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The Impact of Packaging on Consumers’ Purchase DecisionImpact of Parents/Families of First Generation Students on the College Going Process

Chapter 1. Theoretical framework

The hereinafter chapter represents the first chapter of this research paper and it depicts the impact of packaging on consumer behaviour, from a theoretical point of view. First of all, the chapter starts with an introduction to consumer behaviour as a science, then it

do not necessarily reflect the views of

Parents Just Don’t Understand:  Literature Review Considering the Impact of Parents/Families of First Generation Students on the College Going Process and their Transitions Within College

Students and their ability to access higher education and a college degree is defined and formed by a number of factors, namely the student’s academic achievement, family background, and the culture and academic environment of the student’s secondary school experience (Perna, 2006).  The process of going to college is a much different paradigm for students that are first generation college students than those that are of the continuing generation to attend college.  Students that identify as first generation college students, or FGEN, think about going to college much later in the process than compared to those who have parents that earned a four-year college degree (McDonough, 1997).  While a number of varied definitions exist nationally, for the purposes of the literature review, by definition from the U.S. Department of Education (2018) FGEN college students are those students whose parents or guardians have not earned a four-year bachelor’s degree, but may have some postsecondary college experience (Redford, 2018).  These students have been identified and defined as “first generation” or “FGEN” due to the fact that each student is unable to benefit from the experiences of college-education parents by an exchange and sharing of information and goal setting (Horn and Nunez, 2000).  In addition, students that are defined as first generation are disadvantaged in understanding what skills, attitudes, and abilities are necessary to successfully navigate the college experience, and consequently have the ability to transition into college and persist with a four-year college degree (Horn and Nunez, 2000).   If FGEN students are entering college, and ultimately participating in their own college experience with a notable disadvantages, this is problematic.  If our system of higher education is encouraging them to enter college, and ultimately be successful in college, it is critical that FGEN students have an equal understanding of what skills, attitudes and abilities are needed for success.  Without possessing these skills, FGEN students are at greater risk to enter college and, importantly, earn a four-year college degree.

Current literature suggests that the connection between family background and cultural factors that may exist plays a vital role for students as they matriculate to a four-year college, and ultimately seek success within the higher education system (Braxton, 2000). It is common that students that come from first generation home environments are also disadvantaged as a result of the lack of support and encouragement that they receive to seek educational and professional goals that are not cultivated and manifested in their homes (McDonough, 1997).    The degree to which members of the family are educated, social status, socio-economic status (SES), and student academic ability are reliable indicators of students’ potential to succeed in entering college successfully, and ultimately, lead to further achievement while in the university environment (Braxton, 2000). This, the research suggests that family background and home life, including SES and parents education, influence first generation student success.

Parental encouragement has been shown to positively relate to student academic involvement and is an aspect that influences student educational aspirations (Astin, 1993; Braxton, 2000). While one may understand that expectations about college play a role in a student’s motivation and commitment to succeed, factors associated with expectations are typically embedded and entrenched in students prior to their matriculation to college.  Tinto (1993) offers that the stronger the link between the goal of college completion and other valued goals (professional employment, social mobility, and affiliation), the greater the chance for a student to attend and complete college.  Typically, this commitment manifests itself in two notable ways: goal commitment (a student’s commitment to personal and educational goals prior to and during college) and a student’s commitment to being successful once in college (a willingness to work toward and within the goals of the institution) (Tinto, 1993).

McDonough (1997) notes in her work that these networks of support create what are termed individual biographies, which are similar in nature to predisposition factors that impact the college going experience.  Family, friends, and school networks of support significantly impact the decision of each student to attend and remain successful in the college and university environment (McDonough 1997).  It is these individual biographies that not only impact a student’s ability in choosing a school, but equally as important the ability for the student to remain in school until their degree is completed (Acker-Ball 2007).  FGEN college students, in turn, are very active in their choosing to stay at their higher institution of learning, or to opt to leave (Lopez-Turley, 2006).  Given the variety of unique factors that first generation students possess given that they are the first in their family to attend college, it is not simply a matter for this student population to matriculate from one semester to another; they must regularly examine their options (cost benefit, aspirations, etc.) and formulate a plan as to how they will continue through college.  Much of the research on student aspirations has really focus on what students are doing, or encountering, that is leading to them ultimately leaving the college environment (Ishitani, 2006; Adelman, 1999; Padilla 1997).  However, research has also been conducted to determine what can be done to enhance first generation student persistence and, ultimately, a first generation student earning a four-year college degree (Ishitani, 2006; Adelman, 1999; Padilla 1997)

The parent and family units play a significant role for the student as each seeks to potentially pursue, enroll, and graduate with a four-year college degree.  Factors that contribute to a student’s educational aspirations and ability to persist are often determined and influenced by the home environment.  (Acker-Ball, 2007).  The knowledge, skills, and dispositions that students learn prior to the college admissions process influences student behavior, attitudes, and aspirations.  However, a significant gap exists for a first generation student in this process.  If the parent and family unit is void of college experience themselves, how does this void serve to impact first generation college students and the guidance and necessary support that is needed?  The purpose of this study is to understand and discover the impact of parents and families of first generation students on the college going process (CGP).  In reviewing the current literature, the purpose of this study will be to examine and understand the impacts and correlations that may exist between first generation parents and families, and how their lack of college experience potentially hinders their son or daughter as they seek to enter college.   In short, the literature and research offers that FGEN parents and families’ lack of college experience negatively impacts the FGEN student experience.  In addition, student self-perception is negatively impacted by the noted lack of supports by FGEN parents and families.  Next, this review of literature will examine this perceived gap between first generation students and their parents that have not earned a college degree and identify how this phenomenon might impact and play a role on the first generation student as they transition into college, and their overall college-going experience.  Understanding how parents and families might impact first generation student experiences matriculating to and persisting college may inform and identify potential best practices, areas of further study, or interventions that might be possible to further serve as a bridge of support between students and parents/families.  It is important to note that research on first generation students, and the first generation student experience, is still developing.  Many studies have become more prevalent only in the last 10 years.  Studies from Tinto (1993) and Astin (1993), among others noted in this study, provide foundational research on this connection between connection between FGEN parents’ lack of college experience and its negative impact on the student experience.  All previous research is fundamental in developing a theoretical framework from which further research has evolved to its current state.

First Generation Students and Families: Overview, Perspectives, and Characteristics of Both Groups.

With reference to first generation students, the terms “parents and families” are used interchangeably throughout the current literature that is offered concerning how first generation student are supported.  However, it is important to clarify that more often than not, it may not be the specific mother or father that is supporting first generation students.  In reality, this support could be a guardian, another family member, or perhaps older siblings. For the purposes of this review, parents and families will be understood to include all those in relation to the first generation student what could potentially exist in the established direct family unit of support.

It is important to acknowledge that students that identify as first generation have different characteristics than their continuing-generation peers (Acker-Ball, 2007).  Research shows that they enroll in less rigorous high school curricula and are less prepared for college (Horn & Nunez 2000).  Because first generation students are ill prepared for college, they often have lower degree aspirations and they tend to be less focused on attaining a college education and identifying career choices (Nunez & Cuccaro-Alamin, 1998).  If first generation students do enroll in college, they persist and complete four-year college degrees at lower rates than their continuing second and third-generation peers (Nunez et al., 1998).  These distinctive characteristics set first generation students apart from their peers whose parents completed a college degree (Wharbuton, Bugarin, and Nunez, 2001).

In addition, first generation students are more likely to come from low SES homes (Acker-Ball, 2007).  Because first generation students often must financially contribute to the expenses of the home, as well as contribute to their educational expenses, many first generation students work while matriculating to college and relay more heavily to finance their education (Sewell, 1971; Warbuton et al., 2001.; Nunez et al., 2001).  Further discussion and review of literature will discuss the implications that finances play and the connection to first generation support and success.  Additional characteristics of first generation students that differ from their continuing-generation peers are that they are often non-traditional students (in age), less likely to be white, non-Hispanic, and more likely to be female (Hsiaso, 1992; Thayer 2000).

Theory and Research: College Going Process (CGP) and Educational Expectations Impacted by Parents/Families of FGEN Students

When considering the current literature, much research exists that suggest and alludes to the significant role that parents and families play in promoting students’ college going (Auerbach, 2004).  In reality, few families without a tradition of college going have sufficient knowledge of how to help their children navigate pathways to college (Auerbach, 2004).  Auerbach, (2004) notes in her research that according to the Latino Eligibility Study, the single most important barrier to college access is the lack of instrumental knowledge of the steps need to go to college (Gandara, 1995).  In addition, across the various social groups, parents are cited as one of the top three sources of college information and help for students, yet most parents hold inaccurate beliefs about crucial information about the CGP (Antonio, 2002; Post, 1990).  In one example, in a nationally representative survey of Latino parents of high school students, more than two thirds lacked basic information about college eligibility and planning (Tornatsky, Cutler, & Lee 2002).  The research further shows that the information gap is wide for lower SES immigrant parents who are ESL, and have specialized needs with issues regarding financial aid, undocumented status, and college life (McClafferty, McDonough, & Fann 2001).

