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The Most Favoured Colour Used in Food Packaging Design

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The packaging is an integral part of the product which marketers are aware of. Colour has been of great significance as it is associated with human emotions. Colour has a profound effect on human behavior, and it affects the bottom line in branding and packaging. The color red has been of significance in food packaging, but knowledge of red color and its impact on food packaging are fragmented. The study was conducted to determine why the color red is the most favored color in food package design with this motivation. This was a quantitative study, and data were collected both through primary and secondary sources. Preliminary data were obtained through surveys after the literature review. Data on how humans associate colors with emotions were collected, and then those packaged items were shown to capture their immediate responses. The study showed that while red is often correlated with positive emotion, the product attributes carry significance on the packaging for purchasing the actual product. In the case of Heinz ketchup and McDonalds, this was also discovered; their profits were not adversely affected when they changed their color from red to green. The buying decision is often affected by society and global trends. For example, as the trend today is for a greener world, Coke has changed its packaging to a more eco-friendly material while still keeping its red logo. The study concludes that red in food packaging is not the most preferred color. However, the research has its weaknesses that have been highlighted, and areas have been suggested for further studies.

Table of Contents



Most products require good packaging. Packaging not only can protect the product from damage but can also promote sales. Sales occur through visual perception, and this is where the color of the packaging plays a vital role in consumer expectations. The color associations and conceptions exist in memory and affect how people make choices. This is particularly relevant in the context of the supermarkets where consumers are constrained for time. However, market research indicates that 90% of consumer purchases result from a deliberate search, and only 10% of assets are made on impulse. And of those planned purchases, 60% of the decision to buy involves color (Rodemann 1999, p170). Supermarkets have rows of shelves stocked with similar products, and hence marketers try to differentiate their packaging to attract the consumers. Red color has its importance and has thus been of significance in food packaging.

The Most Favoured Colour Used in Food Packaging Design

Literature Review

The eye senses color, but the perception of color takes place in the mind and not always conscious. Colour is experienced at different levels of awareness, depending on how and where we see it. Colour is understood in context: as form, as light, as surroundings. Colour permeates the environment, appears as an attribute of objects, and communicates without words (Holtzschue 2002, p.2).

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Colour has a profound effect on human behavior (Colour-Affects, 2010). Colors hence affect the bottom line in branding, packaging, web design as well. Colour plays a vital role in marketing, as marketing research indicates that over 80% of visual information is related to color (Color Matters 2008). Colors are used to identify products, be it in the pharmaceutical industry or industrial equipment. Competitors in a particular sector try to use distinctive colors as a differentiation strategy. For instance, laundry detergents come in reliable blue/green or yellow packaging. The actual design may differ, but the same solid colors are used, confusing the consumer.

Supermarkets have similar products on the shelves, and the customers spend a few seconds on scanning and making selection. Because of the cluttered and time-constrained environments, it is expected that package appearance would play an essential role in the formation of brand consideration sets (Pieters, Warlop and Hartog 1997). One of the critical factors that influence a customer to reach out and choose a specific product from the shelf, according to Tan and Zeng (2004), is its packaging color. The packaging color attracts the customer’s attention and conveys intrinsic value, such as strength and purity. Tan and Zeng confirm that successful color combinations result in higher sales figures. Products are bought “with the eyes,” which conveys the power of packaging and, consequently, the importance of color in food packaging. It serves as an advertising tool in a highly competitive market.

However, there has been very little research on the effect of package color on consumer choice. Most of the marketing research on color has focused on store atmosphere and print advertising. Concerning store design, Bellizzi, Crowley, and Hasty (1983) and Bellizzi and Hite (1992) test consumers’ color preferences for retail store designs and find that blue is soothing and preferred while red is arousing and less well-liked. However, in food packaging, the red color has been known to attract and impress the consumers in varying degrees as it conveys messages and triggers associations (Colour-experience, n.d.).

The above findings lack a rigorous theoretical understanding of why those effects occur. Also, inconsistent results have been reported in color literature. For example, conflicting results have been found regarding whether warm versus cool colors enhance cognitive task performance. While some researchers have found that cool color leads to a better understanding than warm colors, such as red (Elliot et al., 2007), others have observed the opposite Hatta et al., 2002; Kwallek and Lewis, 1990)

Rationale For Research

Knowledge of the use of red color and its impact on food packaging is fragmented. While this paper’s framework applies to all aspects of a package’s appearance, the motivation to focus on packaging color is based on specific reasons. Firstly, color is a significant element of a product’s box; it is vivid and memorable (Cheskin 1957, p.80). Secondly, a package’s color plays a vital role in consumer expectations. It has a substantial effect on consumers’ ability to recognize the brand and the meaning conveyed by the package. Thirdly, consumers rely on supermarkets for their purchases to obtain most of the requirements under one roof. How packaging and packaging color effects consumers’ perception of a product at supermarkets is of immense interest as it could help marketers design packaging. Therefore, the color of the packaging is an essential part of the marketing process.

