Academic journal article Competition Forum

Effects of Branding on Taste Perceptions

Academic journal article Competition Forum

Effects of Branding on Taste Perceptions

Article excerpt


In many studies, brands have proven to be the most influential factor of a product when it comes to the consumer decision making process. For various reasons, many consumers still perceive store brands to be inferior to manufacturer brands; however, perceptions of store brands have increased significantly over the past two decades. The researchers' objective was to determine how influential the brand and product packaging (extrinsic cues) were in subjects' evaluation of intrinsic product attributes (taste, texture, appearance, and quality). In general, the results indicate that brand name and product packaging cannot disguise the contents therein.

Keywords: Manufacturer brands vs. private brands, Taste test, Taste perceptions, Packaging influence


A brand is a product, service, or concept that is publicly distinguished from other products, services, or concepts so that it can be easily communicated and usually marketed. A brand may also be described as the intangible sum of a product's attributes including but limited to its name, packaging, price, history, reputation, and the way it's advertised (Parcanschi, 2008). In consumer marketing, brands often provide the primary points of differentiation between one or more similar products (De Wulf et al., 2005). The two primary types of brands are manufacturer and store. Manufacturer brands are usually owned and promoted by large manufacturers (Lamb, Hair, & McDaniel, 2010). Store brand are products owned and branded by organizations whose primary economic obligation is distribution rather than manufacturing. Store brands are promoted by wholesalers, retailers, or merchants under their own name and are in competition with manufacturer brand goods (Richardson, Dick, & Jain, 1994).

Once thought to be inferior, consumers' perceptions of store brands have changed as indicated by their increasing market share on manufacturer brands. According to the Private Label Manufacturers Association "store brands now account for one of every five items sold in the U.S." and "represent more than $83 billion of current business at retail" (PLMA, 2009). Furthermore, the PLMA reports that seven of every ten shoppers believe that "private label products are as good if not better, than their national brand counterparts" based on a national study by Ipsos-MORI (PLMA, 2009). With the increased popularity of store brands and consumers' perceptions of quality, the researchers set out to investigate how influential the brand (manufacturer versus store) is on consumers' perceptions of the quality. The researchers conducted an experiment where subjects were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups to determine how influential the brand, specifically the brand name and packaging, is on consumer's taste perceptions.


Studies indicate that compared with manufacturer brands, store label brands suffer from a low quality image. The problem is that some consumers use the product position and price as a cue to quality (Richardson et al., 1994). The Private Label Manufacturers Association (PMLA) believes that the unfavorable perceptions of store labeled brands are due to the poor appearance of the package and the lack of an attractive brand image. The PLMA says that this is due to the positioning strategies and poor communication and that a stronger focus on quality instead of price could produce a more favorable perception to store brands (Richardson et al., 1994). According to Quelch and Harding (1996), manufacturer brand names exist because consumers still count on an assurance of quality when they do not have the time, opportunity, or ability to scrutinize alternatives at the point of purchase. In simpler terms, manufacturer brand names help to make the selection process easier when the product category is cluttered (Quelch & Harding, 1996).

The majority of today's consumers ignore the stigma of store label products. …

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