Impact of parent and family on first generation student attitudes in CGP. Byrd and Macdonald (2005) offer that the parents and families of first generation students can serve as both motivators as well as demotivators for their students to matriculate to college and earn a four-year college degree.  In their 2005 study, Byrd and Macdonald conducted a qualitative methods study seeking to define student voices and deepen understanding and improve practice within higher education.  They surveyed eight participants (n=8) participants from an upper-division, undergraduate liberal arts program of a small urban university located in the Pacific Northwest (Byrd and Macdonald 2005).  The participants were (a) of junior and senior status, (b) had earned an Associate of Arts degree from a community college, (c) were older than 25, and (d) were first generation college students as defined in our current study.  Partially structures, 30 – 60 minute interviews were conducted with individual participants to gather data about their backgrounds and experiences as college students.

Research on first generation students is still developing, and has become more common in the last 10 years.  For example, Byrd and Macdonald (2005) offered some beginning research that are importance to informing today’s work.  In particular, found several themes that emerged as they interviewed their participants.  The first generation students that participated in the survey shared that their own life experiences prior to college contributed, in either a positive or negative way, to the development of skills they perceived as critical to college success.  Participants shared that time management, goal focus, and self-advocacy were the most important skills that they valued.  As such, family motivations, either positive or negative, directly had an impact in the time management, goal focus, and self-advocacy skills that they felt were necessary in preparation for college (Byrd and Macdonald, 2005).  The research suggests that first generation students, particularly younger first generation students, might be particularly at risk for college readiness, given that life experiences and being older contributed to the skills of the non-traditional first generation students.  Finally, Byrd and Macdonald (2005) note in their findings the theme of self-concept.  The researchers offer that those whose parents did not go to college may view themselves as less than adequate for college.  Importantly, they note, first generation students often internalize this personal self-concept that they are inadequate, making additional support necessary throughout the process (Byrd and Macdonald, 2005).

Byrd and Macdonald (2005) clarify that self-concept is ”the individuals belief about himself or herself, including the person’s attributes and who and what the self is” (Baumeister, 1999).  While dated in nature, Rogers (1959) offers further clarification that is important in helping to understand today’s first generation student.  His prior research seeks to explain the connection between self-concept and the first generation GCP.  He claims that self-concept has three different components: the view you have of yourself (self-image), how much value you place on yourself (self-esteem and self-worth), and what you wish you were really like (ideal-self).  Thus it appears that a significant gap exists for FGEN students compared to their continuing education peers.  If FGEN students are internalizing their own personal self-concept, and its attributes, this is has larger implications with self-image, self-worth, self-esteem, and the perceived notion of what one’s ideal self could and should be.  If this process is internalized, and not expressed to one’s support system, the research shows this has significant implications for the CGP for FGEN students.

Research also suggests that other significant factors come into play as parents seek to support their first generation students’ matriculation to college.  As an example, with the absence of appropriate information and support, many parents unfamiliar with college life and concerned about opportunity costs of college for their family unit may construe college as a threat, and as a result, resist best-laid plans for qualified students (Auerbach, 1999, 2003).  In addition, the issue of distance, and whether going far from the family unit, is said to impact the college matriculation process for first generation students (Auerbach, 2004).  As a whole, given their own lack of experience with college systems, research has shown that parents express significant doubts on how their own first generation student will navigate college (Auerbach, 2004).

Alvarez (2016) conducted a significant study over 12 month as she sought to research the attitudes that exist within the Latina/o student, parents and families, and how each group impacts the CGP.  In her qualitative study, Alvarez conducted interviews of Latina/o students and families of the Coachella Valley in Southern California (Alvarez, 2016).  Alvarez (2016) notes that she decided upon qualitative methods to potentially capture the complexities of social interaction  through the probing of emerging issues (Bogden & Bilken, 2007).  In addition, Alvarez (2016) notes that a qualitative approach gave rich data that a quantitative study could not afford.  Alvarez conducted 105 interviews over a 12-month period, which took place during the students’ senior year of high school.

In her research, Alvarez (2016) explores the complexities of first generation students and their families, and the complexities involved to plan, navigate, and head to college.  As she discusses her research, she notes that she had significant findings that odder a glimpse into the experience for both parties.  First, she notes that her research validates the significant emotional work behind the college-going process.  Much of this emotional work was dependent upon student and parent familiarity with the U.S. higher education system (Alvarez, 2016).  It was this familiarity, or lack thereof, of the U.S. higher education system that significantly influenced how parents and families faced emotions within the CGP (Alvarez, 2016).  Next, Alvarez (2016) notes that a significant finding in her research was that the emotional journey of students and parents/families is of paramount importance.  The array of emotions students and parents felt during the CGP – including happiness, frustration, and accomplishment, among others offers that both parties are motivated by the emotions that they felt (Alvarez, 2016).  Emotions, she adds, are reflective of both parents/families and students’ familiarity with the CGP (Alvarez, 2016).  Finally, expectations of families play a critical role in the college-going process (Alvarez, 2016).  Her research suggests that varying expectations by individual parents and the family unit influence the student’s perspective of the CGP, and these expectations, in turn directly impact the student’s experience and journey to college (Alvarez, 2016).  Alvarez (2016) also offers that the expectations of parents for college matriculation are directly based upon the parents’ own understanding of the purpose of college, the parents’ own personal journey, and their knowledge of their own student.

Acker-Ball (2007) offers from her research that most families of first generation students do not engage their own students in academic programs, study skill or SAT workshops, or prep courses.  She does report findings that parents often were able to assist their own first generation students with homework at a younger age, and that older siblings offered critical support as well (Acker-Ball, 2007).  First generation students report that their parents could often not provide academic support to them because they were not familiar with the school material and did not have the requisite skills to assist them (Acker-Ball, 2007).  The research offers that the actions and assistance of the family unit impacted first generation students’ ideas and attitudes about education (Acker-Ball, 2007).  In short, while not having many of the academic skills and knowledge needed by the first generation students, the parents’ and family units’ insistence about working and studying hard and earning good grades provided the needed support and encouragement that further reinforced the students’ aspirations to go to college (Acker-Ball, 2007).  Parents demonstrate a real concern for their child’s future well-being, particularly in student abilities to be successful and earn a “good living” (Acker–Ball, 2007).  Parents, according to Acker-Ball (2007), reinforce the need to higher education, and although they did become less involved (with school work specifically) as students grew, the attitude of parents continued to reinforce the importance of a college education.

Ceja (2004) offers research on the concept of messaging and communication, and its impact on parent perceptions for first generation students and their matriculation to college.  In the study, Ceja (2004) offers context regarding the first generation Chicana student, and the role of parents and their attitudes of cultivating college aspirations.  Ceja (2004) suggests that in his research, parents play a pivotal and critical role, both positive and negative, in impacting a first generation student’s matriculation to college.  The study reaffirmed the notion that for many parents, attaining a college education was perceived as the only viable option that would give their children the opportunity to avoid barriers that made it difficult for parents themselves to be successful without a college degree Ceja, 2004).  In a positive way, Ceja (2004) notes that through intentional support and encouragement, parents in his study were able to create what Gandara (1995) calls a “culture of possibility” for their child to attend college.  According to Gandara (1995), parents and the family unit create this culture of possibility through their own stories, exchange of cultural ideals and values, and, importantly, their own faith and belief in the possibility of social mobility via a college education.

Impact of parent and family involvement on the FGEN CGP. The current literature supports the ideal that parental involvement does influence college-going rates for all students.  Jerry Trusty (1998) conducted a study using national data to examine the influence of family and parenting variables on expectations regarding education.  In his study, Trusty (1998) analyzed data from 14,673 young adults and their parents that participated in the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS).  The NELS of 1988 database (NELS:88 NCES; CD#: NCES 96-130) tracks nearly 15,000 1988 eighth graders, with follow up surveys in 1990 (10th grade), 1992 (12th grade), and 1994 (2 years out of high school) (Cabrera and La Nasa, 2001).  In the first follow-up questionnaire, students were surveyed on their perceptions, behavior, and experiences regarding school, leisure, and family (Trusty, 1998).  The follow-up parent questionnaire, the survey assesses the most knowledgeable parents’ perceptions and behavior regarding their child, their child’s school, and the family (Trusty, 1998).  It is important to take note that of the several national databases available to researchers, this database is best suited to examine the three tasks critical to college choice because it tracks students from the eighth grade until after high school graduation. At present, the vast explanatory potential of the NELS database has not been fully used to explain how low-income students make college attendance decisions (Cabrera and La Nasa, 2001).

In his findings, Trusty (1998) examined and reported on demographic, family, and parenting variables, and how each impacted expectations regarding their students’ education.  SES status of the family unit also served as a strong connection to the educational expectations of the family for their child (Trusty, 1998).  However, more important that SES, adolescents’ perceptions of parents’ personal educational support was the strongest influence on student educational expectations (Trusty, 1998).  In addition, the parents themselves, and their own behavior was strongly connected to educational expectations for their student (Trusty, 1998).  Finally, Trusty (1998) noted a strong connection between parent and family educational expectations, and the parents’ attendance at academic/extracurricular activities that could potentially serve to support the student (Trusty, 1998).

Further literature suggests that parental and family involvement can impact first generation students throughout the CGP.  As a whole, parents who are college-educated and possess a college degree are perceived as a valuable source of information for students seeking to enter college (Ishitani, 2005; Horn and Nunez, 2000).  In contrast, first generation students are less likely to consult with their parents regarding the college admission process and potential aspects of college such as course selection (Ishitani et al., 2005).  Further review of the literature offers that despite the lack of interaction with their parents regarding processes related to matriculating to college, first generation students were also no more likely, and at times, less than likely, to seek assistance from teachers, counselors, principals, and others on these matters as well.  Horn and Nunez (2000) suggest from their findings that a lack of information from first generation parents, schools, and family agents account for rates at which first generation students and others enroll in colleges.  Finally, parental impact can significantly impact first generation student participation in academic programs, which are deemed vital to their ability to acquire proficient skills to attend college (Ishitani, 2005).  King (2012) offers that there is a direct connection between parental and community participation and the college going rates of their own students, specifically those students that are potentially the first in their family to obtain a 4-year college degree.

