically only been studied individually to date. The multisensory design of pharmaceuticals and their packaging therefore constitutes a particularly intriguing, not to mention important, applied area for food/sensory scientists, marketing researchers, and cognitive neuroscientists.
... Color has significant meaning and is said to affect people's cognition, emotions, and behavior [1]. Moreover, color has been shown to have various effects on consumer behavior, such as purchasing behavior [2][3], product evaluation [4][5][6][7], and brand image [8][9]. Therefore, color is used for branding in various industries. ...
... Color also affects evaluation when using products. Among pharmaceuticals, warm colors are recognized as having stronger efficacy than cold colors [4]. With regard to the effect of color on plastic cups filled with hot chocolate, orange and dark cream colored cups were reported to enhance the flavor [16]. ...
... Categorical colors simplified to apply color effectively to various visual applications (Ishida, 2002;Sagawa et al., 2003;and Lin et al., 2013) including packaging (Roullet, 2005). The categorical colors were mostly based on the theory of 11 basic color terms recommended by Berlin and Kay (1969), which were are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, brown, white, gray, and black. ...
... Thailand is one of the two countries with the major fraction of aging population (23.39 percent) (Srimalee, 2018). Declines in color vision with age can undesirably affect Elderly daily life (Ishiharaa et al, 2001) including packaging (Endestad et al., 2016 andRoullet et al., 2005). According to Ishihara et al.(2001) study, they found that some elderly people fail to discriminate between some combination of colors such as blue/green, purple/ dark red. ...
Conference Paper
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This study focused on printed color chips based on 12 categorical colors by elderly and young people under the difference in color temperature of lighting. The experimental subjects were comprised of 15 elderlies with the age of 60 – 70 years old and 30 young people with the age of 25 – 35 years. The subjects determined the printed color of 1,046 color patches and sorted them out into 12 category color boxes (Red, Red-Yellow, Yellow, Yellow-Green, Green, Green-Blue, Blue, Blue- Purple, Purple, Purple-Red, Pink and Brown). In case of no decision on color patch into the 12 color boxes, the patch was put into “Out” box. The viewing conditions were LED lamp with 2 correlated color temperatures (CCTs) of 6500 and 2700 K, with illuminance of 700 lux, and 0/45 degree observer. CIELAB, CIELCH color space of color patches, and color difference from reference color were evaluated and MANOVA was also applied in terms of statistical analysis. In addition, the 12 categorical colors perceived by the two groups were evaluated by using color difference (ΔEab and ΔE00). The results revealed that the categorical colors affected on CIE L*a*b* significantly whereas group age and lighting condition had no significant difference. In addition, the categorical colors of elderly under 2700 K presented remarkable color difference compared to elderly under 6500 K, young under 6500 K and 2700 K. The findings suggested that the interaction between color categories and different groups of aging people and also using color design under different lighting condition should be considered.
... We thus combine an industrial perspective with a consumer perspective to increase the understanding of eco-design packaging. Most previous work has investigated the effects of attributes such as size, color [43,80], shape [44], or a combination of two attributes (e.g., size and volume) [45,81,82] on consumers' behaviors. In contrast, this study focuses upon consumers' overall perception of eco-design packaging and the influence of the role of the attributes of this packaging on the decision-making process through an analysis of cognitive chains. ...
... The latter is defined as the sensations produced mainly by the materials, colors, shapes, and sizes of packaging [95]. Consumers' perceptions of colors appear to affect the image of the product and the brand [96], their purchasing intention [96], and their attitudes towards the product [80]. Our results show that green or transparent packaging influences emotions, induces feelings of nature and calm, and signals more ecological packaging and healthier food products. ...
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Drawing on the means–end chain method, this exploratory study attempts to provide a better understanding of consumers’ perceived risks towards eco-design packaging and its effects on consumers’ purchasing decisions. This study makes divers contributions in terms of theory, methodology, and policy making. Firstly, this study provides better comprehension for the concept of “eco-design packaging” by combining an industrial perspective (i.e., a life-cycle assessment: LCA) with a consumer perspective (i.e., consumer perceptions). The findings reveal the gap between consumers’ perceptions and the LCA results towards eco-design packaging. Secondly, this study offers an alternative perspective on consumers’ reactions towards eco-design packaging through exploring the “risks” instead of “benefits” examined to inspire package innovation. This study identified five perceived risks (functional, physical, financial, life-standard, and socio-environmental risks). Thirdly, this study illustrates the benefit of using the means–end chain analysis (MEC) framework to explore consumers’ reactions and purchasing behaviors towards sustainable products. Lastly, this study offers several actionable suggestions to managers, packaging designers, and policy makers.
... Its inuence may exceed the objective content of the product. Among pharmaceuticals, warm colors are recognized as having stronger ecacy than cold colors [31]. Considering the eect of color on plastic cups lled with hot chocolate, orange and dark cream-colored cups are reported to enhance the avor [32]. ...