Aims and Objectives

To determine the reasons why the color red is the most favored color in food package design, the purposes of the study would be:

  • To evaluate the extent to which the color RED is used to its best advantage at the point of sale.
  • To determine the current trend in using the RED color in packaging on a global basis.
  • To evaluate the overall impact of using color “RED” in packaging.

This study has been based on both primary and secondary data collection. A secondary search has been conducted through available prior literature, while through quantitative surveys and interviews, preliminary data has been collected.

Organization of the Study

  • Introduction Chapter I

This chapter sets the context of the lies down the course’s motivation, aims, and objectives.

  • Literature Review Chapter II

This chapter defines the main terms, and integrates prior available literature on the red color, on the packaging, establishes the linkage between color and human emotion, and forms the framework for the study. At each point, the objectives of the course have been kept in mind.

  • Information Graphics in Two Shopping Malls, Research and Analysis Chapter III

Information on two shopping malls has been synthesized in this chapter.

  • Research Methodology Chapter IV

The methodology for the research is justified in this chapter. A quantitative approach has been adopted by the justification provided in this chapter.

  • Findings and Discussions Chapter V

Data collected through surveys and interviews have been synthesized in this chapter. Findings and discussions have not been segregated to avoid repetition. The analyses of primary data collected have been connected to the literature on the subject. A link has also been maintained with the three objectives set out for the study.

  • Conclusion and Recommendations Chapter VI

This chapter summarizes the study, and based on the findings, the recommendation for further research on the subject has been provided. Limitations of the study have also been highlighted in this chapter.

Literature Review


  • History of color

In 1666 Isaac Newton studied colors and developed the useful Newton Color Circle, a convenient way to summarize the additive mixing properties of pigments. Red, Green, and Blue are the primary additive colors, and Newton realized that colors such as magenta and purple could not be produced as spectral colors (Hyperphysics, n.d.). One of his significant contributions was that white light contains all wavelengths of the visible spectrum.

After that, Thomas Young suggested the threefold character of color perception in 1802, and in 1860 James Clerk Maxwell explored the use of three primary colors. Maxwell indicated that no additive combination of three primary colors could cover the entire gamut of perceivable hues. Maxwell’s work is considered to be the ba specific modern colorimetry. He recognized that the chromaticity of shade and a colored surface’s saturation is relatively insensitive to the brightness.

  • Colour and Emotion

Colour is an expression of feelings, and it also affects human emotions. Colors affect people in different ways, and there is a definite connection between colors and emotions. For instance, yellow, blue, and orange are identified as happy colors and red, black, and brown as sad colors (Singh 2006). These emotions of happy vs. low are similar across age groups. Colour is one of the variables in a shopping environment that can increase purchase probability. While color is related to feelings about the retail environment, it can also lead to distraction and influence anxiety. Colors produce mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual responses. Restful colors make a quiet and passive feeling and enhance contemplation and reflection (Garber, Burke, and Jones 2000). Revitalizing colors create conditions of change and expansion; these colors encourage improvement and balance. A packaging design using a lot of red or orange could be described as ‘angry,’ ‘hot,’ and ‘wealth’ depending on the cultural differences across nations. Some also interpret red as divine and pure. Emotionally warm colors like red and yellow have been associated with elated mood states like adventurousness, vitality, and arousal (Bellizzi and Hite 1992). Cool colors such as blue and green are associated with peace, calm, love, and happiness. The red color is supposed to be emotionally arousing, exciting, and distracting.

  • Impact of Using the Correct Color in Packaging

Choosing an eye-catching color has three advantages of promoting retail products (Cheskin 1957, p.80). First, attracting the customers’ attention and then holding their attention to purchase the products. Second, it can convey the information from the packaging color. Finally, the eye-catching color can make the story memorable. Colour catches the “eye” and attracts attention. The art of using color in any promotional application is to find out what will appeal to the public and how color can be used to best advantage at the point of sale. The Colour “red” is an eye-catching color for packaging, and it has a positive symbolism of red (Color Matters 2008). From the above, we can conclude that the most important reason for using color in packaging or the brand name is to attract attention. It can help to sell the product, service, or concept concerned. The best colors for this purpose are primary, simple colors which reflect physiological responses.

However, Singh (2006) concludes that colors are controversial. This is because responses to color differ across cultures, ages, and gender.


  • Definition of Packaging

Package comprehension refers to the meaning that a product’s package conveys to the customer. A box communicates a product’s attributes, benefits, ingredients, and promotional offers. It triggers associations in consumer memory. Visual, verbal, and tactile elements of the package, such as the brand name and logo, package size, shape, color, texture, and graphics, can bring to mind images of product quality, performance characteristics, usage situations, and past consumption experiences (Garber, Burke, and Jones 2000). Over the years, packing norms have explicitly developed for a category. For example, in bar soap, the color pink has come to mean that a product has cosmetic and conditioning benefits while green suggests deodorizing qualities; in liquid soap, an orange-pink color communicates antibacterial properties; in dishwashing liquid, yellow indicates a lemon scent, green means gentleness, and blue conveys grease-cutting benefits.