In another quantitative study using the same NELS database as Trusty (1998), Cabrera and La Nasa (2001) examine how parent and family encouragement impacts the process of students matriculating to college.  The details of the sample are identical to those of Trusky, including sample size, survey methods, and gathering of information from different touch points from the same student sample over time.  After analyzing their data, Cabrera and La Nasa (2001) were able to significantly conclude that parents and family provide and offer encouragement to students during the CGP that helps and enhances the student to matriculate to college.  Parental involvement is directly related to the amount of information that parents and families themselves have regarding the college process (Cabrera and La Nasa, 2001).  First-hand exposure, note the researchers, to a college education greatly facilitates and impacts this access to information to the college process (Cabrera and La Nasa, 2001).

Cabrera and La Nasa (2001) suggest that college-educated parents are more likely to see the long-term benefits associated with a college degree and to communicate this to their children (Coleman, 1988).  While further research is needed, Cabrera and La Nasa (2001) suggest in their findings that the data demonstrates that the lowest-SES students are also the most disadvantaged when it comes to matriculating to college.  As a result of their findings, Cabrera and La Nasa (2001) offer that parental involvement in their student’s activities, as well as parental educational expectations would be enhanced if the lowest-SES parent could see a connection an inherent value between a college degree and economic benefits/social mobility.

Cabrera and La Nasa (2001) suggest with their research findings that the data affirms that college enrollment, specifically of low-SES and first generation students, requires successful completion of critical tasks (Adelman 1999; Berkner, and Chavez, 1997; Horn and Nunez, 2000).  Each of these tasks must be completed through not only the merits of the first generation student, but also when he or she receives critical support and assistance (Adelman et al., 1999).  Additional literature suggests that the acquisition of college qualifications, graduation from high school, and applying to college is embedded into what is known as the college-choice process (Hossler, Braxton, and Coopersmith, 1989).  In each phase of the college-choice process, the high school student develops predispositions about attending college (Hossler et al., 1999)  First, a high school must search for general information about college.  Next, the student makes college attendance choices (Hossler et al., 1999).  For this to occur, the student must secure college qualifications and graduate from high school (Hossler, 1999).  Finally, as a student acquires qualifications needed for college, this is a byproduct of educational plans to attend college, as well as parental encouragement and involvement (Cabrera and La Nasa, 2001).

Finances and its impact for First Generation Parents/families, Students, and the CGP

According to Thayer (2000), family income is the greatest predictor of college enrollment for any student, even when the student’s ability is considered.  Acker-Ball (2007) offers in her research that finances, specifically SES status and social class challenges, impact first generation student decisions to enroll in a college.  Students suggest that many obstacles that they faced throughout childhood was due to low SES status, as well as a lack of social prestige (Acker-Ball, 2007).  At the same time, many students may aspire to go to college, and know that it is an expectation of their parents and family unit.  The issue, though, is how to pay for college (Acker-Ball, 2007).

Most first generation students do receive some form of financial aid; however, the majority of the students receive no direct financial provisions from their family, and have to use multiple forms of financial aid to pay for their education (Acker-Ball, 2007).  King (2012) offers with her research that student and family financial resources, along with family knowledge concerning the FAFSA and the financial aid process, also have an impact and influence on a student’s decision to attend college.  One study specifically of Latino students whose parents have a college degree and hold a higher SES, enrollment to a four-year college is more likely (Alvarez, 2016; Munoz & Rincon, 2015).  Cabrera and La Nasa (2001) offer that parental education also conditions the extent to which parents are knowledgeable about college qualification criteria and with financial strategies to pay for college.  In another study, Ikenberry and Hartle (1998) found that the amount and quality of information on financing the college experience varies proportionally with SES status.  Overall, the researchers claim, upper-income families were more knowledgeable about how to pay for college (Ikenberry & Hartle, 1998).

To further study the financial implications, Ishitani (2005) conducted a study to investigate longitudinal educational attainments using the NCES national data sets noted in previous studies.  This study further divided the broadly defined group of first-generation students into two subgroups. The first subgroup of first-generation students included students with parents whose highest educational attainment was either a high school diploma or less.  The second subgroup included students whose parent(s) attended colleges, but never attained a bachelor’s degree (Ishitani, 2005).  Similar to other researchers, Ishitani (2005) tracked the same cohort over time, beginning with student participation as 8th graders in 1988, and concluded in 2000 when most participants would be of age to graduate from college.  Based upon his study, Ishitani (2015) was able to conclude that as he tracked the same cohort over time, financial aid and assistance has been shown to both positively and negatively impact first generation student persistence during their first and second years of college.  Grants in aid, he concluded, had a positive effect on first generation student persistence, and loans, in contrast, negatively impacted the ability of first generation students to remain in college (Ishitani, 2005).

Theory and Research: Impact of Parents and Families on the First Generation Student Transition to/Experience within College

Equally as important to the literature review is not only the role that parents play in helping their students go to college, but also to remain in college, be successful, and be among the first generation in their family to earn a four-year college degree.  According to King (2012), research supports that parental involvement does play a role with the college rates of students, and their ability to attend college.  Concerning first generation college students, if neither their parent nor guardian has attended college or completed a four-year college degree, this directly influences their ability to enter college and, importantly, remain in college (King, 2012).

When considering factors such as educational expectations and support from families and schools, first generation students have more challenges and difficulty navigating the college environment (Acker-Ball, 2007).  Many students do not know what questions to ask and to obtain necessary information and resources to pursue a college degree, and are at greater risk of attrition than their continuing-generation peers (Hsiao, 1992).  In addition, first generation students lack time management techniques, underestimate the financial costs associated with college life, and have little knowledge of policies, procedures, and “unwritten rules” of higher education institutions (Hsiao, 1992; Thayer, 2000).  The ability of a first generation student to earn a four-year college degree is significantly related to their own parents’ education and SES; moreover, this lack of exposure and knowledge further impacts each student and their ability to aspire to persist in college (Trotter, 2001; Terenzini, Springer, Yeager, Pascarella & Nora, 1996)

Another significant challenge first generation students face while in college is their departure from the working pattern already established in their homes (Acker-Ball, 2007).  Because their ability to secure a good job is essential to assist with the financial well-being of the family unit, the students failure to fully contribute while in college significantly impacts the amount of positive reinforcement that students receive while pursuing a college education (Nunez & Cuccaro-Alamin, 1998).  As a consequence, first generation students typically do not receive support, such as words of encouragement and general interest, from parents, family, and friends, especially those first generation students who still live at home (Nunez & Cuccaro-Alamin, 1998; Hsiao, 1992).  Billson and Terry (1982) suggest this lack of support not received from first generation parents and family members is due in part to the attitudes they share about education.  First generation students’ attitudes while in college are less congruent than those of their parents, as students place greater significance in gaining and obtaining an education. This disconnect and lack of congruence often contributes to first generation student vulnerability to leave school (Billson & Terry, 1982).

First generation students themselves share that they often feel significantly different from continuing generation students about being prepared for college (Pratt & Scaggs, 1989).  Pratt and Scaggs (1989) conducted a study of all entering first-time freshmen (n=1035) during the first week of school at the University of Maine.  Of the 1,035 freshmen students surveyed, 27%, or 278, were first generation college students as defined for the purposes of this study (Pratt & Scaggs, 1989).  In their findings, the researchers note that along with feeling different in terms of preparation, first generation students appeared to be substantially more committed to attending and succeeding at the University of Maine than their continuing education peers (Pratt & Scaggs, 1989).  First generation students in the study also shared in the study that college attendance appeared less important to their parents than to those of their continuing education peers.  Finally, the findings of their study confirmed that during their entry and transition into college, first generation students are more likely to limit their aspirations to only a bachelor’s degree, and to not pursue further graduate study (Pratt and Scaggs, 1989).

Longwell-Grice (2008) offer that first generation students significantly struggle between family expectations and institutional expectations.  Their research suggests that the majority of first generation students come to campus solely to take classes, know only a small part of campus, and have little involvement with faculty (Longwell-Grice & Longwell-Grice, 2008).  First generation students also suggested in their study that they felt “busy faculty” were not interested in “wasting time” with them, and this led to a lack of implied student support due to their family histories and backgrounds (Longwell-Grice, et al., 2008).  Students suggest that they experience a significant struggle to negotiate all expectations of them, and their past and future academic successes (Longwell-Grice et al., 2008).  While share bewilderment that they had been successful enough at school to make it to college, but lacked the cultural capital to make their way to and/or past faculty and educators that they viewed as the “gatekeepers” to their educational experience (Longwell-Grice et al., 2008).  In the study, Longwell-Grice (2008) offer that successful first generation students needed active mentors, in addition to their own family support system, to persist and be successful in college.  In addition, first generation students expressed that any success they found success through the education system was generally dependent upon the formation of genuinely supportive relationships with mentors (Longwell-Grice et al., 2008).  This being said, students also reported that finding these supportive relationships were difficult, as they often had to be the initiator of the process (Longwell-Grice et al., 2008).

