Transparent packaging for food is reportedly more attractive to
consumers than opaque food containers, but consumers tend to shift
away from healthy products in open-window packages.
The observations are made by Steve Herlehy,account executive at
Plastic Suppliers, commenting on a MarketWatch study, published in
the American Marketing Association's Journal of Marketing.
"While many may think the quality and type of food is what draws
us to a certain product, the truth is our minds are heavily
influenced by the design and packaging that a consumable may come
in," said Herlehy.
TV snack food
As part of the study, a number of people were placed in a common
snacking environment: in front of the television, where 70% of all
snacks are consumed.
Researchers told the subjects they would be evaluating
advertisements that ran during episodes of the popular sitcomThe
Office. Participants were provided with snack foods including nuts,
cookies, M&Ms, Cheerios and Froot Loops to munch on while they
Some foods were offered in transparent bags, while others in
opaque bags. The focus of the study was on the food, not the
commercials and the group organizers weighed and counted the
contents of the bags before handing them out.
While the researchers, led by Professors Xiaoyan Deng of Ohio
State University's Fisher College of Business and Raji Srinivasan
of McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas in Austin
only measured food consumption and not emotional response.
According to MarketWatch, the researchers found the transparency
of food packaging influences snacking habits in different ways
depending on the size, visual appeal and healthiness of the food it
One finding was that participants ate less large, visually
appealing snack foods (such as cookies) from transparent packages
than they did from opaque ones.
It also found small foods like M&Ms were more appealing in
clear packaging - participants ate 58% more of the colorful candies
from the transparent bags than they did from the opaque bag.
Herlehy added, despite the study being counter-intuitive at some
points, including the research's observation that consumers tend to
shift away from healthy products in transparent packages - there
are valid points that can impact marketing decisions.
For instance, the article suggests, 'Clear bags make it easier
to be tempted by tasty-looking foods, but they also reveal how much
you're about to eat. To increase sales, retailers should offer
small foods in transparent packages and large foods and vegetables
in opaque containers.'
"It will be very interesting to see how manufacturers and
marketers use this information, which will no doubt impact their
reliance on the flexible packaging industry," said Herlehy.
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