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Fats are glossy but does glossiness imply fatness?

The Influence of Packaging Glossiness on Food Perceptions

laura de Kerpel, Barbara Volles and Anneleen Van Kerckhove


Abstract

This research brings together two research streams, one focusing on the influence of a diverse set of packaging attributes (e.g., shape, size, color, etc.) on perceptions of packaged food and the second one on the up-and downsides of using glossy materials, which are often studied in a non-food context. The current research deals with the influence of glossy (versus matte) food packages on consumers’ perceptions of the food inside the package. With one online survey and one quasi-experiment, we show that consumers draw inferences on the food’s fat level from the package surface, in that glossy packages are seen as a signal of fatness. This association is specific; consumers do not associate glossiness with every unhealthy product aspect. Sugar levels are unaffected by the package surface. However, due to the higher inferred fat level, a product in a glossy package is perceived to be less healthy, less tasty, and low in quality and product expensiveness. Thus, these findings suggest that glossy (versus matte) food packages mainly serve as a signal of negative product qualities.

Keywords: food packaging; evolved association; glossy surface; healthy inferences; consumer perception

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