  • Packaging and its Functions

Packaging has come to mean the art or science of using a package as a marketing tool with changing consumer preferences, education levels, and lifestyle changes. The function of packaging has elevated from mere protection of the product. Packs have been defined as the ‘silent salesman’ or ‘sales clincher’ (Vazquez, Bruce and Studd 2003). The group should come alive at the point of purchase. A pack is the embodiment of the core values of the brand and the brand’s identity. Packaging designs must be such that they force the customer to lower their psychological defenses and become interested in the product purchase.

  • Packaging and Marketing

Consumers make multiple choices under time pressure and, most often, in environments where several brands compete for consumers’ attention (Pieters, Warlop, and Hartog, 1997). There are three factors based on which the consumer visually scans the products on display. These include his cultural preference, scanning routines, and elements on display. Marketers can design their product packaging based on how scanning occurs. Marketers use colors like red and yellow to draw and attract customers (Bellizzi and Hite 1992). Colour and brands have significant associations. Cadbury’s distinctive purple, Coke’s red color, and Shell’s yellow all have different color values to other customers. This indicates that manufacturers understand the significance of color and emotions and can prompt a swifter response to packaging than imagery. Holograms and metallic colored packaging of Colgate toothpaste are meant to entice the customers to choose their product over Proctor’s & Gamble (Singh, 2006). However, the marketers have to be aware of the impact of different colors in their geographic region because the response to color differs across age, gender, and culture.

  • Relationship Between Packaging and Consumer Attitude

Different colors can convey additional information.

Consumers anticipate the taste and quality of food and drink depending upon the color choice. Ready-packed food and beverages are assessed by visual cues alone. Marketers exploit color to enhance a product’s appeal. Therefore, once a color combination has caught and held the attention, and helped convey a suitable message, its final task in the retail store is to attach itself to a product. Two global companies have successfully sustained their color identity – Coke (red) and Kodak (yellow). When Kodak substituted blue for the yellow in 1914, its sales dropped significantly until the familiar yellow pack was reinstated (Bellizzi and Hite 1992). Colors are known to heighten emotional involvement, and in repeat purchases, the inclusion of color helps to remember the brand.

Importance of the Color RED

  • Definition of Red

Red has always been the most critical color and is most often chosen to symbolize something (Weber, 2009). The color red is the color of our blood and hence represents life force energy. Fast food restaurants use the color red in the logos and designs since they are easily attracted. Red is controversial as it is also associated with anger, but the color red symbolizes energy. Red is the color of south or fire or fame as per feng shui. It points whatever it touches. Red stimulates feelings of arousal and appetite. When the eye sees red, the pituitary glands send out signals that increase blood pressure, and the rate of respiration and all these physiological changes can result in a purchase (Tufts 1999). It is not surprising that many foods use the color red in their packaging.

Red is also a physical reaction to anger (Bear, 2010). Red denotes power; flashing red light indicates danger or emergency and is used to draw attention. Red is also associated with purity, joy, and celebrations in some cultures. In some cultures, it attracts good luck and prosperity. Red is often the color used by brides in the East while it is the color of mourning in South Africa. An important day is called a red-letter day, or a red-carpet treatment is given to someone special. The celebration is done by painting the town red while being in the red denotes running in loss. Thus, red is the most vibrant color in the spectrum.

  • Effect of Using Red in Packaging

People associate the color of packaging with quality, and the actual colors related to quality are gold and red (PR Newswire 1998). Red is an impulsive color and makes the customers purchase the product. Colour has a tremendous impact on the perception of quality. Even a slight shift in the tint or saturation of a color can impact sales. While designers love to experiment with their designs and color trends, what matters is the customer-perception.

Summary of Literature Review

Colour has a definite connection to human emotion, but different researchers interpret colors differently. The literature review suggests that the impact of color on consumers, to a large extent, depends upon the cultural background, age, and gender. At the same time, literature also suggests that marketers are aware of the significance of colors in packaging. Colors communicate brand identity, and consumers associate quality with shades, such as gold and red. The color red has its attributes in attracting and sustaining the interest of the customers. Because of the wide variety of products on display at the retail stores, colors such as red are used to attract repeat purchases as the consumers are always hard-pressed for time. Companies such as Coke have been able to sustain their color red for years. There are even different opinions on how people react to the color RED – while some connect it to anger (Singh), others find it divine and pure (Bellizzi and Hite 1992). The most important reason for using color in packaging or the brand name is to attract attention (Color Matters 2008). Still, then the response to color differs across cultures, suggesting that packaging would have to be altered to suit the business environment (Singh). Manufacturers understand the significance of colors, and hence they must be able to respond to individual requirements. Colour is significant as due to emotional involvement, the chances of repeat purchases are high (Bellizzi and Hite 1992).