... To examine how packaging impacts in-store consumer behavior, some researchers have focused on packaging design, adopting either a holistic approach that considers the package as a whole (Orth and Malkewitz, 2008), or an analytic approach that examines the influence of one (or sometimes many) attributes of the packaging in question (Pinto and Droulers, 2010). In the latter approach, the influence of shape (e.g., Raghubir and Krishna, 1999;Krider et al., 2001), size (e.g., Folkes et al., 1993;Wansink, 1996), texture (Spence and Gallace, 2011;Zampini et al., 2006), and color (e.g., Garber and Hyatt, 2003;Pelet et al., 2020;Roullet and Droulers, 2005), for example, have been taken into consideration. Other researchers have investigated the placement of products, arguing that there is an optimal shelf location and a positive relationship between the number of facings and consumer responsiveness (Atalay et al., 2012;Chandon et al., 2009). ...
Visual packaging elements play a crucial role in influencing consumer behavior in stores. Front of pack (FOP) formats frequently present images of the product in motion (i.e., implied motion), especially in food categories. Despite the popularity of implied motion in real-world business, little research has been done to understand its effect on consumer behavior. To fill this gap, the present study adopts an evolutionary lens to investigate the impact of implied motion as a packaging design technique on consumers’ attention, product evaluation, purchase intention and choice. We carried out two experiments using realistic milk and orange juice packaging. Specifically, Experiment 1 was conducted in a lab using an eye tracking method to provide an objective measure of attention. The findings show that implied motion significantly increases visual attention and consequently generates more frequent choices. Using an online experimental design and declarative measures, Experiment 2 indicates that implied motion also enhances freshness, which translates into greater tastiness, product attractiveness and, ultimately, purchase intention. The study provides marketers with an inexpensive yet efficient way to enhance in-store marketing performance by incorporating implied motion into the FOP design.
... Most marketing articles that mention categorybased visual codes refer mainly to colour codes (Divard and Urien, 2001;Garber et al., 2008;Roullet and Droulers, 2005). However, other articles that make no mention of this notion identify recurring patterns that are not limited to colours. ...
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This research investigates the introduction of innovative designs through content and semiotic analyses of the visual codes of two wine regions: one known to be traditional (Bordeaux) and the other to be innovative (Barossa Valley). The content analysis indicates that the Australian wines differentiate themselves by choosing various themes and styles of illustration, while still conforming to the dominant visual codes for the layout, composition, typefaces and colours. Furthermore, the semiotic analysis shows that the themes and styles of illustration introduced in the Barossa category carry 'signifieds' that are relevant to the product category. Thus, the results indicate that the Barossa wineries fulfil two conditions suggested by the literature: moderate novelty and 'ideal incongruence' (unexpected but relevant). More importantly, by analysing the meanings of the visual codes used in the two wine regions, this work decodes the elements of graphic design language for the wine category, thus elucidating how it is possible to create a wine label that is unexpected but relevant. Finally, the research allows the identification of four main strategies for brand positioning and indicates how to express them through label graphic design.
... Integrating patient photos and QR codes into one transparency also allows hospitals to print the information on the medicine bags faster, which is very helpful for large hospitals in Asia with a large number of patients. In addition, according to the hospital research, drug packaging has become a visual communication tool, and the color and artistic design of the appearance of the medicine bag will affect the patient's perception of the medicine [42]. e scheme proposed herein can integrate patient photos and QR codes into a transparency, which can reduce interference with the artistic design of medicine packaging and improve the safety of patient medication. ...
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In health care, medication errors can result in serious health risks to patients, and hospitals require a secure medication administration system to prevent such errors. This paper therefore proposes a secure medication administration method based on threshold sharing technology. When a patient visits a doctor and the doctor prescribes n medications, a photo and the personal information of the patient are encoded into n QR code transparencies that can be decoded by common QR code scanners available for smartphones. The prescription and n QR code transparencies are then stored in a hospital’s medication administration system. When the patient receives their medicine, they can scan these n QR code transparencies using a smartphone to ensure that they have all the medicines prescribed by the doctor; this function is accessible even if the patient’s phone does not have Internet access. The main purpose of the proposed system is to prevent hospitals from giving medicine to the wrong patient, or giving less than the prescribed dosage of medicine to the patient. The focus is not on the internal medicine packaging process in hospitals but on reducing the probability of counter staff giving medicine to the wrong patient. This function is of considerable importance to non-English-speaking people who are not used to reading medicine names in English.
The physical appearance of pills, especially their color, affect expectations of their efficacy in addition to their intended medicinal effect. The purpose of this study is to understand the effects pill colors have on a wide variety of people, testing the hypotheses that the color of the pill affects participants' expectation of the drug's efficacy, and that demographics play a role in the participant's judgement. The 339 participants were recruited from the Rochester Institute of Technology global campuses in Rochester, USA, and Dubai, UAE. The study did not involve individuals taking drugs. Instead, it measured how people perceived the expected effects of pills on six efficacies, by asking the participants to rate the expected efficacy of five colors of pills. While there were some clear patterns and similarities in the results, differences were also apparent across the various demographics considered in this study. It is evident that three out of the six efficacies tested had a strong association with a particular color: stimulant efficacy with red, pain relief with white, and antacid with yellow. Remaining efficacies had weaker associations or varied associations based on different demographics. The patterns that emerged will help pharmaceutical companies, as well as medical practitioners, to better manufacture and prescribe drugs, thus maximizing the effects of the pills on patients overall, and increasing their compliance rates. The plot shows how participants perceived and ranked the expected effects of five‐colored pills on the six efficacies tested based on mean ranks. Gray shaded ellipses enclose groups of colors between which no significant difference was found.
