5 Studies That Will Change Your Product Packaging

Remember the old quote, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover?”   All of us learned that at some time in our lives.  But to be honest, when marketing is concerned…we do judge items by their cover, their wrapping, their outside colors–all the time.

There is no secret that product packaging is both important and can be very expensive. It’s been projected that some companies will actually spend three times more on packaging than on the product inside. Because of its importance, packaging and consumer perception has become a huge topic of research among psychologists, neurologists and marketing scientists. The results of some of the studies may alter the way you do your product packaging.

Product Over Slogan

In the journal article “Packaging as Brand Communication,” the impact of advertising slogans and product display were compared to consumer’s brand beliefs. What they found was that slogans did very little to sway the customers’ preferences but the way that the product is displayed in the packaging was very important. A great example of product display packaging is Festina’s water-resistant watches. The company created a simple white package with their name and descriptive slogan telling the customer that the watch is engineered for water. The bag has a clear window and is filled with water, in which the watch gently floats.

Packaging and Quality

The container of the product directly influences the consumer’s impression of the quality of the product. At least this is what research out of the National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan is showing. Bold designs with a little artistic flair were found to reflect higher product quality. This was especially true for food products. In recent years, fast food icon McDonald’s took a page from this concept and redesigned all of its packaging. From the logo driven schemes of three decades previous, they switched to a clean, large font design that matches their introduction of higher quality, healthier food lines.

Taste With Your Eyes

A study published in the journal of Food Quality and Preference found that the color of the packaging changed the perception of taste in the customer. This somewhat “Seussian” study reminds us that we do not like green eggs. The color of the packaging needs to match the desired taste of the product. Take Captain Morgan’s new product, Cannon Blast, for example. Both the name and the description tell the viewer that there is power behind the taste. To match this, Captain Morgan has packaged it in a cannonball slate bottle that will prime the drinker to enjoy the bold flavor.

The Impulsive Brain

Under functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machines, the brain looking at attractive, bold packaging lit up in areas associated with impulse buying. The flip side was also true. Ugly packaging triggered the parts of the brain related to negative emotion. In short, ugly packaging makes us sad and pretty packaging is the stuff of impulse buying. From a true nutrition standpoint, it’s rare that one needs cookies–although most people would disagree– so Thelma’s cookies come in an adorable box shaped like an oven to stimulate the impulse buying centers of the brain.

Right Side Up

The direction of the packaging actually makes a difference in purchasing behavior. A study looking at product orientation in packaging found that there are distinct, systemic beliefs in how an item should be oriented. For example, bottles are almost always packaged standing up even though modern manufacturing assures a tight seal and no leakage. The new packaging for Air Nikes may be a clever air-filled bag, but the shoe is still sole side down and toe to the front.


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