Information Graphics in Two Shopping Malls, Research, and Analysis

The Role of Package Colour

Package appearance plays a vital role in forming brand consideration sets, significantly when consumers rely on visual search in cluttered and time-constrained environments ( Pieters, Warlop, and Hartog 1997). Unfortunately, past research on product appearance and package design has frequently sidestepped the consideration issue by forcing customers to attend to and evaluate product packages (Dugree and O’Connor 1994; Schoormans and Robben 1996; Veryzer and Hutchinson 1998). While this may be realistic for some high involvement decisions where consumers carefully evaluate each available brand, it does not represent most retail shopping situations.

In a study by Marsh Supermarkets, category penetration ranged from a low of 5 to 25 percent for general merchandise, health and beauty care, and flowers, to a high of 60 percent for the meat department (Burke 1995). In a field study of consumer purchases of laundry detergent, Hoyer (1984) found that consumers, on average, spend 8.5 seconds in making a purchase decision (including the time taken to walk down the grocery aisle). Few consumers examined more than one brand: only 28 percent of the sample looked at, and 17 percent picked up two or more brands. Dickson and Sawyer (1990) found that, for coffee, toothpaste, margarine, and cold cereal, the mean category shopping time was less than 12 seconds, with 42 percent of shoppers spending 5 seconds or less. Shoppers examined an average of 1.2 brands. Burke (1995) reported that customers purchased an average of 48 different items in just 39 minutes during a typical stock-up shopping trip.

Under the circumstances, marketers try to capture the consumers’ attention through adequate packaging, and the color of the package has a vital role to play.

The Effects of Packaging Color

Several studies have compared the effectiveness of color versus black and white print media. Sparkman and Austin (1980) find that color advertisements sell more than black and white advertisements. Schindler (1986) points out that using color in and advertising can sacrifice contrast, reducing legibility and readability. Gorn et al. (1997) analyze color’s effects in a print advertisement on consumer arousal, affect, and recall by breaking color into its constituent elements and value. They extend the notion that red is exciting by noting that any highly saturated color can be arousing.

In practice, the art of selecting appropriate colors for packaging products has developed little since the 1960s. (Milton, H.2001). The package designers have not been able to find a conclusive method to assess the impact of color and its psychophysical function. (Tan and Zeng, 2004). Research in marketing has shown that cool colors are often associated with more favorable product evaluations, higher purchase intentions, and a stronger inclination to shop (Babin et al. 2003).

While the above findings are intriguing, they often lack a rigorous theoretical understanding of why those effects occur. Also, inconsistent results have been reported in colour literature. For example, conflicting results have been found regarding whether warm versus cool colors enhance cognitive task performance. Some researchers have found that cool colors led to a better understanding than warm colors, such as red. (Elliot et al. .2007) while others have observed the opposite (Hatta et al. 2002; Kwallek and Lewis 1990).

Based on the above theoretical perceptions, two products and their packaging colors were looked into greater depths.

Case Studies

  • Heinz Ketchup

    • Ketchup Goes Green as Heinz EZ Squirt™ Hits Store Shelves

Ketchup Goes Green as Heinz EZ Squirt™ Hits Store Shelves

Colour has an emotional and psychological effect on all levels. While color is considered the last reason for purchasing a product, it is the first thing to strike a consumer’s eye. About 73% of purchase decisions are made in-store, and 92.6% of people consider the visual factor when making purchase decisions (LoyaltySquare, n.d.). Colour is a significant factor, with 84.7% of the total respondents in research conducted by the Seoul International Colour Expo 2004.

Colour increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent. The case of Heinz EZ Squirt Blastin’ Green Ketchup is a fitting example. Due to a mere color change, Heinz earned $23 million in revenue in the first seven months following its introduction. This was the highest increase in sales in the brand’s history (LoyaltySquare, n.d.). This overwhelming response surprised even the company officials because it is not often that 8-year olds demand their ketchup as they would require a new toy. The children are exposed to vibrant colors, and they expect the same experience at the dinner table as well. Colour, taste, and touch are vital elements of differentiation. The innovation behind Heinz EZ Squirt’s package and the eye-catching color is an excellent example of how an item can transcend its food status by first, delighting kids.”

Kids were the inspiration for the product’s packaging, fun color, and control features. Heinz says that green was among the most popular colors mentioned by kids for the new product. The company is quick to point out that the green hue is achieved by stripping the paint from traditional Heinz Ketchup and adding green food coloring, not from green tomatoes, as many consumers suspect. Intensive testing was conducted to ensure that the same great taste of Heinz Ketchup is present in the new green version. Outside of the packaging, the only difference in the new EZ Squirt variety is that the green version is not called ‘tomato ketchup’ because the addition of the food color means the product is no longer 100% ketchup. Plus, both the red and green versions are fortified with Vitamin C, most likely to appeal to kids’ parents.

Thus, this confirms Singh’s (2006) conclusion that the responses to color differ across age and culture.

