When it comes to buying chocolate, consumers have many different varieties and companies from which to choose. After all, chocolate is popular as a commonplace purchase at the checkout counter of a grocery store, and is also often a preferred gift for special occasions.Much like the various kinds of chocolate found on the store shelf, the type of packaging the chocolate comes in also varies, from the very simple, to fancier foil-stamped and laminated options. But do these differences in packaging have an influence on whether or not the consumer chooses one chocolate product over the other?
Package Insight from Package InSight
That’s the question that Package InSight—a high technology startup focused on analyzing and developing consumer-driven packaging—and API—a leading manufacturer of foils, laminated and holographic materials—sought to answer in a study that looked at the effects of foils and laminates on packages of chocolate. The study examined the on-shelf impact of metallic materials on two different chocolate products to give insight into customer preferences.
“We already knew from experience that embellished products sell better—but our customers often didn’t want to talk about it, as doing so could give away competitive advantage,” says Richard Burhouse, commercial director at API, which sponsored the study. “Therefore, using a scientific and independent approach, we wanted to investigate and see how the impact of foils and laminates translated into numbers.”
The study took place at Clemson University’s CUshop Consumer Experience Laboratory and involved 70 participants, 64 percent female and 36 percent male. They wore state-of-the-art eye-tracking glasses to record their eye movements as they selected chocolate products from a shelf in a simulated retail store environment.“We chose to study chocolate for two main reasons,” says Richard. “Practically, it’s easy to adapt for both foil and non-foil. Also, while it is luxury, it’s also a relatively everyday product—and is therefore a powerful example of foil’s ability to enhance.”
The CUshop Consumer Experience Laboratory included 12-ft. shopping aisles, and frozen food, produce and refrigerated areas. According to the study, Package InSight collaborated with API in order to properly display typical chocolate planograms from local grocery stores.
While shopping, the participants’ eye movements were recorded with the glasses in order to provide “nonconscious” insight into why they chose certain chocolates over others. They viewed two chocolate controls without metallic treatment and two chocolate stimuli with embellishments—one was foil stamped (a Swiss chocolate), and one was in a laminate carton (a Belgian Collection chocolate). The control and stimuli products were placed on the shelf at different times.
Fixation Count & Total Fixation Duration
A metric called the “fixation count” looked at the number of times the participant scanned or fixated on the chocolate—the higher the number, the better the package performed. For both types of chocolate, the participants looked at the stimuli significantly more than the control.
Specifically, the Swiss chocolate had 196.45 counts for the stimuli compared to less than 150 counts for the control, and the Belgian chocolate had 196.85 counts for the stimuli and also less than 150 counts for the control.
The study also looked at “total fixation duration,” which involves the length of time (in seconds) a participant fixates on a specific item. For the Swiss chocolate, participants looked at the stimuli for 1.46 times longer than the control. For the Belgian chocolate, participants look at the stimuli for 1.36 times longer than the control.
According to the study’s findings, there was a strong correlation between total fixation duration and product selection, so as the participant’s fixation on a particular product increased, so did their likelihood of purchasing that chocolate product.