Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Packaging Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Andrew Hurley

Committee Member

Dr. William Bridges

Committee Member

Dr. Michelle Parisi


Companies face the challenge of determining the return on investment of premium paper packaging features, such as substrate thickness and finishing options. If companies can better understand how consumers perceive “premium,” they could channel their focus on specific design elements and maximize their returns (Dwivedi & Nayeem, 2018). Touch is a critical factor in driving consumer behavior and purchase decisions and influencing trust between brands and consumers (Krishna et al. 2017). While previous studies have explored the impact of design elements like size, shape, color, and font on consumer behavior, this research investigates the influence of touch, substrate, print finishes (foil, emboss, and gloss), unboxing experiences of direct mail, and consumer packaged goods. The study employed three unique in-person environments, which collected participant data through eye-tracking, facial expressions analysis, touch coding, and surveys across various consumer activities.

Results indicate that premium packaging generates higher engagement and positive responses from consumers in retail and at-home settings. Foil finish outperforms in the retail environment for unfamiliar CBD serum (P < 0.0001). Touch is shown to be a better predictor of sales than visual attention across multiple packaging finishes, including foil (P = 0.002), glossy (P = 0.006), embossed (P = 0.007), and no finish (P = 0.028). All participant touches were identified and coded, revealing four unique touch actions (feel, pick up, compare, put in cart).

Premium paperboard packaging evokes more positive facial expressions in consumer electronics unboxing and more interaction with direct mail. Notably, prominently displaying discount codes increases consumer engagement. Direct mail results reveal that circular mail was widely perceived as recyclable, tri-folds were retained the most, while postcards were more likely to be discarded. These findings have practical implications for businesses, enabling them to optimize packaging strategies, drive consumer engagement, and promote environmentally friendly practices.



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