How packaging convinces you food tastes betterWhich? research reveals effects of food packaging

20 August 2012

Chocolate chip cookie

Which? reveals shoppers find cookies tastier if they see the packaging first

Supermarket food packaging doesn't just tempt you into putting it in your basket - new Which? research reveals that the packaging actually increases how tasty you perceive a product to be.

To test the power of packaging, we asked two groups of people to taste and rate the chocolate chip cookies from the premium, standard and budget ranges available at Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. One group was given the cookies with their packaging and one group tasted the cookies without.

The group that saw the packaging rated all the cookies significantly higher overall, and, crucially, for taste. Both groups ranked the cookies in order of price based on taste and appearance alone, but our test suggests that the packaging made all the cookies seem tastier.

Which? members can read the full article 'Supermarket packaging tactics exposed' online in the September issue of Which?. If you're not already a subscriber, try a £1 trial to Which? for instant access to our online and magazine reviews and investigations.

Packaging tactics exposed

Tesco Gravy

The September issue of Which? explores the design of supermarket packaging

To further unearth the tactics behind supermarket food packaging, we also asked an expert panel to analyse the design of some popular supermarket own brand ranges. Our panel found that far from luring you into parting with your cash, on the outside some budget range products may even be designed to put you off, so you’ll choose a pricier alternative instead.

But with lots of cheaper products, our experts felt the continuing recession means more effort is now being put into making these products more alluring. That's because tightened budgets mean these products have become more mainstream than they used to be.

Luxury food, luxury packaging

Meanwhile, packaging designed to imply a superior product tries to engage your senses. It usually has a matte rather than shiny finish, or a mixture of textures, and embossing is also common.

Designers pay more attention to how the different elements of the packaging work together. The writing will be more descriptive and considered and the colouring more subtle.

Luxury products also often feature clear windows, so you can see the product inside to evoke a sense that the product has nothing to hide.

Smarter shopping

Which? shopping expert Matt Clear says: 'The continuing recession means that supermarkets have to compete even harder for your custom. One of the ways they do this is by using carefully designed packaging to influence customers’ perceptions of their products.

'With budgets being squeezed, savvy shopping means decoding supermarkets’ packaging.'

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