Hanging Tags and Consumer Behavior

Consumers only see about 150 of the more than 10,000 products on the average grocery store’s shelves. Consumers engage with each product they see for seven seconds or less—with many products receiving less than one full second of consumer attention. With these facts in mind, it is fairly safe to say that methods of attracting consumer attention to products are more important than ever.1 In an effort to compete in an ever-growing marketplace, hang tags are sometimes used to direct customer attention to a particular product.

Within the fast-moving consumer goods industry, tags are often used as a marketing tool to promote special offers, launch new products, and enhance a brand’s identity. This article discusses what hang tags are, what they can be used for, and how they should look. Store owners, brand managers, planogram designers, and others involved in marketing products can use this information to improve their efforts to capture consumer attention and encourage consumers to purchase their products. Small business owners, entrepreneurs, and those who sell at local or online marketplaces can even benefit from knowing about hangtags. They are a relatively inexpensive marketing tool that can be easily produced by hand in small quantities or mass-produced by a professional printer.


For most retail grocery product lines, the packaging is first and foremost, a sales promotion tool.2 A consumer’s buying behavior is stimulated by the package quality, color, text, graphics, and other packaging characteristics. Packaging can increase consumer attentiveness toward a specific brand, increase its image, and stimulate consumer interest in the product.3,4 Packaging is ultimately able to convey distinct value about products and act as an instrument to help consumers choose one particular product from a wide range of similar products.5,6

Package design attracts consumer attention while establishing a brand’s image, communicating product benefits, and acting as a marketing tool.4,7,8 Companies must create a comprehensive package for their product that commands attention.9 On-pack promotions are one tool that can be used to make shopping exciting.10,11 Promotions may include premiums, coupons, samples, and refund offers in or on product packages to help them stand out and break through the visual clutter on store shelves.10 The use of stand-out items on packages is especially important when the consumer has little time to consider the other aspects of the product.12 Buying behaviors can be motivated by various elements, including (but not limited to) coupons, buy-one-get-one-free offers, and free samples.13 Package-delivered promotions are also relatively inexpensive when compared to consumer promotions offered in advertisements or direct mail campaigns.10

What Are Hang Tags?

At its most basic, a hang tag (sometimes called a swing tag14) is simply a label attached to a product by some means other than a sticky adhesive, string, ribbon, elastic cord, and even large holes for fitting over the neck of a wine bottle are common means of placing a hang tag on a product (figures 1 and 2). They can be mere slips of paper or cardstock that provide garment care instructions, product prices, brand logos, and other such information, but they have the potential to be so much more.15 In addition to providing a space for placing brand information, hang tags also help one product stand out over others. They provide something different from the surrounding products to attract customer attention and encourage them to investigate the product more closely, which can lead to sales.16,17 The writers at Ottowa Life Magazine point out that “it may seem surprising that such a small piece of material could be so important but hang tags offer a unique way of advertising your product in retail. If a product line next to yours is without tags, then you are already one step ahead.”14

Spray bottles with hang tags on a shelf.

Figure 1. Hang tags fixed on insect spray bottles with holes that fit over the cap. Image credit: Andrew Hurley, Clemson University.

Shampoo bottles with hang tags on a shelf.

Figure 2. Hang tags fixed on shampoo bottles with an elastic cord. Image credit: Andrew Hurley, Clemson University.

What Can Be on a Hang Tag?

A hang tag can provide any type of information necessary to persuade a consumer to purchase the product. One of the most important things to remember is that they represent your brand,17 so anything included on a hang tag should reflect your brand in a positive light. Hang tags are a way to connect with your customers,15,17 and they can play a vital role in attracting customer attention and motivating the decision to purchase an item,14,17 It is important to understand your customers and produce hang tags that will appeal to your target audience.17

Thinking of hang tags as a way to directly communicate with your target audience can help you choose what you will print on your hang tag. While the possibilities are endless, here is a list of ideas to get you started:

  • Product information15: beyond basic size and pricing, share how an individual product came to be, describe the hard work and dedication that goes into the creation of a particular item, provide insight into the product’s unique features, state how to care for the product.
  • Sustainability14: state what you are doing to help reduce your carbon footprint, explain how you have reduced emissions or improved the use of resources, detail how you’re helping a local economy by hiring more people, planting trees, or contributing to recycling efforts.
  • Promotions: use hang tags to provide recipes, coupons (figure 3), or discount codes,14,16 post a QR code or advertise your social media accounts to encourage customers to join mailing lists, visit the product website, or share pictures of the product being used.14
  • Beyond Basic Info: share the story of the company history, provide the story of the product creator, provide an instruction manual,15 or even just say “thank you” to the customers who have purchased your product for many years.15

This is merely a list of possibilities and is by no means exhaustive. Essentially, anything you want to share with your customers beyond the basic product label can be done using a hang tag.15

What Should a Hang Tag Look Like?

Any marketing material provides insight into your company’s image, and a hang tag is no different. Create or consult your style guide to ensure you adhere to the colors, images, typefaces, and other factors you use to maintain your brand identity. You want your hang tags to stand out on the shelf,15 but they need to be consistent with your brand’s image.