    • McDonald’s

Different colors convey different meanings, and in the case of fast food, most restaurants are decorated with vibrant colors such as red and oranges (LoyaltySquare, n.d.). The survey suggests that red and orange encourage people to eat and leave fast, which implies that restaurants can expect to serve more customers. Red also makes food more appealing. General restaurants use the color blue as it is colder and relaxing. More extended stay means larger meals and more wining and dining. Thus, the color strategy is used by restaurants in marketing their services.

According to The National Fire Protection Association, the US, red indicates flammability, and yellow indicates reactivity (Barringer, 2006). Red, yellow, and orange are the most used colors in traffic signs. Hundred of fast food joints and eateries rely on this color combination. These colors are hence associated with danger. Red and yellow are popular as they stand out against the background. The color with the least negative connotation is blue, but fast food restaurants use red and yellow. Colors are constructs of the brain, and hence it has to appeal to the mind because of some evolutionary advantage. Scientists have still not concluded why we notice some colors more than others but the symbolism of red and yellow lines in the culture. This is what McDonald’s has tried to play on – the emotions. They arrived at this combination after a series of changes and finally settled with red-and-yellow variety globally. Today blobs of red and tallow would first be identified with “Big Mac” before being taken as a traffic warning. Because of their global identity, many fast food companies have adopted this combination. The urban legend still suggests that McDonald’s adopted this combination to entice people to leave the restaurant and make room for new customers. However, companies such as Royal Mail and Shell Oil also use the same variety, and they would never use it if the two colors had such a negative connotation to it. While McDonald’s was in the process of deciding the colors, studies indicated that the first two colors that the eye processes and sends the signal to the brain are red and yellow. It could also be the color of ketchup and mustard – the only two condiments used for the burgers.

The decision to switch to ‘green’ in Europe was based on a ‘greener environment’ that only shows the company’s keeping pace with the consumers’ demands towards a sustainable environment. It is still too early to determine if the change of color has impacted sales in Germany or throughout Europe. However, they have plans to open 40 new restaurants across Germany in 2010 (MacPherson Lane, 2009), suggesting that color change would not impact sales. This indicates that the mindset of people keeps changing, and so do color preferences.

Research Methodology

While the research methodology is the procedural framework within which the research is conducted, there are two different opinions on how research should be conducted. This is because arguments can be evaluated in two different ways – in terms of their deductive correctness or duration of their inductive strength (Rips, 2001).


Although there are several methods to conduct research, the two most commonly used methods are the positivism (deductive/quantitative with hypothesis testing) and interpretivism (inductive/qualitative with hypothesis generalizations). Each method has its purpose, advantages, and disadvantages depending upon the study’s objective, the subject, the size, time, and duration of the course. Some suggest combining both these methods as overlapping parameters could make the strategy selection difficult (Amaratunga et al., 2002). A research strategy should be chosen as a function of the research question.

Research Philosophy

In research, positivism suggests that the investigation is measurable, controllable, and explainable (Knox, 2004). Positivism indicates that the world exists externally and that the properties should be measured through objective methods. Since quantitative research is essentially numerical evidence, positivism is related to the quantitative method of analysis.

Benefits of the Quantitative Approach

Accordingly, this study is quantitative because quantitative investigations look for distinguishing characteristics, fundamental properties, and empirical boundaries. It focuses on numbers that represent opinions and concepts. Since the purpose of the research is to evaluate the impact of using the color RED in food packaging, views, and numbers matter. The research questions in this study are concerned with numbers and opinions and hence suitable for the course. Moreover, in quantitative research, it is possible to maintain the observer’s independence from the subjects being studied (Bryman, 1984). The explanations can be reduced to the simplest terms, facilitating future decisions based on past generalizations. Quantitative research is very descriptive, and the same instrument can be used in a different context. Through the qualitative approach, close observation of the respondents would not be possible. More number of participants can be covered through quantitative research.

Moreover, in qualitative research, much depends upon the researcher’s interpretation, whereas in the quantitative study, the deductions are based on facts and figures. It is easier to arrive at generalizations based on past events, which helps arrive at a faster conclusion. Moreover, quantitative research is descriptive, and all examinations require description.

The question in the quantitative survey has been divided into three parts:

  • Part A, the personal background of the interviewers (Appendix A).
  • Part B, The relationship between human emotions and the primary color (Appendix B).
  • Part C, which color is the most eye-catching of the food product (Appendix C).
  • Section D contains the McDonalds and Heinz tomato Ketchup packaging comment changed from red to green (Appendix D).


Forty people aged between 8 and 50 years have been included in the survey. This would give the perception of color across age and gender. They were asked to participate in a test of their attitude of the color of the packaging. All the interviewees have prior shopping experience at supermarkets. In this survey, no computer experience was required. The survey was conducted face-to-face.

  • Part A – personal Information

This section has set four questions to divide the respondents’ population in different ways – gender, mindset, and experience.