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Color has long been considered important by both the manufacturing industry and academia because it affects people’s perceptions, emotions, and behaviors. However, the evaluation of purchasing behavior until now has mainly been only in an experimental environment, and there have been concerns that differed from the actual consumer behavior. Therefore, the causal effect of the strong impression of a manufacturer’s brand color on the purchase behavior in the Japanese automobile industry was verified. Covariate was homogenized by propensity score matching based on the online survey, and the causal effect on purchase intention was extracted. As a result, the impression of the brand color had a positive effect on the purchase intention. This effect was estimated to be 5.739 in odds ratio. Commercial brands, logos, emblems, car body colors, dealers, showrooms, and even professional baseball teams were found to be factors that foster brand color.
Hue, saturation, and brightness were tested in pairs, with one dimension creating a classification context and the other serving as the basis of a set of speeded classification tasks. In Experiment 1, performance suffered when the context-setting dimension varied within a response category (intraclass context) and benefited when this variation occurred between response categories (redundant context). In Experiment 2, participants showed no interference from irrelevant variation in tasks that combined intraclass context with redundant context. Experiment 3 opened the interpretative window by varying 5 levels of intraclass context factorially with 5 levels of redundant context. The dimensions were found to differ in hardness—the degree of resistance to intraclass context across levels—with hue showing the greatest resistance and brightness the least. Hardness may reflect the efficacy of a dimension for distinguishing real-world categories.
The physical form or design of a product is an unquestioned determinant of its marketplace success. A good design attracts consumers to a product, communicates to them, and adds value to the product by increasing the quality of the usage experiences associated with it. Nevertheless, the topic of product design is rarely, if ever, encountered in marketing journals. To bring needed attention to the subject of product design and enable researchers to better investigate design issues, the author introduces a conceptual model and several propositions that describe how the form of a product relates to consumers’ psychological and behavioral responses. After presenting this model, the author describes numerous strategic implications and research directions.
Eighty-five percent of solid drugs in Europe are packed in blisters, compared with less than 20% of those in the United States. However, blister packaging is becoming more accepted in the United States as both manufacturers and consumers recognize its benefits. This article discusses the materials used for blister packages and typical blister constructions.
Little academic research has been directed to developing new brand names. While guidelines for creating effective new brand names have been proposed (e.g. the name should be distinctive, easy to pronounce, meaningful, etc), results of following such prescriptions are largely unknown. The purpose of this study is to examine customer response to products introduced with “meaningful” new brand names. Specifically, this research proposes and empirically tests two methods for creating meaningful new brand names. Results of the study indicate that products with brand names using sound symbolism to convey product-related information are liked better by consumers and positioned more strongly in their minds. Supplementing sound symbolism imbeds with semantic imbeds in a brand name further enhances both product liking and positioning.
Color data from the Osgood et al. 23-culture semantic differential study of affective meanings reveal cross-cultural similarities in feelings about colors. The concept RED is affectively quite salient. BLACK and GREY are bad, and WHITE, BLUE, and GREEN are good. YELLOW, WHITE, and GREY are weak; RED and BLACK are strong. BLACK and GREY are passive; RED is active. The color component Brightness, as determined by comparing data on WHITE, GREY, and BLACK, is strongly associated with positive Evaluation, but also with negative Potency. Eighty-nine previous studies of color and affect were analyzed. They generally support these findings, and, together with the fact that there are very few exceptions in our data or the literature, lead one to believe that there are strong universal trends in the attribution of affect in the color domain.
This paper presents a novel method for assessing cognitive representations of medication: the Beliefs about Medicines Questionnaire (BMQ). The BMQ comprises two sections: the BMQ-Specific which assesses representations of medication prescribed for personal use and the BMQ-General which assesses beliefs about medicines in general. The pool of test items was derived from themes identified in published studies and from interviews with chronically ill patients. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of the test items resulted in a logically coherent, 18 item, 4-factor structure which was stable across various illness groups. The BMQ-Specific comprises two 5-item factors assessing beliefs about the necessity of prescribed medication (Specific-Necessity) and concerns about prescribed medication based on beliefs about the danger of dependence and long-term toxicity and the disruptive effects of medication (Specific-Concerns). The BMQ-General comprises two 4-item factors assessing beliefs that medicines are harmful, addictive, poisons which should not be taken continuously (General-Horn) and that medicines are overused by doctors (General-Overuse). The two sections of the BMQ can be used in combination or separately. The paper describes the development of the BMQ scales and presents data supporting their reliability and their criterion-related and discriminant validity.