Barry, Hundley and Cho (2009) conducted a similar study that analyzed the specific nature of parent and family support of first generation students, and its effectiveness in helping these students in college.  Using a student survey conducted at four universities across the country (n=1,539), the disclosure of first generation student experience was analyzed and compared.  The targets of students’ disclosure, including family, friends from home, friends at school, and professionals at school also were examined (Barry et al., 2009).  The study found first generation students have complex social networks, and that they exhibit lower levels of disclosure of their college experience than their continuing generation peers (Barry et al., 2009).  In addition, first generation students reported significant less disclosure of college experiences with family, friends from home, and friends at school than their continuing education peers (Barry et al., 2009).  This, in turn, means that first generation students have less relevant social support during their transition to college, and are less likely to disclose their college experiences with others (Barry et al., 2009).  This lack of disclosure may be one aspect of their experience that is more difficult for the first generation student population, and offers implications for potential intervention measures in the future (Barry et al., 2009).  Finally, first generation students have the potential for greater social isolation due to this lack of family support with the college experience itself (Barry et al., 2009).

College aspirations, expectations, as well as orientations toward learning play a major role in the development and college persistence of first generation college students (Penrose, 2002).  Penrose (2002) offers from her research that first generation students differ from their continuing education students in both their social/family circumstances as well as their academic preparation.  First generation students approach college with weaker academic preparation, have fewer academic and economic resources to draw upon, and, different than their continuing education peers, must apportion their time and energy among multiple responsibilities off-campus (Penrose, 2002).  Interestingly, while first generation students are found to differ from their continuing education peers in general academic prepared ness, in their retention rates and in their perceptions of their academic literacy skills, Penrose (2002) found that they do not differ from their continuing education peers with respect to college performance.

Penrose (2002) also offers that first generation students’ self-perceptions represent critical factors in their college experience, underscoring the importance of helping students forge identities as members of the academic communities on campus (Penrose, 2002).  Her research suggests the importance of first generation students making themselves comfortable in an unfamiliar environment where they spend little time, and that these students must derive support, confidence, and inspiration from a thin network of intermittent connections to the university community (Penrose, 2002).  In short, what distinguishes first generation students from others in college is not their level of achievement but their university experience (Penrose, 2002).  Further literature suggests that first generation students are far more likely to leave the university due to dissatisfaction with their experience than because of academic failure (Tinto, 1993).  Penrose (2002) offers that parental experience in the academic domain may be the critical factor, and may shape students’ overall performance, interaction with faculty and other students, their degree of engagement in extracurricular activities, and possibly the course and majors that first generation student select.

First Generation students/families and communication patterns impacting college going experience. Since literature exists that offers that a gap might exist for first generation students and their necessary support when transitioning to the college environment, it is important to examine the nature of the communication itself.  Prior research had found that students whose parents attended college begin college with more understanding of the higher education process than do first generation students (Engle, 2007).  While undergoing the transition into college, parents pass on knowledge with advice and emotional support that help students when they encounter new challenges, especially during the beginning part of the college experience (Pabulsa and Gauvain (2017).  Additional literature offers that when planning for and beginning college, young adults benefit from interacting with parents and others who have college experience (Hurtado & Gauvain 1997; Kuh, Kinzie, Schuh & Whitt 2005).  These interactions can ultimately enhance a student’s awareness, understanding, and proficiency in the codes of conduct, rules and practices – or cultural capital – of the higher education setting (Bordieu, 1973).  Engle (2007) concludes that these noted informal learning experiences are more available and accessible for students whose parents attended college than for first generation students.

Pabulsa and Gauvain (2017) conducted a study of 344 first-year college students (n=344), 58.4% (n=201) of which were first generation college students that attended a public university in Southern California.  The mean age of the participants was 18 years, 66% were female, and 50.6% came from low-income families.  The sample was racially/ethnically diverse, with 35.2% Asian American, 37.5 Latino American, 14.8% White, 4.1% Black/African American and 8% no response.  For the study, students were sent a survey by the authors during their first three weeks of school seeking background information and the nature of parent/family and student communication having started college (Pabulsa & Gauvain, 2017).  Pabulsa and Gauvain (2017) offer that continuing generation students found the conversations they were having with parents about college were of higher quality and more helpful than those of first generation students within their own support system.  The researchers were able to find a direct correlation between those students that had higher-quality conversations with their parents to higher first-year GPAs among students (Pabulsa & Gauvain, 2017).  Much of the research seems to point to parents, and how and to what degree they are used for support.  Further research suggests that first generation student view parents as encouragers and inspirations for the college process, which continuing generation students view parents as “instrumental, rather than emotional, resources” (Nichols and Islas, 2015).

While research and literature suggest that first generation families may lack knowledge of higher education systems, additional literature offers that first generation parents and families offer essential social and emotional support to their students while transitioning into the college environment.  Ricks (2016) offers in his study of North Carolina State University first generation students that students reported finding quite a bit of emotional support from their own families by making an effort to call and connect with those at home.  Others reported feeling supported and satisfied with frequently visiting home on the weekends, and also receiving various amounts of financial support when needed (Ricks, 2016).  This informal acts of support, Ricks (2016) suggests, help support students through an uncomfortable adjustment during the first few weeks of school.  In addition, first generation students reported receiving significant support from other members of their family support system, such as older siblings and cousins that had already graduated from college (Ricks, 2016).  Once first generation students were able to make this connections with various family members, they found it easier and more comfortable to seek additional support from college counselors, advisors, mentors, and professors (Ricks, 2016).  Ricks (2016) was able to conclude with his study that higher education professionals were helpful and significant, and provided critical resources to first generation students during the beginning states of their transition into college.  Students singled out feelings of empathy and authenticity as being regularly offered and important, as it offered a support system similar to their own family unit (Ricks, 2016).


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proceeds to present the models of consumer behaviour, moving to the illustration of the physical determinants of consumer behaviour and decision making process and finally, a brief depiction of the roles and impact of packaging in the buying process.

1.1. Models of consumer behaviour

The consumer behaviour area was regarded as part of modern marketing in the 1960s and it is considered to be one of the most important and studied disciplines of behavioural sciences. The term behavioural science includes a number of disciplines that are relevant to consumer behaviour. Behavioural sciences can be classified into two main categories:

  • neural – Information sciences
  • social – Relational sciences

On one hand, the first category, information processing sciences represent the data gathering, processing and analysis of stimuli by cognitive entities. This information is received from the social environment and it leads to influencing the decision-making process, social judgement and social perception (Peter, 2010). Some subjects included in this category are psychology, psychobiology, social neuroscience and cognitive science. On the other hand, the second category,  relational sciences represent the domains dealing with associations, relationships, interactions and relational strategies or dynamics in a social environment, including fields such as sociology, social psychology (Deepak et al., 2002). Consumers’ research is interdisciplinary, including subjects such as psychology, economy and sociology. Areas of psychology such as motivation, perception, emotions, thinking, memory and personality contribute to the basis of the theory of consumer behaviour. Concepts of sociology such as group, power, status, shift, the theory of consumer behaviour as social and cultural influences are included. Knowledge from the natural sciences has also been incorporated into consumer research. Human behaviour is also biological: instincts, reflexes, gestures. (Trommsdorff & Teichert, 2011) Figure 1: Decision making analysis clip_image004_thumb13.jpg Source: (Chand, 2016) The importance of consumer behaviour as an area of ​​marketing is recognised in the context of the four marketing instruments (Campbell, 2004).Thus, businesses are trying to influence the consumer’s decision though the aspects they can control, such as:

  • The price policy is influenced by consumer behaviour in a complex manner. It represents the way in which consumers react to different price fluctuations given by a range of selling strategies such as drip pricing, baits, time-limited offers, or special offers. (The Framework contract for economic analysis , 2006)
  • The communication policy is also based on consumer behaviour and it is developed in such a way that it can answer questions like: when should certain effects be used? Which advertising statements should be used? (Huck & Wallace, 2015)
  • Product policy uses findings from consumer research, particularly for the segmentation of markets for different variants of product and for product positioning.
  • Consumer behaviour also plays an important role in distribution policy. It answers questions like: Where and which locations are suitable? How does the consumer behave in certain trading transactions? (The Framework contract for economic analysis , 2006)

Moreover, the basic types of purchase decisions are differentiated according to the number of persons involved in the decision, whether a person is a decision-maker or whether there are several persons in charge, and for whom the decision is made, a consumer or an organisation. A combination of these leads to a matrix in which four basic types of purchase decisions can be mapped. In this regard, the purchasing decisions are generally divided into two broad categories: consumer and organisational purchasing decisions. Table 1: The purchase decision matrix

  Individual Collective
Consumer Individual purchase decision in private households Collective purchase decision in private households
Organization Individual purchase decision in organizations Collective purchase decisions in organizations

Source: (Chand, 2016) This figure briefly shows the basic types of purchase decisions, which show that there are individual purchase decisions in the household – which is the classic case of consumers; Individual purchase decisions in an organization – people who decide in an organization what and when is bought for the organization; Collective purchase decisions in private households – several members of the family decide when buying; And collective purchasing decisions when important organizational decisions are taken in a centralized way, collectively. There are certain differences between consumer and organisational purchasing decisions. The most important feature, which shows a clear difference between the two buying behaviours is represented by the influence of the emotions in the case of consumer buyer behaviour and of the rational decisions in the case of organisational buyer behaviour (Jobber & Lancaster, 2009).

