Clear Packaging May Influence How Much (or How Little) You Eat

How much you eat may be influenced by more than just hunger. According to a recent study published in the American Marketing Association’s Journal of Marketing, clear packaging has a significant impact on how much or how little you consume of the food product inside. Providing insight into human behavior, the results of this study were rather surprising.

Focused on transparent packaging for snack foods, professors at the Fisher College of Business and McCombs School of Business gathered subjects and placed them in the prime snack food environment: in front of a television. Subjects believed they were there to evaluate television commercials and were given snacks in either transparent or opaque bags while watching them. What resulted was clear, transparent packaging influenced their snacking habits depending on the size, visual appeal, and healthiness of the food product inside.

Study Shows Clear Results

After reviewing each subject’s leftovers, it was clear that the appearance of the food product inside transparent packaging influenced how much they ate. Large, visually appealing foods, such as cookies, were consumed less in transparent packaging than when in opaque packaging. On the other hand, smaller, visually appealing foods, such as M&Ms, were consumed much more when eaten from transparent bags than when from opaque bags.

More surprising, however, was the effect of clear packaging on healthy food consumption. Subjects ate fewer baby carrots when eating from a transparent bag than when eating from an opaque bag. This may be because vegetables tend to be less visually appealing.

Being able to see what we’re about to consume through transparent packaging can impact how much we’ll eat of it. For food manufacturers and retailers, it may be beneficial to package smaller, visually appealing foods in transparent bags and larger foods or healthier foods in opaque bags to increase post-purchase consumption.

What influences your eating habits?

To effectively evaluate transparent packaging and other materials for clarity, the following products are recommended:

CM-5 Spectrophotometer

CM-36dG Spectrophotometer

CM-3700A Spectrophotometer

SpectraMagic NX2 Software

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