People instinctively and universally believe that high-quality products are higher priced. But the first signal of quality is the quality of the packaging itself.
Walmart's no-frills packaging for its Great Value brand clearly says "low price".
But they've recently started using packaging that mirrors the conventions of category leaders.
Shoppers can't help but believe the product is of better quality in this nicer package. The question is, will they also believe that the price has gone up?
Walgreens is similarly exploring the semiotics of value: their version of the cheddar snack cracker is 'generic-enough' but tries to add a bit of design flair.
And Aldi fills the store with look-alike packaging with fictional brand names.
Sometimes, to let people know you're a bargain product, you need bargain-looking packaging.
As Apicius said, "The first taste is always with the eyes."
(Image sources: Ethan Decker, Walgreens.com)