1.1.1 The S-O-R model (The Stimulus-Organism-Response model)

The SOR model is defined according to Otto Buxbaum in “Key Insights into Basic Mechanisms of Mental Activity” as the following concept: When a certain S – stimulus (e.g. an attractively presented product) meets an O – organism, the R – reaction (e.g. the purchase of this product) is observed. (Bauxbaum, 2016) The S-O-R model is a practical model, that questions what is and what happens in between S and R. Figure 2: The S-O-R Model Fig-1-Mehrabian-and-Russell's-1974-S-O-R-model.jpg Source: (Mehrabian & Russell, 1974) As indicated by this model, physical stimuli (e.g., colour, music, scent, and lighting) impact human feelings, such as joy or excitement (Mummalaneni, 2005). Physical stimuli impact the tactile factors of the ordinary surroundings, for example, colour, scent, music and texture, what’s more on the surface (Ha, 2006). The S-O-R model demonstrates that affecting states influenced by the environment impact a person’s response behaviour (Ha & Lennon, 2010). As variables, the affecting states generate different buyer response behaviour  (Mehrabian & Russell, 1974) (Mummalaneni, 2005). Researchers have found that affecting states (i.e., joy and excitement) experienced while shopping in retail locations impacts consumer satisfaction  (Machleit & Eroglu, 2000) and purchase decision (Baker et al., 1992). There are two categories of stimuli in the SOR model, the marketing stimuli and the other stimuli also known as environmental stimuli. Thus the marketing mix is ​​distinguished from the so-called societal stimuli, but both categories are directly observable and are factors influencing the purchase decision. In the centre stands the organism with its activating and cognitive processes, with non-observable variables such involvement, reference groups and culture (Bauxbaum, 2016). With the help of stimuli to the organism, an output result and thus, a reaction which is directly observable. The response appears in the brand selection, preferences or purchase amount, in the behaviour of the buyer. This model thus links the observable stimuli and the non-observable stimuli, to observe the consumer’s purchase behaviour.

1.1.2 Consumer’s purchasing process

The physical purchasing processes are divided into two categories: activating subsystem and cognitive subsystem (Kotler & Keller, 2006). Each purchase process contains certainly defined phases from pre-purchase to the purchase of a product or service. The figure below reflects these steps of the purchase process. Figure 3: The 5 steps consumer’s purchasing process cerop.jpg Source: (Kotler & Keller, 2006)

1.2. Physical determinants of consumer behaviour

According to the three-component model of Rosenberg / Hovland (1960), there are three ways an object can be evaluated: affective, cognitive, and conative. i.e. An affective evaluation occurs when the person emotionally evaluates the object, a cognitive one represents what the person knows about the object, and conative is the way the person behaves towards the object. For a better explanation of this component, the following example is provided:

  • Affective component: “I like the bottled water from Dorna.”
  • Cognitive component: “The bottled water from Dorna is good.”
  • Conical component: “I would buy bottled water from Dorna.”

The activating processes are those processes which are associated with internal excitations and tensions (i.e., unspecific excitatory processes) and also with specific excitatory processes of the organism (driving forces associated with thirst or love) and thus have an influence on the human behaviour. On the contrary, the cognitive processes, are the processes by which the individual records, processes and saves information. Activating processes include determinants such as tension, excitement, emotions, motivation, attitudes. Cognitive processes include the following determinants: perception, learning. Through the internal excitement processes, with the help of the cognitive awareness and control processes, the human impulses arise like emotions, motivation, attitudes.

1.2.1 Activating processes

So that we can easily explain the determinants of the activating processes, we take the following example: a person who likes to train in the gym and maintain a sporty and healthy life. Emotional: The person will feel comfortable when he is exercising in the gym. This requires training clothes and athletic shoes. Whenever the person passes a business with sporting articles, she will feel an inner stimulus because she remembers the workout. The person will experience emotions like joy and well-being. Motivational: There is a motivation to have sporting articles and sporting accessories so that you can fulfil the desired experience. This motivation expresses an activity or goal orientation. Settings: The person will positively appreciate such sports items because it is motivated and will buy these goods.   Emotions From everyday experience, we know how important a product is to us, which is our loyalty to it and how we have certain predilections for certain goods as we like certain colours, taste and favourite music. Emotions can have a strong influence on the purchase decision since you can often associate a product with a feeling and because the emotions are permanent. We connect products with certain emotions and for this reason, a connection arises  (Couste et al., 2013). In commerce in general, but especially in the field of consumer products, there is an established relationship between the emotional impact of a company and its message and the demand for the product. Obviously, there are basic functional criteria that clearly influence the decision making when it comes to buying a product, but there is, however, a great similarity to the basic functions of some competing products (e.g. Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Canon and Nikon) and these acquisitions are strongly influenced by personal and subjective impulses. The companies try to create an emotional customer relationship, to arouse certain feelings, to attract consumers through their emotional side. In the advertising messages, one can clearly see how the companies are trying to communicate not only a message but an experience. This is done with the help of certain music, colours, images that awaken certain feelings, etc. Figure 4: Examples of slogans in marketing with explicit naming of an emotion  Source: (The Coca-Cola Company, n.d.) (McDonald’s, n.d.) Craig Elbert (TechCrunch, 2014) describes the following contexts of the emotion with the user behaviour:

  • intrigues and secrets – creates a curiosity, important for advertising in general to create attention
  • desire and striving -help for the image of the products
  • urgency and anxiety – provoking a feeling to react immediately, a feeling that is missing something that leads to a purchase
  • Surprise and laughter-awakens the feeling of sharing

In his psycho-evolutionary theory of emotions, Robert Plutchiks, a professor of psychology at the University of South Florida, developed a “wheel of emotions” diagram (Figure 5) showing the relationship with the emotions. Figure 5: Plutchiks’ Wheel of Feelings  Source: (Plutchik, n.d.) His theory wants to explain that the purchase decision is not just based on the quality of the products, but on the feelings, they feel when they take the product into account, feelings like loyalty or envy. (Mattison, 2014) Motivation We try to understand why people prefer certain brands or products, why they are irrational, why they are looking for a specific lifestyle, others vehemently reject the fact that they can be influenced by media and advertising campaigns, even if they do not admit it, they do not only place emphasis on the selection and quality of goods while shopping, but also on distinctive shopping experiences. In short: we try to understand why people are as they are. “Motivation is a theoretical construct with which the drives, i.e. the causes of the behaviour, are to be explained. Thus, motivation psychology deals with the goal-oriented behaviour, i.e. with the question of how goals arise and whether they consciously or unconsciously direct our behaviour. ” (Ball, 2012) “The question of “why” puts the motivational factors of commerce in the foreground.” In consumer behaviour research, one wants to know exactly what is “driving” the consumer. Motivational research deals with questions such as the motivation of consumers to make certain buying decisions, why certain advertising messages are preferred, and others are not. On the basis of different consumer motifs, consumer typologies can also be formed (for example snapshots, Variety Seekers), so that specific marketing measures can be derived from the individual segments. Motivation is closely linked to the terms emotion and attitude. A lack of food leads to hunger: there is a “biological need” that mobilises the driving forces to its satisfaction. Hunger is a drive like thirst and sexuality. ” (Chand, 2016) Impulses can be understood as physiological deficiency states that “energise a behaviour to eliminate this deficiency” (Langens & Schmalt, 2009). This is biologically pre-programmed. One speaks also of primary motives. The motivation arises from the interaction between the affective-cognitive processes and the cognitive processes which lead to goal determinations and action programs. A simple example: through the interaction of hunger with cognitive processes of goal orientation: where can I satisfy my hunger? The motivation is to go to a restaurant. Which restaurant is then selected depends, in turn, on the attitudes to different restaurants or situations (spatial proximity, time pressure, etc.) “The motivation is, therefore, a complex, goal-oriented drive process consisting of basic drive forces and cognitive target orientation.” (Langens & Schmalt, 2009) Purchasing motifs are defined as fundamental, goal-oriented internal forces, which can be satisfied by purchasing activities (Gröppel-Klein, 2005) The typologies vary, however, quite differently: while some writers split the “hedonist” and “usability-oriented” shopping motifs, Westbrook and Black (1985) or (Gröppel-Klein, 2005) (Desire for interpersonal contact), communication (desire for interpersonal contacts), negotiation orientation (careful selection, desire the very best for the family and/or for themselves) and practicality. The results of previous empirical studies (Groppel-Klein, Thelen and Antretter, 1998, Morschett, 2002, Schramm-Klein, 2008, Sanguanpiyapan and Jasper, 2010) show the importance of purchasing strategies for the choice of a shopping center -of-sale: shopping malls can influence the emotions experienced at the point of sale as well as the duration of the stay, the willingness to explore and the interest in buying. The purchasing motifs are also decisive if the subjectively perceived degree of suitability of purchasing estates is to be assessed. Here one can see that different marketing concept of the trade satisfy different shopping patterns. Due to the demographic change, the desire for personal interaction is becoming increasingly important. The question now arises of why consumers prefer to buy on the Internet in comparison to shopping in the stationary trade. Settings We define an attitude as a state of a learned and relatively long-term willingness to react more or less strongly positively or negatively in a corresponding situation towards the subject in question. Volker Trommsdorff goes on to explain: “On the boundary in contrast to feelings, attitudes are relatively stable and linked with knowledge. Motifs flow into settings, but they are not bound to an object like settings. Beliefs are the mental (cognitive) fundamentals of attitudes. ” There are two types of settings: global and differentiated settings. For this purpose, the two terms can be explained as follows: namely, the global settings are based on the classical price/quality ratio, that is high price class with good settings. The differentiated attitudes represent the cognitive and motivational structure behind a setting. Corresponding information is provided, e.g. For the discovery of market niches, for content advertising planning or market segmentation.

