Let’s face it: as consumers, we’re not that good at judging the volume of a product (eg, how much liquid is actually in that bottle or glass of juice). Moreover, we use (sometimes erroneous) mental shortcuts to make inferences about how much a given product contains.

For example, a well-documented finding has shown that products packaged in long, tall containers are judged to contain more volume than those with equivalent amounts of product packaged in shorter containers. And now, there’s new research that shows yet another factor affecting consumer perceptions of volume: how attention-getting the package is.

It seems that unusual or unexpected packages command attention—and lead consumers to estimate that the product has more volume than a similar amount of product packaged in a less attention-getting, more run-of-the-mill package.

Interestingly, this effect was observed even when the plainer package was actually longer than the fancy one. People still felt the fancy package held more.

The message for marketers? If you’re thinking about downsizing a product’s contents, make sure you fancy-up that packaging!

The Po!nt: Time to play dress-up! If you want consumers to think your package contains a larger volume of product, try creating a bold, unusual design for it.

Source: The Effect of Package Shape on Consumers’ Judgments of Product Volume: Attention as a Mental Contaminant, Valerie Folkes and Shashi Matta. Journal of Consumer Research, 2004.

Cheers, Skip