  • Part B – The Relationship Between Human Emotion and the Primary Colors, that is “Red,” “Yellow,” and “Blue.”

There is a list of words to describe the customer’s emotions when they are facing different packaging colors. Table A shows the terms used by several authors. To address the language of emotion, Laros and Steenkamp (2005) used an essential study by Richins (1997). Based on the extensive research, Richins had constructed the Consumption emotion Set (CES). This scale includes most of the emotions that can emerge in consumption situations. The words in CES (Table A) are among the most frequently encountered names in psychological emotion literature. There is a wide divergence in the content of emotions studied in consumer research. Consumer researchers often use a small number of dimensions (Nagozzi et al., 1999). The classification of emotions into positive and negative effects appears to be the most popular conceptualization from the above. The questions have hence been based on this concept.

To simplify our research, Woods’ analysis will be used to be the reference. Wood turned to the work of Paul Ekman (2003), who makes a case for a set of seven raw emotions: happiness, surprise, sadness, fear, anger, contempt, and disgust, all of which are universally conveyed by and recognizable in the face to all people and cultures. Therefore, in the research, these seven emotion words have been used as options in the survey.

To capture the consumer responses, the immediate response has been charged as the most valuable impression. The respondents were instructed to look at the stimulus and give their quick reaction on seeing the package of different colors. Each of the respondents selected one of the actual emotional words.

  • Part C – Three Canned Tuna Fish had Been Chosen For the Example

The product category used in this study is three canned tuna fish packages. The canned tuna fish were selected due to several criteria. First, they were a mature, stable product category with relatively low marketing activity levels such as product or package innovations, new product introductions, advertising, unique store displays, or price promotions. In such categories, consumer behavior is likely to be routine, as shopper select their favorite brands from the standard set of options. When the base level of brand consideration is low, packaging manipulation has a greater chance of increasing concern and choice.

Second, the canned tuna fish will be the same brand name. It can create various levels of package similarity and consistency. For the experiment, we manipulated the color of the packaging. Colour was chosen because it is a dominant visual feature often used by manufacturers to attract attention and convey a favorable image. Unlike the package shape, a change in color does not affect the package’s function. Colour can significantly impact how consumers respond to marketing stimuli, as shown in advertising studies by Gorn, Chattopadhyay, Yi, and Dahl (1997) and Meyers-Levy and Peracchio (1995). The packages of each of the products were scanned into the computer. Packages were edited to remove any extraneous promotions or offers, but most other visual features, such as logos, characters, and other graphic elements, were retained.

During the research, respondents were asked to indicate which product attributes characterized each of the packages. They were told to base their evaluations solely on package appearance. They were then asked to rate the degree to which they liked or disliked each of the test packages. Packages with low evaluations were eliminated from the set.

The respondents were not given out too much information on the purpose of the study, and hence the word ‘experience’ was not used. The notion of “experience” in the consumer test does not mean anything yet in this writing course. Customers are accustomed to answering questions about the product’s package color, but not necessarily about their “experience.”

  • Part D – Comment on the Change of Packaging Color of McDonald’s and Heinz Tomato Ketchup 

Two sets of the picture were shown to the respondents. The first set is the traditional and the “green-hunter” McDonalds. The other group is the Heinz tomato Ketchup pictures, one is red, and one is green. Then, the interviewees were asked to respond to open-ended questions for these two sets of images. The questions asked for their comment on the new product:

  • Do they like the original package or the old one?
  • What is the red and green represent in different packaging for the ketchup and
  • McDonald’s?

Novelty and contrast refer to the package’s ability to visually stand out from its surroundings and draw attention to itself through its novel appearance. Novelty and difference are defined in relative rather than absolute terms. They are a function of both a package’s distinctiveness relative to the other brands on the store shelf (Veryzer and Hutchinson 1998). Its departure from consumer expectations is based on past shopping and consumption experiences.

Findings and Discussions


  • Part A – the forty participants between the age of 8 and 50 included 24 female and 16 male respondents.
  • Part B – Responses to the Color Red: twenty-eight of the 40 respondents expressed happiness, eight felt surprised when they see the red color, and the remaining four said that red gives rise to anger. Since joy and surprise are positive emotions, it can be concluded that red sends positive emotional signals.
    • Responses to the Color Blue: thirty-eight of the 40 respondents expressed sadness, and two expressed disgust. Both these responses carry negative emotions, and this is perhaps blue is associated with “cool.”
    • Response to the Color Yellow: thirty-six of the 40 respondents expressed surprise, and four expressed happiness, both of which are again positive emotions. However, the word “surprise” is neutral and can be both positive and negative.
  • Part C – Ten of the 40 respondents chose the canned tuna fish’s red package, while 12 chose the yellow box, and 13 chose the blue canned tuna fish.
  • Part D – twenty-five respondents expressed intent and interest in trying the new product of Heinz tomato Ketchup and also to consume at the green Mcdonald’s outlets. Thirty-eight of the 40 respondents said that green represented a healthy life and a greener environment and was keen to try it. Two of the remaining respondents were not aware of the green symbolism and the fast food concept.