1.2.2 Cognitive Processes

The cognitive processes can be characterised as mental processes. The individual is given the knowledge of his environment and himself. These processes belong to the rational side of the consumers, they control the behaviour and control it. The cognitive processes are in the price analysis of a good or in the interpretation of the ratio price-quality. According to Trommsdorff and Teichert, cognitions are therefore defined as “knowledge units, As a subjective knowledge that is available whenever necessary, whether internally as stored information available through remembering (retrieval), or as external information available through perception (recording).” Division of cognitive processes into categories:

  • information reception
  • information processing
  • information storage

The information reception “includes all processes until the transfer of stimuli or information into the central processor, where the actual cognitive processing takes place, that is, only those stimuli which are transferred from the sensory memory into the short-term memory are considered” (Ha & Lennon, 2010). The information can thus be obtained from several sources, internal (habit, own experience, impulses) and external (environment of the consumers, media, recommendations from different persons) sources which are unintentional or which are not accidental. An active search of information or passive search. Information processing is a cognitive process and is associated with processes such as perception, thinking, and decision making. “Perception includes the process of recording and selecting information as well as its organisation (structure and structuring) and interpretation by the individual.” (Mehrabian & Russell, 1974) “In order for a stimulus to be perceived in the midst of stimulus overload, it must exceed a specific intensity threshold.” Another process in information processing is deciding. According to Swoboda, this research is defined as “Deciding means, limited to the field of (product) assessment, the classification and evaluation of recorded product information, resulting in a quality judgment.” Information storage includes processes such as thinking, knowledge, learning and memory, which are closely related. “Thinking is to be described as a process of judgment, order, abstraction and development of (current) perceptions, but also as a memory, restructuring and further development of memory contents. Accordingly, thinking is the linking of knowledge to general or subjective rules for new knowledge. This new knowledge, derived from the process of thought, can be a condensed information, a judgment, or a reaction. ” The term knowledge is defined by the following diagram: “According to Hofstadter, learning is defined as a change in the probability of the occurrence of a particular behaviour in a particular stimulus situation. It thus relates to concrete behavioural changes, but frequently to cognitive changes, e.g. Changes in knowledge or system of attitudes. On this basis, motor and cognitive changes can be distinguished, which mutually influence each other. ” In addition, the most important classical models of consumer behaviour are presented, as follows: Marshall’s model: is based on the fact that the consumer buys rationally and consciously, and buyers buy the products that give them the greatest satisfaction and saturation. This model explains that the price is the most important factor in the purchase decision. Pavlov’s model: has as the basis the learning theory and contains four important elements: impulse, proposal, reaction and future purchase decision. The model shows that man can be conditioned by repetition and amplification that he can react to a certain behaviour. This model does not include elements such as perception, subconsciousness or influence between people. Freud’s model: The consumer behaviour is explained in this model by some biological and cultural elements. Elements such as attitude and view are considered here. Veblenian’s model: The model deals with the explanation that the consumer takes into account the influence of society, whereby culture, social classes, community are important influencing factors in the purchase decision.

1.2.3. Factors influencing consumer behaviour

As mentioned earlier in this chapter, there is a large number of factors influencing consumer behaviour. Sustaining this idea, Philip Kotler and Gary M. Armstrong, in their book “Principles of Marketing”, categorised the factors in 4 main groups:

  1. “Psychological factors (motivation, involvement, perception, learning, beliefs and attitudes)
  2. Personal factors (age, occupation, life-cycle stage, economic circumstances, lifestyle, personality and self concept)
  3. Social factors (reference groups, family, roles and status)
  4. Cultural factors (culture, subculture, social class system)” (Kotler & Armstrong, 2008)

Even though the economic circumstances were considered to be a sub-category of personal factors, newer models consider them as a separated fifth class of factors, as represented in Figure 6. The economic factors include: personal income, family income, expectations regarding future income, liquid assed and consumer credit, level of standard of living. Figure 6: Factors influencing consumer behaviour C:\Users\Ally\Desktop\factors-influencing-consumer-behaviour.jpg Source: (Ramya & Dr. Mohamed Ali, 2016)

1.3. The packaging’s influence on consumer decision-making process

Starting from the question “What is packaging?”, there is a variety of definitions available, presenting different approaches, from very simple and functional to a more holistic interpretation. Packaging can be characterised as an extrinsic component of the product  (Olson & Jacoby, 1972) – an attribute that is identified with the product, but however, does not make part of the physical product itself. Highlighting this idea, it was stated by Williams Arens that: “Packaging is the container for a product – encompassing the physical appearance of the Container and including the design, colour, shape, labelling and materials used” (Arens, 1996). From a managerial point of view, packaging can be of a minor importance for some products, like for meat products, or of a major one, for products such as beer, chocolate, yoghurt, etc. Many economists consider packaging as an important element of a company’s management policy because, besides its intrinsic qualities, the protection of the good, packaging also implies a number of other particularly important qualities such as the promotion of the product. Packaging sends a very strong promotional message, especially for branded products. An example that no longer requires any comments is that of the famous Coca-Cola bottles. But before such a packaging to make important contributions to selling the product, there is a tremendous work that involves well-known management, the courage to take the risk and, last but not least, a lot of imagination. At the first sight, for a buyer, the packaging may not represent much because it is to be removed anyway after using the product. But, in practice, things are very different, or even on the contrary in some cases. Often, the packaging chosen provides information about the product contained, it gives the comfort and convenience of using the product, it gives us a guarantee of quality (for example, water bottled in glass is generally considered to be better than the one bottled in plastic), etc. Behind the production of a viable packaging, there are many elements of aesthetics and design that are particularly important. The introduction of self-service has led to a change in how consumers make purchasing decisions. Products, with their attractive packaging, have become true sales representatives, the direct contact between vendors and exported merchandise being eliminated. Retail has matured as supermarkets, and their client today is the individual with the most studied commercial behaviour (The World Trade Organization (WTO), 2011).

1.3.1. The roles and importance of packaging in consumer’s decision

Packaging is a key component of the marketing mix that can attract and persuade consumers to buy a brand, a product. It is considered that a picture makes for a thousand words and in the case of packaging, this saying is applied. A well chosen and packaged product protects the merchandise during transport or storage and minimises the risk of a damage occurring. Also, the image of the packaging, the design and the material contribute to the buying decision. The roles and importance of packaging:

  • The packaging fulfils a functional role of physically covering and protecting the content of the product in both, the store and the home of the purchaser of the product. In many cases, the packaging has also developed functions that are related to the product experience. (e.g. Beverage caps for sportsmen and devices added to beer cans that create foam when beer is poured into a glass).
  • The packaging has a the role of creating a barrier protection between the product and the environment, sometimes limiting the access of oxygen, dust, water vapours, etc.
  • The packaging also has an informational role, containing details about ingredients, how to use, storage, nutrient intake and product price. Buyers go over hundreds of brands when they visit a store, and aesthetics are essential to make the brand stand out to capture the attention of buyers and make it easy for consumers to find and buy (Deliya & Parmar, 2012).
  • The packaging has a marketing role, presenting elements used by marketers who encourage the buying process of the product.
  • The packaging provides the means for containment and agglomeration, easing the process of transportation. Small products are usually packed together in order to facilitate the transport and the handling efficiency. Alternatively, bulk products, such as salt, sugar, are generally packed into individual sizes, suitable for individual households.
  • The packaging has also the role of reducing theft by the physical destruction of the package (showing obvious signs of the opening), by offering the possibility of built-in anti-theft devices or the impossibility of reclosing the packages
  • The packaging could also offer the convenience of use by added features who increase the convenience in display, handling and distribution through options such as to open, re-open, use, re-use.

The packaging shows the brand’s personality, positioning, values ​​and advantages. Not all buyers are the same, so different types of packaging are needed to reach different buyer typologies. Some recognise a consumer package as the one directed towards a consumer or a household. Packaging might be analyzed in connection to the kind of product being packed: mass chemical packaging, over-the-counter medication packaging, retail food packaging, military material packaging, pharmaceutical packaging, and so on. In order to fulfil one of its most important roles, the marketing role, the packaging has to meet a number of conditions, such as:

  • To attract the buyer’s attention: Packaging draws the buyer’s attention through the graphics, label, brand, design;
  • To be easy to recognize;
  • To suggest a precise idea about the product;
  • To advertise the product, but in no case to mislead the buyers; For this, the packaging must communicate to the public the characteristics of the product, product identifiers, conditions of use; Information provided by texts, labels, pictograms, codes referring to the brand, name, provenance, mode of use, toxicity, environmental impact, shelf life, etc .;
  • To highlight the essential characteristics of the product so that consumers can easily distinguish it from similar products;
  • To allow the product to be placed in a product group;
  • In case of a need for a new packaging, this does not have to lower customer loyalty in the quality of the product. A new packaging always has to be superior to the old one, to increase its loyalty.

