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.