The respondents in the survey were from both sexes and all age groups, and hence the data from different variables have been collected. The study demonstrates that humans do associate different colors with other emotions. Even though about 75% of the respondents expressed happiness and surprise on seeing the red color, and about 98% expressed sadness in seeing the blue color, when it came to buying the packed tuna cans, 13 of them chose the blue cans against ten that chose the red cans. This demonstrates that packaging color is no significant determinant of the purchase decision. It does not influence consumer attitude in the purchase of canned tuna fish. The red color has no privileged status over other colors on consumer attitude. Consumers chose the product based on their behavior or habit. Product quality and brand name are significant factors in making the purchase decision. The color blue for this product was chosen as it symbolically represents the blue ocean, where the tuna is fished out from. Hence, according to them, this was the most suitable color for the product. This demonstrates that while color does influence human emotions, the product attributes have more significance in choosing the packaging color.

  • Traditional Colours

Trends influence the packaging color as global warming has encouraged all to go in for greens. Apart from that, they prefer to stick to conventional paints. Consumers vary by age, gender, income, education, social status, cultural background, and location. Regardless of the product’s package color’s success, consumers would continue to demand products in traditional colors (Holtzschue 2002, p.129).

Colors carry images and symbols that are influenced by culture, history, and circumstances. In Hong Kong, red is a sexy and vibrant color, while green represents environmental protection. The latest fad being green, consumers prefer green packaging over the red color.

  • Colour Forecasting

The trend determines the consumer preference for the color of the product package. Manufacturers want to know as much as possible about likely new consumer color preferences before they begin the production of new goods. Nowhere do psychology and marketing interact more closely than in the area of consumer color preferences. Hundreds of organizations and individuals, both nonprofit and for-profit, provide research on color and prediction of incoming color trends for target markets and target industries. These individuals and organizations provide an increasingly vital service called color forecasting. However, scientists have not been able to find any conclusive evidence of the preference for colors as related to packaging (Barringer, 2006).

Colour professionals provide information and guidance on the next wave of color demand. Organizations like the Color Marketing Group (CMG) and Color Association of the United States (CAUS) identify and predict color trends through a wide variety of indicators: observation, meetings and workshops, and scientific consumer testing, consumer surveys, and by analyzing how consumers respond to several cultural forces. Regional factors are also considered because not all colors sell in all climates. (Holtzschue 2002, p.129)

Colour forecasting has its limitations. Colour forecasting must reflect the pubic taste and direct it at the same time. People cannot be forced to like or to buy new colors. Typically, individual consumers do not adopt all the colors in a new palette. New colors are prosperous only when they can easily be integrated into existing color schemes (Rodemann 1999, p.171).

  • Colour and Product Identity

A separate goal of color marketing is to establish a link in the consumer’s mind between a particular color and a specific product. Colour becomes the leading visual cue to product identity only when a form is so generic that additional information is necessary for recognition. Therefore, we know that color is always a secondary identifier. No matter how familiar a color, it is impossible to interpret color alone as an object, situation, or even a symbol unless accompanied by a standard form or arrangement of shapes. This is right in the case of Heinz ketchup as well as Mcdonald’s. While a color over time is established as the brand identity, there is nothing to convince that the red color is superior to other colors or preferred by consumers even amidst time-constraint purchases.

McDonald’s and the tomato Ketchup had been packaging in red for a long time. The packaging colors had become their product identity. However, in both cases, it has been seen that the color did not impact sales or consumer preference. Yet, when the color changes, the company has to communicate its purpose so that consumers do not derive their or meanings or symbols. For instance, when Heinz changed its packaging to green, consumers presumed that the ketchup was made of green tomatoes, which had to be clarified by the company. Today companies go by the trends, and hence, just like McDonald’s, even Coke has changed its packaging. The Eco-coke design concept recently introduced is made with 100% organic materials (Anderson, 2010). The red logo remains unchanged, but the packaging is innovative and unorthodox. Again, the idea behind this change is to keep up with global consumer trends.

Change of color can motivate the customers to try the product afresh, or it may attract more consumers. However, consumers’ interest in new packaging is sustained only for a short period.

  • Globalization and its Impact on Color Preference

The above survey demonstrates that the color of packaging attracts them based on their attitude, culture, behavior, and the symbolism attached to color. The product attributes also bear significance as tuna fish was associated with blue.

Globalization does not lead the color red to be more popular than other colors. It offers no additional advantage or disadvantage to the packaging. However, cheaper food joints prefer to use it as it catches immediate attention.

Globalization has blurred the color distinction as no single-sourced inspired the colors of the food packaging. The 21st century offers an environment where designers can use any combination of colors and be accepted (Holtzschue 2002, p.130).

The survey results also demonstrate the dilemma that lies ahead for the packaging designers. Market appeal of color is crucial to sales and even to the design process. In the global market place, innovative, timeless colorings will find marketability (Holtzschue 2002, p.130).

