Decisive factor for packaging designers in the food industry. The added value of packaging goes far beyond purely protecting the packed goods. Various studies have recently shown that the “outer skin” can also change taste perception. In these studies test persons perceived an identical dish presented in differently designed packaging as being different – their associations, however, followed the same pattern. Both colours and materials are therefore important factors deciding on how sweet or salty, stale or aromatic food and beverages taste.
Red = sweet, blue = salty
Corresponding experiments were carried out by an agency specialised in multi-sensory integration and by British scientists and psychologists from “Euromonitor International” and Oxford University, to name but a few. All studies conducted on the impact of packaging characteristics on human taste buds arrive not only at the same result in general but also when it comes to the details. The results show how a change in packaging affects the way the goods are perceived and even reveal that specific weights and colours always trigger the same emotions.
The heavier the pot containing the yoghurt, the more intense (13%), saturating and creamy (25%) the contents taste, people say. Plain yoghurt eaten with a blue spoon tastes saltier.
A plate full of strawberry mousse
If strawberry mousse is served on a white plate it appears to be more aromatic (15%) as well as sweeter (10%) than on a black plate.
Salty popcorn in a red bowl is still perceived as sweet by test respondents. In a blue bowl, however, sweet popcorn tasted salty.
The colour summary
Blue = sea = salty Red = ripe = sweet White = neutral, less tasty
The chocolate specialty 'Maltesers' by Mars Inc. succeeded in increasing product sales by nearly 50% since the launch of its red packaging in 2010. With the introduction of white cans for their refreshment drinks, in contrast to this, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi posted declining sales figure for its campaign to save the polar bear and its “Diät Twist”, respectively.
Even slogans, design and other printed packaging elements have an impact on consumers’ taste perception. And the material also influences the way product properties are perceived. Proving particularly high-impact here are visual elements while names and claims also trigger subjective impressions.
And despite identical ingredients and manufacturing processes the majority of consumers polled perceived Coca-Cola from a can as being different from Coke in a bottle. It is true that in isolated cases aroma can be lost after prolonged storage in some materials such as plastic. Studies have shown without a doubt, however, that the metal of the can cannot rub off on the beverage taste because of its varnish. Experts attribute shoppers’ subjective feeling to their expectations and these are high. This also applies to acoustic stimuli. For potato crisps both the sound of opening the sachet and of biting into the crisp play a crucial role in the assessment of the taste.