Nav: Home

In food packaging, color matters

November 04, 2016

The aesthetics of food packaging is geared to the assumptions people make about the product within. This research study makes clear that the color of packaging is an important, but tricky, element.

In "Light and Pale Colors in Food Packaging: When Does This Package Cue Signal Superior Healthiness or Inferior Taste?" Marketing Professors Robert Mai, Claudia Symmank, and Berenike Seeberg-Elverfeldt of Kiel University (Claudia Symmank is also research associate at the Technical University of Dresden) tested consumers' reactions to find out if they associated pale packaging with healthy choices or poor taste and found that it wasn't an either/or situation.

For example, in one of six studies, the authors packaged the same herbed cream cheese in two different colors: light green and regular green. A group of 179 participants was shown the package but not given an opportunity to taste the contents. In a second round, they could also taste it. Study participants who were not particularly health-conscious viewed the light packaging as containing a product that might be healthy but they assumed from the light-colored package it was also less tasty. When there was no actual tasting involved - for instance, as when shoppers scan supermarket shelves - impressions were more significant. In this situation, the more health-conscious participants paid less attention to the package color. When tasting was permitted, the package's light color became a meaningful cue for health-aware individuals, but not for those less concerned about their health.

The authors explain, "Unlike taste, healthiness is a credence quality. Since human abilities are too limited to distinguish more or less healthy products by taste...healthiness evaluations were guided by package color even after the consumers had tried the product."

Other studies teased out that color as a tool has the potential to backfire, because, apart from health inferences, light tones tend to signify a lack of tastiness. Detrimental taste inferences are primarily triggered when consumers are unable to taste, making extrinsic cues such as package color particularly important, the authors point out: "Thus, when selling healthy foods to less health-aware shoppers, pale packages can have a deterrent effect. Employing darker tones could be one way to compensate for a perceived taste decrease."
-end-


Journal of Retailing at New York University

Related Taste Articles:

Obesity tied to weakened response to taste
Obesity is connected with a reduced response to taste, according to a new study featuring faculty at Binghamton University, State of University of New York.
Virtual reality takes a leap into taste
optoPAD is a newly developed system for creating virtual taste realities.
Source of citrus' sour taste is identified
A team of researchers, including two from the University of California, Riverside, has identified the genes responsible for the hallmark sour taste of many citrus fruits.
So close, rats can almost taste it
A subset of neurons in the hippocampus respond to both place and taste, according to research in male rats published in JNeurosci.
A taste for fat may have made us human, says study
A new paper argues that early human ancestors acquired a taste for fat long before they began hunting for meat by scavenging marrow from the skeletal remains of large animals.
Making cheese & co. taste better
Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology, and the University of Hohenheim have developed a new methodical approach.
Saliva could influence taste preferences
Saliva is crucial for tasting and digesting food. But scientists have now found that saliva could also be part of a feedback loop that influences how food tastes to people -- and by extension, what foods they're willing to eat.
The origin of off-taste in onions
Chopping onions is usually associated with watery and stinging eyes.
What does the koala genome tell us about the taste of eucalyptus?
Sequencing of the koala genome has revealed some interesting qualities about these marsupials on their sense of taste.
How obesity dulls the sense of taste
Previous studies have indicated that weight gain can reduce one's sensitivity to the taste of food.
More Taste News and Taste Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.