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Title: Packaging as a marketing tool : adolescents' perceptions of branded and plain tobacco packaging
Author: Ford, Allison
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 2079
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2014
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Plain packaging first appeared on the UK policy agenda in the Department of Health’s 2008 ‘Consultation on the Future of Tobacco Control’. Since then, plain (or standardised) packaging has been framed through the potential benefit to young people. Within the period of this thesis, plain packaging has been actively debated and draft plain packaging regulations were published in June 2014. An extended literature review of academic and practitioner marketing literature, internal tobacco company documents and public health packaging research, establishes that the research informing the policy debate, while consistent in its approach and findings, fails to recognise the strategic nature of pack design, the full extent of the influence that branded design can have on consumer responses, and the importance of product design as a marketing tool. This thesis attempts to address these gaps in the plain packaging evidence base. It explores if, and how, adolescents engage with different styles of packaging and product design, whether or not an association between tobacco packaging and adolescent smoking exists, and whether it is possible to observe cognitive, affective and behavioural responses to packaging. The study uses a sequential exploratory mixed methodology design with two stages of research. First, focus groups were conducted with 15 year olds (n=48) to explore adolescent responses to tobacco packaging and product design. The findings show that adolescents are most appreciative of ‘novelty’ pack designs. These ‘novelty’ packs, for instance with innovative structures or distinctive designs and colours, generated positive user imagery and influenced affective feelings among participants. Cigarettes with slim diameters, white tips and decorative designs increased appeal and communicated a weaker tasting and less harmful product. Conversely, a plain pack eliminated positive perceptions and feelings, and exposed tobacco as harmful, dirty and not for young people. The qualitative findings were used to develop measures and hypotheses which were tested in a quantitative survey. The second stage of research utilised a cross-sectional in-home survey (n=1373) with 11 to 16 year olds. Respondents were asked to rate three different pack styles - ‘novelty’, ‘regular’ and ‘plain’ - on 11 pack ratings items and four pack feelings items. The findings show adolescents hold ‘novelty’ packaging in higher regard than ‘regular’ packaging across pack ratings items. There were fewer differences between ‘novelty’ and ‘regular’ packaging for the pack feelings items. Plain packaging was consistently rated most negatively across all survey items. Logistic regressions, controlling for factors known to influence youth smoking, showed that susceptibility to smoke was associated with positive appraisal and also receptivity for ‘novelty’ packaging. There was no association with pack appraisal or receptivity for the plain pack. While susceptibility is not a direct behavioural response it is a reasonable predictor of future tobacco use. Collectively the findings show that ‘novelty’ packaging and product design holds greatest appeal for adolescents. Plain packaging limits the opportunity for tobacco companies to communicate with, mislead and influence consumers. Based upon the role of packaging for consumer goods in general, and tobacco in particular, plain packaging would effectively reduce the promotional role of packaging.
Supervisor: Moodie, Crawford; Hastings, Gerard; MacKintosh, Anne Marie Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Tobacco Marketing ; Tobacco industry ; Cigarettes Packaging ; Tobacco package labels