Your target audience should also play a role in designing your hang tag. The hang tag should appeal to them in order to capture their attention. A hang tag for children is likely to be colorful and informal, while a hang tag for upscale products will probably have a more luxurious appearance.15 The designers at, a company that designs customized hang tags, offer the following advice when designing a hang tag16:

  • Be consistent: Ensure you are sticking to the branding guidelines you have set up for your company. If you have not established a style guide, you should do so to maintain consistency.
  • Keep it simple: Hang tags are small. Too much information can turn away a customer. Try to stick with no more than three colors and no more than two different fonts and keep the fonts no smaller than 7pt for legibility.
  • Stand out in a positive way: Ensure your hang tag complements the product. You don’t want it to capture attention because it is poorly designed or doesn’t match your brand’s image.
  • Leave room for the hole: This may seem obvious, but it is a detail that can be easily overlooked. Creating a hang tag without allowing space for the hole can cause words to be cut out and could make your brand seem careless or that they don’t value the product.

Do Hang Tags Really Work?

In a study conducted by the authors, shoppers sometimes noticed products with hang tags before those without hang tags. Interestingly, they noticed the hang tags more if only a few of the products were tagged, suggesting that the lack of uniformity of the products on display possibly caught their attention as well. Those who participated in the study were asked if tags affected their decision to purchase an item. Their responses were largely positive or neutral, suggesting that hang tags influence the decision to purchase a product. Many participants said that a tagged product would be more compelling to purchase if the tag provided added value, such as a coupon. Some participants noted that hang tags are not always aesthetically pleasing because they can cover up important information on the package.


Hang tags can be a simple, inexpensive, yet very effective way to capture customer attention and encourage them to purchase a particular product. Hang tags can convey a wide variety of information about a product, and their message should be adapted to the target audience to appeal to those most likely to purchase the product. Because hang tags are small, special consideration should be taken in their design, using the minimal space to maximum advantage. One design consideration noted by participants in a study is that hang tags can get in the way of the original package design, which is something to consider when designing a hang tag.

In that same study, participants noted that they preferred hang tags that offered monetary incentives such as coupons, so it might be a good idea to consider offering such an incentive along with other information such as the company or product history or a brand’s sustainability pledge. They also paid more attention to tagged products when not all products were tagged. The side-by-side increase in attention reveals that randomly tagging products versus every product would be a logical strategy when considering this promotional medium. Store owners, marketers, and anyone involved in selling a product can use this information to put hanging tags on just a few of a particular product knowing that customers will be more likely to see it than if none or all of that product had tags.

References Cited

  1. Consumer Reports. What to do when there are too many product choices on the store shelves? Supermarket Product Choices – Consumer Reports Magazine. 2014 Jan [accessed 2016 Dec 13].
  2. Ahmed R, Parmar V, Amin M. Impact of product packaging on consumer’s buying behavior. European Journal of Scientific Research. 2014;122(2):125–134. doi:10.13140/2.1.2343.4885.
  3. Rundh B. The multi-faceted dimension of packaging: Marketing logistic or marketing tool? British Food Journal. 2005;107(9):670–684. doi:10.1108/00070700510615053.
  4. Prendergast G, Pitt L. Packaging, marketing, logistics and the environment: are there trade‐offs? International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management. 1996;26(6):60–72. doi:10.1108/09600039610125206.
  5. Underwood RL, Klein NM, Burke RR. Packaging communication: attentional effects of product imagery. Journal of Product & Brand Management. 2001;10(7):403–422. doi:10.1108/10610420110410531.
  6. Silayoi P, Speece M. The importance of packaging attributes: a conjoint analysis approach. European Journal of Marketing. 2007;41(11/12):1495–1517. doi:10.1108/03090560710821279.
  7. Rundh B. Packaging design: creating competitive advantage with product packaging. British Food Journal. 2009;111(9):988–1002. doi:10.1108/00070700910992880.
  8. Löfgren M. Winning at the first and second moments of truth: an exploratory study. Managing Service Quality: An International Journal. 2005;15(1):102–115. doi:10.1108/09604520510575290.
  9. Gofman A, Moskowitz HR, Fyrbjork J, Moskowitz D, Mets T. Extending rule developing experimentation to perception of food packages with eye tracking. The Open Food Science Journal. 2009;3(1).
  10. Quelch J, Cannon-Bonventre K. Better marketing at the point of purchase. Harvard Business Review. 1983 Nov 1 [accessed 2022 Apr 13].
  11. Ahmed R, Ahmad N, Parmar V, Khoso I. Role of Packaging and Labeling on Pakistani Consumers Purchase Decisions. European Scientific Journal. 2014;10(16):464–473.
  12. Hurley R, Holmes J, Tonkin C, Cooksey K, Rice J. The effect of decorative foil stamping on consumer attention. Journal of Applied Packaging Research. 2016;8(2).
  13. Mughal A, Mehmood A, Mohi-ud-deen A, Ahmad B. The impact of promotional tools on consumer buying behavior: a study from Pakistan. Journal of Public Administration and Governance. 2014;4(3):402–414. doi:10.5296/jpag.v4i3.6680.
  14. OLM. How your business could be overlooking the importance of hang tags. Ottawa Life Magazine. 2021 Jun 3 [accessed 2022 Jun 17].
  15. Mandic M. 3 key benefits of having custom hang tags. Newprint. 2021 Apr 5 [accessed 2022 Jun 17].
  16. Hang Tags Marketing. Hang Tag Printing Services & Marketing Tips | 2022 [accessed 2022 Jun 17].
  17. Davis E. Why are hang tags still important for businesses? 4OVER4.COM. 2020 Apr 28 [accessed 2022 Jun 17].

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