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Packaging a punch

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Packaging a punch

We consumers are more susceptible to the look of food packaging than we might like to think.

Dr Rob Hamlin (Department of Marketing) has developed what he describes as a reliable, simple and easily administered test for measuring the impact of package graphic designs on consumer choice that replaces opinion with quantifiable output.

Hamlin explains that the experimental technique allows consumer groups to compare several proposed graphic designs for the same product, both with one another, and with their immediate competitors. He says that the key is not to ask people directly about the design.

“If you ask someone to report their feelings about a design, you will get a cognitive response that is different from the response to the design at the point of sale, which determines whether something is bought. It makes reported consumer response to a design useless.”

He says that they, instead, keep showing consumer groups pairs of products and ask them which one they would buy, while subtly changing the designs, to find out which design is best.

Hamlin applied the technique to honey and to beer, but believes that it would also be valid for testing the graphic design of non-food product packaging.

He says that the test results show that graphic design has a massive impact on consumer choice and can make or break a product: something he says the food industry, and graphic designers themselves, are slow to appreciate.

Hamlin’s findings have been published in the British Food Journal.

Photo: Graham Warman