Conclusion and Recommendations


This study was undertaken to determine why the color red is the most favored color in food package design. The objectives were set in the first chapter, and after the literature review, primary data was collected through quantitative surveys. The three goals set in the first chapter have been met.

The first objective was to evaluate the extent to which the color RED is used to its best advantage at the point of sale. The study finds that color is the most important of the primary stimuli, creating visual attraction and customer appeal, and it is an integral part of the packaging design. The use of color is central to the whole package design process, but it must be used with purpose and not merely for the sake of color. The color RED has no significant bearing at the point of sale except for fast food joints and cheap eateries.

The second objective was to determine the current trend in using the RED color in packaging globally. Companies globally are adopting the green movement and changing their packaging to demonstrate their environmentally friendly attitude. Heinz, McDonald’s, and Coke have all changed their packaging color without any adverse impact on sales.

The third objective was to evaluate the overall impact of using the color “RED” in packaging. RED does have its importance but is perceived differently by different societies. To some, it is a symbol of prosperity and auspiciousness while it also denotes anger to others. Packaging color can attract the consumer to the products because they create an emotional reaction from the reader. However, different countries have different respect to the colors. So, the designer must be sensitive to the cultural aspects of the meaning and symbolism of colors. Colour is the most important of the primary stimuli which create visual attraction and customer appeal, and it is an essential part of the graphic design of a package. The use of color is central to the whole package design process, but it must be used with purpose and not merely for the sake of color.

The study concludes that red color is not the most favored color in food packaging. It has its appeal, but even in a time-constrained environment at the stores, customers would not be more attracted to red color packaging any more than they would be attracted to other colors. However, they do associate colors with human emotion, but these associations vary across cultures.


The research was necessarily limited in terms of the range of marketing stimuli and responses investigated. We manipulated only one dimension of a package’s appearance – the packaging color. However, there are other elements in packaging design concept. A package’s colors can dominant visual attributes that can be seen by shoppers’ attention and consideration those visual elements requiring closer inspections, such as the products logo, typestyle, or the graphic design on the package of the product.

The other aspects of the marketing mix were not considered in this study, which could influence the purchase decisions. The packaging is influenced by other marketing variables, which have not been considered here. A revised package may attract more attention when accompanies by promotions.

Finally, the study focused on the packaging of the retail products. The results are most relevant to another retail environment where products are shown in the context of many competitors. Moreover, a consumer’s likelihood of attending to and considering a new product advertised in a specialty magazine filled with competitors’ products is likely to be affected by the individual’s ability to identify the brands.

Areas for Further Research

The competitive context can significantly impact how customers respond to the colors of the brand’s packaging. In the present study, the focus was on changing the food or the fast food shop’s target packaging color. But, the virtual shopping simulation has the flexibility to manipulate the appearance of all the display brands. This allows one to test how a new package would perform under alternative competitive scenarios.

Lattin and Roberts (1992) and Lehmann and Pan (1994) find that similar products tend to appear together in consideration sets. Thus, studies can be undertaken to determine the direct effects of competitive activity, including the package changes on brand consideration. Moreover, consumers may be more likely to consider a target brand because they think another, similar competitive brand (Garber, Jr, 2000).

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Appendix A

Part A

Personal Background

  • Which of the following age group do you belong to

-Under 20     -21-30    -31-40    -41-50     Over 50

  • What is your gender?

-Female    -Male

  • What is your occupation?

-Student    -Blue Collar    -White Collar    -Professional    -Management/Executive

-Self-employed    -Housewife    -Unemployed

  • What is your education level?

-No school/ Primary School    -Secondary School   -Certificate/Diploma


Appendix B

Part B 

The primary colours and the human emotion

How do you feel about the color “red”? There are seven words to describe it, which word you will choose?

  • Happiness
  • Surprise
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Anger contempt
  • Disgust

How do you feel about the color “blue”? There are seven words to describe it, which word you will choose?

  • Happiness
  • Surprise
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Anger contempt
  • Disgust

How do you feel about the color “blue”? There are seven words to describe it, which word you will choose?

  • Happiness
  • Surprise
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Anger contempt
  • Disgust
Appendix C

Part C

There are 3 same band product but 3 different colour packages which one would u like to choose? And why ?

band product

Appendix D

Part D

Situation one—McDonald’s

Situation one McDonald’s

  1. McDonald’s changed its logo colour from traditional red backdrop for a deep hunter green. Can the green backdrop attract you to consume the McDonalds?


  1. What do you think about the green backdrop?


  1. Do you know the meaning of Green using for the backdrop? What meaning does it carry?


Stituation two—Heniz Tomato Ketchup

Stituation two Heniz Tomato Ketchup

  1. Heniz tomato Ketchup also changed the package from traditional red to green. Can the green package attract you to purchase the Ketchup?


  1. What do you think about the green package?


  1. Do you know the meaning of Green using for the package? What meaning does it carry?



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