1.3.2 Packaging classification

Classification by the main types of packaging:

  1. Packaging made of paper, cardboard or cellulosic material

Characteristic of paper and cardboard materials which made them recommend for packaging: – small weight; – odourless, insipid; – parchment paper has low permeability; – covered or plastic paper and cardboard are resistant to oils, gases, alcohol, ethers, esters, acids, weak bases. Paper-cardboard packages are made from the following types of base materials: – flat cardboard; – duplex – at least 2 layers of fibrous material, joined by wet pressing; – triplex – at least 3 layers of fibrous material, joined by pressing in a wet condition; – corrugated cardboard – obtained from 1-4 smooth layers and 1-3 corrugated layers, joined together by adhesive, is used for packaging of products requiring protection against mechanical shocks (glass, ceramics, furniture).

  1. Packaging made of plastic

Plastic is widely used for packaging, due to the following properties: – reduced specific mass; – resistance to moisture; – resistance to action of acids and alkalis; – good mechanical resistance; – it is easy to process and to obtain packages of different shapes and sizes; – hygienic-sanitary properties The most common types plastic packaging are: – bags, bags, flexible packaging made of polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC). – glasses, trays, plates – obtained from rigid forms, which have the capability of hot forming; – complex packaging

  1. Metal packaging

The metal is used in the chemical industry. Metal cases offer the advantage of rigidity, avoiding the risk of breakage during transport.

  1. Packaging made of glass

Bottles, bottles, jars, bottles, etc; Have an important weight in the total packing due to glass proprieties: – Provides good protection (barrier to gases, vapours, liquids); – it is transparent (allows visualization of the product, thus being a promotional factor for the sale); – shows stability to alkali, acids (the only acid attacking it is hydrofluoric acid); – it does not smell; – can be coloured by protecting the product against ultraviolet radiation; – can be processed in various forms; – is recyclable and economical. Packaging in glass also has disadvantages: – fragility (weak resistance to mechanical shocks); – relatively heavy weight, which makes it difficult to handle and raises transport costs;

  1. Wood packaging

Wood is especially used in the manufacture of transport packaging due to mechanical stress and wear to which it is exposed.

  1. Textile packaging

Textile bags have advantages such as: tear resistance, air and water permeability. On the other hand, they also present some disadvantages such as their low resistance to fire. Also, they have a small share in the packaging of goods.

  1. Packaging made of complex materials

They have appeared on the packaging market in the last 60 years. Generally, it was considered that just one type of material does not always meet all the requirements of one product or another. That is why we used the technique of covering a material (paper, cardboard, plastic, metal) with two or three layers of other materials, so the complex obtained to sum up the components of the components.

1.3.3 Influential characteristics of packaging

The aesthetic characteristics of the packaging are of great importance, acting on the buyer’s psychology, thus determining its attraction to the product. Product packaging is also an important factor in assortment diversification, contributes to qualitative product appreciation and sales stimulation.

  1. The form

A packaging’s form must take into account the environment, an assortment variety demand, the way of using dosing and proportioning the product, the product characteristics, the storage conditions pre and post purchase. Also, it helps the market through a product diversification by eliminating the uniformity and monotony of the assortment. Packaging must be characterized by its solidity, low weight, durability, functionality.

  1. The Graphics

The graphics must be simple, expressive, clear, and the illustration has to be compatible with the packaged product. Also, it is essential that its colouring and style offer value to the product and to brand name and that it allows a fast, correct, easy reading without creating confusion. Graphics, along with other elements of aesthetics, add to the individuality of consumer goods in relation to their destination. They represent an important contribution to increasing the sales of goods, stimulating competition in optimal conditions, increasing the merceological characteristics of the goods (Couste et al., 2013). The ways and patterns of packaging graphics (letter character, size, colour significance, etc.) contribute directly to a shortening of the time of identification and choosing to make a shopping decision.

  1. The colour

  The colour is one of the most important elements of packaging because it acts on the buyer’s psychology. At a first contact with a product, when it’s the first time the product is viewed, the buyer first notices the colour, the brand, the shape and finally the design. The colour, chose in close connection with the shape and the graphics, has the following objectives: • boost sales; • the aesthetic content and ambiance of commercial spaces; • product personality; • promoting elements with national, regional specificity; • psychologically creating a commercial climate; • the direct contribution to creating a tradition of products, enterprises, etc. The shape, the colour and the graphics of the packaging – the elements of synthesis within the product aesthetics – made in optimal conditions, have effective contributions, with major efficiency, within the competitive relations of internal and external trade, accelerating penetration etc (Deliya & Parmar, 2012). The development of the production and the diversification of the products in the conditions of the continuous modernization of the production, the expansion of the internal market and of the economic exchanges with other countries, such as the promotion of fast and efficient forms of trade serve as an objective necessity of improving the packing and pre-packaging activity of the products. In order to fully take advantage of a packaging’s full potential, the brands use different marketing strategies such as: design labels by shape and colour to create the illusion that the products inside can be seen. These are glued to the top of the box, thus enhancing the presentation and display possibilities of the products. The realization, which uses the collage from, the colour and graphic point of view, emphasizes in particular the advertising of the presented product (Ha, 2006). For the special products, it is also worth mentioning the use of cardboard packages, plastics that give the products a stylish elegance and aesthetics. It is remarkable that the shape of the packaging seems to vary, and due to the colour and shape of the labels, there have been provided creative ways on how to cover the lid and the neck of a bottle. Collective transport and storage packaging, made from cardboard with highly expressive and tasteful advertising elements, keeps the product in good condition and replaces crates and other packaging used for this purpose. Most boxes have a proper wearing system and opening holes, which lead to long-term use of the product. Given that the quality-price ratio is equal to more products, those that differentiate themselves through the creativity of packaging stand out from competing ones, being preferred and purchased by consumers. Packaging material and design are important elements in the sales process, but the colour combines all of its elements and is one of the most important means to make the packaging an effective communication tool. Colour sells a product, it is above all a sensation and creates an emotional state that communicates well, exceeding the size of the package, the product itself, its shape or purpose. Packaging must be treated with as much care and attention as any other form of brand communication. It should be tested both before design finishing and in terms of market performance to check how it works (Burnett, 2008).

Chapter 2. Research methodology

The hereinafter chapter has the role of presenting the methodology used in order to collect the necessary data for the research and to describe the aspects what led to the conclusions outlined in the final chapter. It was used a mixed methods approach. In order to observe the qualitative insights, there were conducted a number of interviews, regarding consumers’ experience regarding bottled water packaging, and it was combined with the quantitative thoroughness of surveys, which aimed to investigate the factors influencing consumers’ buying decision, and as well to identify the effect of each attribute of bottled water packaging on the purchase decision. Firstly, there are presented the methods for measuring consumer behaviour, then moving to defining the research methodology, stating the research’s objectives and approach. Furthermore, it is depicted the execution of the strategy and finally, there are listed the limitations to this work.

2.1. Methods for measuring consumer behaviour

As a rule, there are several methods and procedures for measuring consumer behaviour. The information is collected by various ways, e.g. By interviews, by experiments, by observations, or through panel methods, and are then measured or evaluated by various procedures. The following procedures can be mentioned here:

  • factor analysis
  • cluster analysis
  • conjoint analysis or regression analysis
  • discrimination analysis.

Figure 7: Primary data collection methods image34.png Source: (Kotler & Keller, 2006) All these procedures are statistical methods for evaluating the collected information. Survey Method The survey is one of the most famous and best-developed forms of marketing research. The actual purpose of this method is to let the persons to be given specific and predetermined facts. The interrogation method is used to collect the observable as well as the unobservable behaviour. There are several forms of interrogation according to several criteria, i.e.:

  • According to the form of communication: namely, in writing, orally or by telephone;
  • According to the scope: total survey and partial survey;
  • According to the content: submission or multi-tasking;
  • By frequency: one-time survey or multiple surveys;
  • By selecting the participants.

The written questionnaire deals with the sending of the questionnaire to the participants and they must return the questionnaire. This category also includes online questionnaires that are used more and more. These online questionnaires are more efficient, from both sides of the respondents and the researchers; For the researcher, there is the possibility to send these questionnaires comfortably to a large number of people and the participants can easily fill out the questionnaire online and return it electronically. One speaks thus about cost and time advantages. The oral interviews provide the information with the help of interviews, the telephone surveys taking place by means of a telephone conversation. Mainly closed questions or open questions, direct or indirect questions are used, and there may be several types of responses. Reviews of 1-5 scale. Experiment Method “Under an experiment, a repeatable experimental set-up is carried out under controlled, previously established environmental conditions, which allows empirical evaluation of hypotheses based on the measurement of effects of one or more independent factors on the respective variable (s) check.” Also for this market research method, there are several kinds namely field experiment or laboratory experiment. The distinction between these two forms is that the laboratory experiment takes place in a specially created, artificial and influential situation and that the field experiment takes place in a natural environment. However, there are some disadvantages of this method that have to do with the long-term impact. The method is actually short-term, one can measure the long-term effects difficult and there are numerous influencing factors also by the construction of an experiment when we talk about a laboratory experiment. Observation Method In the speciality literature, the observation is defined as follows: “Observation is understood as the systematic recording of sensible perceptions at the time of their occurrence carried out by persons or technical aids. Or, in the field of the observation of persons, all objective circumstances such as, for example, physical activities, behaviour and certain socio-demographic characteristics. ” There are various forms of observations as follows:

