English   Danish

2017/2018  KAN-CIBCV1509U  Catchy and fair: Consumer communication through packaging design

English Title
Catchy and fair: Consumer communication through packaging design

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn, Spring
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Min. participants 20
Max. participants 45
Study board
Study Board for Master of Arts (MA) in International Business Communication in English
Course coordinator
  • Viktor Smith - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Communication
  • Marketing
Last updated on 20-02-2017

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Formulate a set of concise research questions in relation to a self-chosen case that demonstrates concrete and essential challenges in terms of ensuring well-functioning but fair consumer communication via packaging design.
  • Use central concepts and methods presented during the course for analysing the chosen case while considering commercial, communicative, and legal aspects.
  • Formulate and motivate concrete suggestions for improving the communicative potential of the product packages at issue in the case.
Course prerequisites
The elective is open to students from all Master Programmes at CBS.
It may be particularly relevant for students specializing within and across the fields of International Business Commmunication, Marketing, and Law.
Cross-disciplinary synergies and teambuilding across academic orientations are an integrated part of the course.
Prerequisites for registering for the exam
Number of mandatory activities: 2
Compulsory assignments (assessed approved/not approved)
3-4 mandatory multiple choice tests. which will be subject to peer evaluation and subsequent oral feedback from the teacher in class.

Requirements about active class participation (assessed approved/not approved)
Catchy and fair: Consumer communication through packaging design:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Group exam
Please note the rules in the Programme Regulations about identification of individual contributions.
Number of people in the group 3-4
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Max. 5 normalsider pr. studerende (eksklusive bilag).
Assignment type Project
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter and Summer
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Individual home assignment, max. 8 pages. Otherwise same examination form as the ordinary exam.
Description of the exam procedure

During the course, you will identify a case of your own interest which you will use for the exam project.The case must be approved by the teacher. In relation to this you will use literature relevant to the course and the chosen topic.In group projects, the contributions of the each group member must be clearly identifiable.

Course content and structure

On a still more diversified retail market, consumers are increasingly left to base their purchase decisions on what the product “says” about itself through words, texts, and images on the packaging rather than on exact knowledge of the product inside. Up to 80% of our daily purchase decisions are made in-store and take us a few seconds on average. This increases the risk that consumers will feel misled by what the packaging “told” in the purchase situation when later comparing it to the product inside or to information gained from other sources or elsewhere on the same package – e.g. when reading “0,4% dried avocado powder” on the back of a product that presents itself as guacamole dip. Assessing the mechanisms behind consumers' decoding of the "cocktail" of verbal and visual stimuli on product packages concerns and combines a number of disciplines such as business law, marketing, design and the cognitive  sciences.
The course builds on ongoing cross-disciplinary research at CBS and will provide the participants with key insights into essential dimensions of the overall subject, a metalanguage in which these can be described and analysed, and hands-on tools for assessing the fairness or potential misleadingness of individual product naming and labelling solutions.The primary focus is on markets within the EU but selected  non-EU marekts will be considered as well, addressing also cross-cultural and legal aspects. A major source of illustration will be commercial food products due to their prominent role both in research and in daily life, but non-food products will be considered as well.

Main elements of the course are:
1. The potetntial of various design features to influence consumer beliefts and decision-making viewed from a fairness perspective.
2. The legal conception(s) of misleading commercial practices and its operationalization. Can "likeliness to mislead" be measured?
3. The semiotic cocktail of product labels. Verbal versus non-verbal design elements, labels, and brands.
5. Consumer and specialist knowledge clashing on the front of package.
6. Semantic potential versus visual attention. What does the consumer look for and what does (s)he make of what (s)he sees?
7. Case-based group work   
8. Test of alternative design solutions across groups.


The objectives of the course are to enable the students to understand, reflect on and apply techniques of fair product-to-consumer communication, minimising the risks of misleading the wide variety of consumer profiles. The perspective is both national and cross-national, combining considerations on company reputation and CSR with a competitiveness perspectives. To achieve this, cross-disciplinary methods will be used, and problems will be analysed from the consumers’ as well as the authorities’ and the industry's perspectives.

Teaching methods
Teaching methods will include lectures, discussions, student group presentations, hands-on project work, home assignments, and multiple choice tests.
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback will be given to the students throughout the course, in particuler in connection with the group presentations and multiple choice tests.
Student workload
Preparation (text reading, preparing case work and group presentations) 65 hours
Teaching (lectures, workshops, case presentations, discussions). 65 hours
Exam 76 hours
Expected literature
  • Marianne R. Klimchuk, Sandra A. Krasovec  (2012). Packaging Design: Successful Product Branding from Concept to Shelf. Somerset, NJ: Wiley
  • Frewer, L. & van Trijp, H.,eds., Understanding consumers of food products.  Cambridge: Woodhead Publishing..
  • Assessing in-store food-to-consumer communication from a fairness perspective: An integrated approach.Smith, V., Clement, J, Møgelvang-Hansen, P., & Selsøe Sørensen, H. 2011.  Fachsprache – International Journal of Specialized Communication, 33(1-2), 84-106.
  • Directive 2005/29/EC. Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market.
  • Food Standards Agency. 2007. Review and analysis of current literature on consumer understanding of nutrition and health claims made on food. Food Standards Agency/FSA.
  • Spin versus fair speak in food labelling. A matter of taste? Smith,V., P. Møgelvang-Hansen, and G. Hyldig. 2010. Food Quality and Preference 21: 1016-1025.
  • Selected supplementary material: journal articles, practical guidelines, websites.
Last updated on 20-02-2017