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EMAC 2022 Annual

Packed to persuade. The persuasiveness of colors and claims to make food and drinks seem healthy or sustainable.

Published: May 24, 2022


Lotte Hallez, KU Leuven/ Institute for Media Studies; Helena Vansteenbeeck, KU Leuven; Filip Boen, KU Leuven; Tim Smits, Institute for Media Studies, KU Leuven


People are increasingly motivated to make healthy and sustainable food choices. Package design elements may influence the impressions that people get about these product attributes. In two experiments, we investigated how packaging cues linked to healthiness (study 1) and to sustainability (study 2) impacted product perceptions and choice. Study 1 (N = 202) had a mixed design, with packaging colors (warm vs. cold) and a nutrition claim (present vs. absent) as within-subjects manipulations. Participants could choose between four beverages, and then answered questions about each beverage. Study 2 (N = 211) had a similar design and procedure, but focused on an eco claim and snack products. The results suggest that colors are an influential packaging cue; cold colors created the impression that products were healthy and sustainable, but sometimes also less tasty and exciting. The two claims influenced perceptions about product healthiness and sustainability, but not product choice.