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Article Version


Publication Date



Purpose: This paper aims to investigate the role of showcasing a product with its cast shadow (formed in the ad’s background by the advertised product) on consumer product perceptions.

Design/methodology/approach: Three experimentally designed studies, incorporating two product categories, demonstrate the impact of visual presentation of a product with its shadow on consumer evaluations. A total of 203 participants (MTurkers, and student respondents at a southern university) provided data for these studies through questionnaires (online as well as paper-pencil formats).

Findings: Findings reveal that the presence of a product’s cast shadow in the ad frame increases its visual acuity, which in turn enhances its luxury perceptions. Downstream, a product shadow’s presence positively impacts its overall evaluations, through enhanced product luxury perceptions. Also, consumers with high Centrality of Visual Product Aesthetics (CVPA) demonstrate a stronger liking for such product presentations.

Research limitations/implications: The current findings not only demonstrate the positive impact of product shadows on consumer perceptions, but also enrich the luxury and aesthetics literature streams.

Practical implications: Advertisers often subjectively use product shadows as stylistic tools in marketing communications. This research offers some practical guidelines to use shadows in fostering product luxury perceptions and better target aesthetically-sensitive consumers.

Originality/value: Advertising research suggests that visual styling and presentation of products significantly impacts consumer perceptions. However, the role of product shadows has not yet been empirically examined. This paper makes an attempt to test whether and how product shadows impact consumer perceptions.


Copyright 2016 Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The author post-print has been archived here with permission from the copyright holder.

Publication Title

Journal of Consumer Marketing

Published Citation

Sharma, Nazuk. "Luxury implications of showcasing a product with its “cast” shadow." Journal of Consumer Marketing 33, no. 7 (2016): 507-516.



Peer Reviewed