5/9/2017 1:23 PM
What makes one product more alluring than another? Does the quality of the product primarily drive sales or can more alluring packaging alter a customer’s decision? These are questions that every producer considers before sending their product to market. A study conducted by Pack InSight at Clemson University set out to answer these questions by incorporating state of the art technology in a familiar environment.
Clemson researchers simulated a realistic shopping experience for 70 participants ranging from 22 to 65 years old. The primary focus of the shopping simulation was a multi-tiered shelf containing multiple selections of chocolate (like ones found in grocery stores). Two types of chocolate were presented on these shelves: the control group, chocolates with no “enhancements” to their packaging, and the stimuli, chocolates with laminated or foiled packaging. Before entering the simulated supermarket, “shoppers” were fitted with state of the art eye tracking glasses that recorded the participant’s eye movement and line of site. With these special eye glasses, researchers could track the duration and number of times that participants looked at each product. Participants were given a list of items to purchase within the simulated supermarket. Meanwhile, researchers recorded eye movement as well as which product each participant ultimately chose. Before leaving, the participants were given an exit interview to record their subjective motives for each purchase decision.
Heat map of the participants’ aggregate total fixation duration (TFD). Green indicates shortest fixation time; red indicates the longest fixation period
The study found that participants looked more often, and for significantly longer periods of time at the chocolates in the foiled and laminated packages than the control group. The enhanced packaging not only attracted more attention from the participants but resulting in the enhanced product being purchased more frequently. This was seen most dramatically in the foil packaged chocolates being purchased 23% more often than the control group. The chocolates in the laminated packaging only did marginally better than the non-enhanced counterpart. They were purchased 6% more often than their counterpart.
The post-purchase interview reinforced the hypothesis that shelf allure cognitively equated to quality. When asked about why those surveyed chose the product in the enhanced package, answers included the statements: “The foil makes it look fancier.” and “The gold foil portrays a more high-end product.” Most responded with similar statements equating higher quality products to the foil and laminate packaged products.
The question then becomes: do the results of this experiment transcend across product lines? It may sound like a simple answer but “you only get one chance to make a first impression” still holds true. Supermarkets are over saturated with similar products and are extremely competitive places where products that don't stand out don't get sold. Enhancing a product’s packaging is a value add that simply cannot be ignored.
The study featured in this article can be found at:
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