Parallel session

Colouring perception, emphasising attractiveness through packaging

Time session: 15.55 - 16.30

Who's the speaker?

  • Name
    Dr. Irene Tijssen
  • Title
    PhD
Biography

Irene Tijssen was born on November 9th 1987 in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. After completing secondary school at Plein College Bisschop Bekkers in Eindhoven, she moved to Wageningen to start her Bachelor’s (Bsc) programme in Nutrition and Health at Wageningen University & Research. During her Bachelor’s she took a year of studying to be a full-time financial manager of student association W.S.V. Ceres. She also completed a minor in Education and taught Biology classes in a local secondary school. After finishing her Bachelor’s she enrolled in the Master’s (MSc) specialization Sensory Science, a collaborative MSc programme of Wageningen University & Research and Copenhagen University. As part of this MSc programme she studied in Copenhagen for six months to attend several courses. After her MSc thesis on Temporal Dominance of Sensations and Emotions she completed her internship at PepsiCo International in Leicester, UK where she looked into the use of implicit facial expression software when evaluating food products. In 2014, after completing her MSc, she was appointed as a PhD candidate at Wageningen University & Research in the chair group of Sensory Science and Eating Behaviour. Her PhD research focussed on the abilities of package aspects, such as colour, to emphasize a product’s attractiveness, thereby making healthier foods more attractive and an easier choice. Irene’s research was part of the NUDGIS project. The NUDGIS project examined the effectiveness of nudges, defined as subtle rearrangements of the choice context, to gently suggest healthier food choices. The program aimed to formulate rules to design effective intervention strategies to help make healthy food choices easy and preferred food choices. During her PhD project, Irene was also an MRI technician involved in neuromarketing research. Next to this she attended several (inter)national conferences and courses and was involved in teaching activities. She supervised BSc and MSc students in their thesis projects. Furthermore Irene was a member of the organising committee of the PhD study tour to the East Coast of the USA in 2015. She won an award (by NWO) for the best Research Pitch in 2015 as well as a travel award for the Pangborn Sensory Science symposium in 2017. In 2018, she was selected for the 24th Essentials programme of the European Nutritional Leadership Platform (ENLP). September 21st she defended her PhD thesis and is currently open to new opportunities to work in the field of sensory and consumer science. She inspires to make healthy food attractive and preferred for everyone. By using insights from sensory and consumer research she aims to developing innovative and applicable solutions in order to understand highly complex health related questions in everyday life.

Colouring perception, emphasising attractiveness through packaging

A product’s attractiveness is an important driver in food preferences, choices and consumption behaviour. Inherently, healthier food products (i.e., ‘light’, sugar- or fat-reduced) are often perceived as less attractive, mainly in terms of liking, macronutrients, and sensory properties. Thus, healthier products are at a ‘sensory disadvantage’ and may be seen as less rewarding compared to their regular counterparts. Making healthier products more attractive could bridge this gap to help overcome the perceived or inferred shortcomings of healthier products. Extrinsic information such as package colour can influence our product expectations and perception, and could be an effective way to enhance the attractiveness of healthier products.


The research presented here explored the effectiveness of package design and package colour aspects to make healthier food products more attractive. The influence of package design and colour aspects on product expectations, associations and evaluation upon tasting, both initially as over repeated encounters, were studied using questionnaires, sensory tests and implicit association tests (IATs). The underlying brain mechanisms and cognitive processes underlying these effects were investigated using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).


Packaging healthier foods in warmer, more saturated package colours (i.e., more vibrantly coloured) may render them more flavourful, more attractive and more rewarding. Packaging healthier products in package designs that emphasize attractiveness rather than healthiness, can be a strategy to enhance attractiveness of the product.

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