Just what is the power of packaging? We may like to think we’re immune to its appeal, but our packaging experiment reveals the design tactics that persuade you to buy and even convince you food tastes better.
The continuing recession means that supermarkets have to compete even harder for your custom.
We’ve talked about how they can use psychological tricks in the store layout to make us spend more money.
But another way supermarkets do this is by using carefully designed packaging to influence customers’ perceptions of their products.
We wanted to find out whether supermarket food packaging actually makes a difference beyond just tempting you to put it in your basket – could it change your perception of how something tastes?
Putting food packets under the microscope
So, to test just how persuasive packaging can be, we asked two groups of people to taste chocolate chip cookies from the premium, standard and budget ranges available at Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. But there was a twist – one group tasted and rated the cookies without seeing any of the packaging, whereas the other group were shown the packets beforehand.
Interestingly, the group that saw the packaging first rated the cookies as being tastier and scored them more highly overall (we also tested on appearance, smell and texture) than the group that just saw the cookies. Surprisingly, the group that ate the products blind still scored the cookies in the right order of premium, standard and budget.
So, our experiment shows that there’s certainly more to packaging than meets the eye – the packaging did improve the testers’ perception of the actual product. Do these findings surprise you, or are they what you would expect?
And have you ever been lured in by gorgeous packaging only to find that the product didn’t live up to what it said on the tin?