Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the influence of different spatial representations (foreground and background) of a product image on the package on the consumer emotional state and intention to buy the product, drawing upon the construal level theory (CLT). Design/methodology/approach – Two between-subjects experimental designs were conducted. A face-reading software was used to measure the emotional reactions of participants while watching the stimuli. Findings – Empirical results showed that the foreground representation of the product, triggered by a lower perceived psychological distance between the subject and the product, generates more positive emotional responses compared to the background representation. However, the purchase intention did not significantly differ between the foreground condition and the background condition. Research limitations/implications – The study enriches the literature on CLT and provides some guidance to manufacturers and product managers for the understanding of the role of packaging in influencing consumer behaviour. Originality/value – The paper contributes to the research on the presence of the product imagery on the package. The focus is shifted from the presence/absence of the picture to its position (proximal or distal). This aspect has been neglected in previous studies. Moreover, it is the first application of face reading to support CLT basic assumption and enrich extant marketing research on packaging.
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