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The influence of packaging on consumer purchase decision

In addition to consumer’ personal tastes and habits, the appearance and aesthetics of the packaging plays an important role in the decision to purchase a product.

The time spent looking at a product influences purchase decision

According to a recent study published by researchers from the University of Miami and California Institute of Technology in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the packaging of a food product would have a proven and important influence on the consumer purchase decision in-store.

Researchers showed that the aesthetic aspects of products’ packaging (color, brightness, typography, etc.) will influence where the shopper’s eyes will land on the shelf – and thus the products he will look at and the time spent for each product.

In other words, visually appealing products on the shelf attract consumers’ eyes and increase the attention spent on these products by shoppers.

And the time spent looking at a product and its packaging – in addition to consumers’ tastes and habits – influences the consumer purchase decision to buy a product or brand over another.

According to Milica Mormann, one of the authors of the study, “the big idea here is that perceptual processes happen in the brain in parallel with economic value computations and thus influence how economic decisions are made.”

Measuring and analyzing eye movements

To conduct this study, several participants have had showed and asked to choose between four sweet snacks and candy products (Twix, M&Ms, etc.). Researchers analyzed their eyes movements and measured the time spent looking at each of the products with an eye-tracking device.

Scientists also analyzed several packaging food products using a “novel neuro-computational simulation of human attentional processes” to determine which aspects and items are the most effective to attract attention. Visual attractiveness and personal preferences are the most important factors.

The study showed that packaging influences consumers in a ratio of 1:3 or 2:3 compared to their personal preferences. Thus, even if consumer’s tastes have a bigger influence, a product’s visual attractiveness plays a significant part into the decision to buy.

Researchers are able to determine and predict, from consumer preferences and analysis of packaging, eye-movement patterns and products’ choices.

According to Milica Mormann, “these findings can be applied to guide the design of choice environments, to ‘nudge’ people toward making optimal choices, be it selecting a healthy food option to eat or the best retirement plan to invest in.”

Creating a drawing attention packaging to increase sales

According to this study, the general appearance, visual attractiveness and capacity of product packaging to attract shopper’s attention has a significant influence in the purchase decision, in addition to consumer preferences.

This is an opportunity for manufacturers and brands to increase their sales by designing more visually attractive packaging that will attract shoppers’ eyes in-store and bring attention to their products. And thus influence the buying decision.

Fanny Perreau


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