  • External and self-observation: own or foreign observations
  • Personal and impersonal observation
  • Participating and non-participating observations

Panel Method A panel is a special form of information production. Panel surveys are understood to be investigations which are carried out repeatedly (at regular intervals) on the same subject in the case of a given group of investigation units (persons, shopping centres, companies). In a few words, the panel is seen as continuous surveys in order to be able to investigate various behavioural changes in the course of time.  (Kotler & Armstrong, 2008) Basically, according to the nature of the test units, I distinguish between the consumption panel, the company panel and the commercial panel:

  • Consumption panels can be differentiated according to the target group under investigation. If a consumer panel is composed only of individuals, an individual panel is used. If the examination unit consists of a household, it is a household panel. The characteristic feature of both forms is the active participation of the panel participants. As data collection is usually carried out by means of a written survey, these must periodically fill out questionnaires or issue lists.
  • In the entrepreneur panel, a representative sample of companies or even of a single industry (e.g. textile panel) is regularly subjected to a survey on general assessments such as the consumption climate, investment climate or concrete development trends such as order backlog and sales development.
  • A trade panel is a special form of the entrepreneur panel. Trade panels can be built up at every stage of the distribution system and, depending on the object of investigation, have a broad range of tasks or even a very specific circumstance. In contrast to the consumer panel, the information in the commercial panel is obtained mainly by observation. The members or research units of the trade panel are composed of wholesale and retail companies. The panel information relates in particular to the development of goods movements and inventories of the trading businesses and products included in the panel.

With the aid of the multivariate statistical evaluation methods, a better evaluation can be recorded since there is a tendency for the growing number of individual information. The following methods are defined for: Factor analysis “examines variable quantities for which there are indications that they are dependent on common variables (so-called super-variables) which are not directly detectable. The main factor of the factor analysis is, therefore, the identification of these factors (super values) from a variable observed by Menger ” Cluster analysis “aims to bring a number of objects (persons, products, companies) according to their similarity into a natural order of distinguishing groups or classes called clusters. (…) Market segmentation is a typical application of cluster analysis in marketing research. ” Conjoint Analysis “Conjoint analysis is an empirical method that evaluates the benefits or preferences of test persons. (…) Rather, overall judgments are made. ” Regression analysis “one tries to determine the dependence of a variable on several independent variables (Groups, classes), as well as the explanation of this group membership by means of independent variables, which separate the groups as best as possible or characterise them “.

2.2. Defining the research methodology

This study represents a customer research, which is a part of market research focused on the consumer’s preferences and buying behaviour. In order to efficiently evaluate the factors influencing the consumer’s purchase decision regarding bottled water, there was used a mixed-approach research by combining a qualitative and a quantitative method. Early researchers of consumer behaviour, conducted their work starting with the economic assumption, stating that the consumers are rational decision makers, who are going to objectively select from the goods or services available to them, the ones who offer the biggest satisfaction at the lowest price.  Later on, Ernest Dichter started using Freudian psychoanalysis methods in order to evaluate the hidden motivations of consumers. His approach, called motivational research, was mostly qualitative. Nowadays, thanks to Dichter’s work,  in order to search profoundly in the consumers’ psychology there are used two different research methodologies. Thus, to efficiently study the consumer behaviour there is used a combination of both, a quantitative and a qualitative research. Frequently, findings of a qualitative study are evaluated empirically and used as groundwork for the conception of quantitative studies (Schiffman & Kanuk, 2007).

2.2.1 Qualitative research

The qualitative research was used as an exploratory research in order to have a better understanding of consumer’s consumer behaviour, including its motivations and opinions. Its aim is to offer an insight into the problem or subject and it helps to develop ideas for a potential quantitative research  (Bauer & Erdogan, 2012). For this research a semi-structured interview was used as data collection instrument for exploratory data, in order support the design of the primary research. Regarding the profiles of the participants, there were selected 3 males and 3 females, university students, but from different environments and fields of study, willing to participate in this study.

2.2.2 Quantitative research

The quantitative research has as aim to gather measurements and statistical, mathematical and numerical analysis of data through different data collection instrument, such as questionnaires or surveys. This method offers results that are easy to compare, summarise and generalise (Luthans, 2011). For this research was used a simple random sample, a probability sample method according to which there is an equal probability of choosing each unit from the population being examined while making the sample. Regarding the respondents, there was created the online questionnaire using Google Forms and it was shared on different Social Media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. There, the persons consuming bottled water were invited to answer the proposed questions.

2.3. Research objectives

The scope of this research paper isto identify the packaging factors influencing the consumers’ purchase decision of bottled water. The objectives of the researchare indicated hereinafter:  To determine the connection between packaging attributes and consumers’ purchase decision of bottled water. -To identify which packaging characteristics of bottled water are more influential for the purchase decision of consumers. -To identify the effect of each attribute of bottled water packaging on the consumers’ purchase decision.

2.4. Research approach

The author’s approach to research in this paper is exploratory. This means that through a broad literary review and through an in-depth market analysis, the author will see to comprehend which are the packaging elements of bottled water that influence the consumer buying behaviour, as opposed to testing a series of some pre-conceived hypothesis. The author had the choice to utilise a deductive approach in which there would be tested a series of hypothesis. Moreover, it was considered that this approach would restrain the research’s aim, by focusing excessively on the speculation and insufficient on every other factor that may impact the consumer buying behaviour

2.5. Execution of strategy

As illustrated in Figure 8, there are several steps in conducting this research. The first and one of the most important steps is defining the objectives of the research. Before any other thing, it is essential that the scope and the objectives of the research are established and well defined because they are the ones dictating the course of the paper. The next step is represented by the exploratory data collection and the evaluation of secondary data.  In order to prepare a relevant questionnaire for the already established objectives it was used a series of interviews as a qualitative method and there was collected and evaluated secondary data. There were selected 6 participants for a semi-structured interview, 3 males and 3 females, in order to get balanced opinions. The interviews were face to face and as for the interview type, it was used the discussion areas method and there were notes taken while the interview took place. The following step was represented by the design of the primary research study, using a questionnaire as a quantitative research method. As an instrument, it was used an online questionnaire using the Google Forms platform. Regarding the dissemination of the instrument, it was shared on different Social Media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. There, the persons consuming bottled water were invited to answer the proposed questions. This option was preferred because it is efficient, fast and free. Moreover, there was collected primary data, through the received answers from the participants. They were analysed and, finally, the conclusions were drawn. Figure 8: The process steps of the research  Source: (Luthans, 2011)

2.6. Limitations of the research

To this study there are several limitations. The most important limitation was the sample used in this study. The simple random sampling is a probability sample method according to who there is an equal probability of choosing each unit from the population being examined while making the sample. Nonetheless, out of the total sample of 103 respondents, the majority was female (64,3%). Supporting this idea, a study realised by ComScore in 2016 stated that “women are more engaged than men on the Internet and they are more likely to purchase” (Digital Media Insights, 2016). Furthermore, another limitation of the research was the fact that there is a language barrier between the research tools used and the consumers living in Romania. The language used in the questionnaire was English, due to the nature of the study and in order to analyse and verbatim highlight the answers. Also, another fact influencing the study was that university students were selected to participate in the initial interviews and their majority presence on different channels on Social Media, where the survey’s dissemination has taken place. Therefore, a majority of respondents (60,7%) were young consumers between 18 and 24 years old. The small size of the sample does not allow generalization of the results to all consumers. A bigger and more differentiated random sample should be obtained in future researches.

Chapter 3. Data analysis and findings

3.1. The questionnaire 3.2.  

Recommendations and conclusions


Annexed (1) – Interview guidelines

Semi-structured interview regarding bottled water packaging Hello! My name is Alina Palade and I am preparing my dissertation paper, part of my Master’s degree. I am studying Entrepreneurship and Business Administration at the Bucharest University of Economic Studies and the subject I am covering is about the packaging factors influencing the purchase decision. I would greatly appreciate if you take the time to answer few questions. It will not take long. Thank you so much for helping me out! Dates:  24.04.2017, 26.04.2017, 28.04.2016 Place: FABIZ building – Bucharest, Transilvania University – Brasov Duration: 20 min. Interview method: Areas of discussion, notes based on them Interview guidelines:

  • What are the main factors influencing your buying process?
  • Do you buy bottled water? Why?
  • What do you remember about the bottled water you bought?
  • What are your opinions, thoughts about the packaging?
  • Do you consider that packaging has any influence over the buying process of bottled water?
  • Do you think that the bottle shape or size is affecting your decision?
  • How important is the bottle’s colour? How is that influencing you?
  • What about the bottle’s design? Do you consider that a well design bottle is influencing your buying decision?


  • Colac Ioana – studying marketing
  • Manea Madalina – studying social work
  • Nanu Cristina – studying business administration
  • Catana Alexandru – studying topography
  • Marc Raul – studying robotics and engineering
  • Kyle Jackson – studying management

Annexed (2) – Questionnaire

“The impact of packaging on consumers’ purchase decision” Hello! My name is Alina Palade and I am preparing my dissertation paper, part of my Master’s degree. I am studying Entrepreneurship and Business Administration at the Bucharest University of Economic Studies and the subject I am covering is about the packaging factors influencing the purchase decision. I would greatly appreciate if you take the time to answer few questions. It will take about 10 minutes max. Thank you so much for helping me out! * Required 1.PNG 2.PNG 3.PNG 4.PNG5.PNG6.PNG7.PNG8.PNG

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