Tasteful Design: How Food Packaging Impacts Flavor

December 17, 2015

We don’t need to know terms like “multi-sensory integration,” “auditory cue modification” or “olfactory receptors” to get by in our daily lives. Most of us are more focused on not walking into a light post while texting. Yet, the new frontier of food packaging is being forged by researchers who throw around (and understand) terms like that.

Well, we have seen all of the Transformers movies several times over. Take that, science!

A recent The New Yorker article, “Accounting for Taste,” profiles studies in how all five senses can drastically impact our experience with food and food packaging. For example, the article states,

[Charles Spence, professor of experimental psychology at Oxford] has found that a strawberry-flavored mousse tastes ten per cent sweeter when served from a white container rather than a black one; that coffee tastes nearly twice as intense but only two-thirds as sweet when it is drunk from a white mug rather than a clear glass one; that adding two and a half ounces to the weight of a plastic yogurt container makes the yogurt seem about twenty-five per cent more filling, and that bittersweet toffee tastes ten per cent more bitter if it is eaten while you’re listening to low-pitched music.

The possibilities of this kind of research goes beyond simple sales numbers. Food package designers can simulate the flavors that fall into a “too much of a good thing can be bad for you” category like saltiness and sweetness while reducing the actual salt and sugar content.  

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 9.22.16 AMSo the next time you’re shopping or evaluating your packaging, think about how all consumer senses interact with the product. Does the sound of the package being opened reinforce the idea of freshness? What about package windows – like the kind on a package we designed for Poindexter Nuts that shows the deliciousness that awaits them? Does the size of packaging say something about your brand?

Greg Feinberg, President of Aisle 9, a Los Angeles-based product development and marketing firm and Ernest partner says “Consumers are trained to look for certain elements on food packaging today.” Whether they are conscious of these elements is another story, and packaging needs to impact all areas of the mind at the point of sale.

Create an experience with packaging. It is the first and last thing consumers will touch when they buy your product. That’s why you need a partner like Ernest Packaging Solutions to design a package with all materials and creativity working together in harmony. Contact us today to find out how we can help make your packaging an experience!