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ProVeg study explores packaging colors’ impact on consumer appetite for plant-based

#ProVeg study explores packaging colors’ impact on consumer appetite for plant-based

06 Feb 2024 — A report released by ProVeg International, “The Power of Colour: Nudging Consumers Toward Plant-Based Meat Consumption,” has shed light on the pivotal role of packaging colors in steering consumers toward plant-based meat analogs.

The report reveals insights into the impact of color on flavor perception, willingness to try plant-based products, pricing decisions, and associations with health and sustainability.

According to ProVeg: “Understanding this relationship is crucial, not only for boosting a brand’s popularity but also for effectively reaching consumers who may not have previously considered incorporating plant proteins into their diet.”

Make or break?
In the world of plant-based meat, marketers and product designers know that packaging colors can make or break a product, Ajsa Spahic, researcher and author of ProVeg’s report, tells Food Ingredients First.

“At first, it was all about replicating the look of traditional meat, trying to keep things familiar. But now, it’s like a whole new canvas, and companies are getting creative with the colors to send messages to the consumers,” she says.

Spahic notes that green has been used a lot in plant-based meat packaging, which signals health and eco-friendliness, and since many plant-based meat products are all about being fresh and natural, it just makes sense to create this association.

“But some brands are going all out with bold and bright colors to show off their innovation and freshness in this exciting new category. Concrete examples of vibrant brands making strategic color choices include key industry players such as This, Heura, La Vie and Vegetarian Butcher,” she outlines.

“These brands are not only embracing creative and colorful designs but also venturing beyond conventional green packaging to broaden their appeal and captivate a wider consumer base.”

Reinventing and resonating with consumers
Spahic explains that plant-based is “a journey of reinvention and innovation, discovering which colors and designs truly click with the right crowd.”

“It’s not just about mimicking the look of traditional meat anymore. It’s about telling a unique plant-based story through colors that resonate with the end user. So, we are seeing more creative, colorful designs and vibrant hues as brands try to figure out the perfect combination to catch peoples’ eyes and keep them coming back for more.”

The stakes are colorful
Sixty-five percent of participants indicated that their purchasing choices are influenced by color.

The findings further revealed a greater openness among consumers to try plant proteins, provided that the packaging aligns with the desired aesthetic.

“Flexitarians and omnivores actually showed a greater inclination to try plant-based products when presented in red packaging. Consumers subconsciously associate red with tastiness, so by choosing red packaging, you are more likely to attract people who don’t immediately gravitate toward products dominated by the color green,” Spahic explains.

Green was revealed as “the predominant color in many plant-based products.”

Although it goes against current trends, the data indicates that it should only be used in moderation, Spahic comments. “Green should only be incorporated when your primary objective is to underscore the emphasis on sustainability and health benefits.”

Meanwhile, blues can indicate budget-friendly or premium products. “With its calming effect, blue can effectively communicate both cost-effectiveness and a readiness to invest in quality,” adds Spahic.

Colors that draw on positivity
Orange packaging consistently performed well in the US and UK.

According to Spahic, the color orange “notably heightened consumers’ willingness to purchase plant-based meat, showcasing its effectiveness as a strategic choice.”

Consumer eating plant-based burger.The survey included 1,200 participants, predominantly self-described omnivores, from both the US and the UK.In the US, orange proved to be the packaging color most likely to stimulate a willingness to both try and regularly purchase plant-based meat products.

Meanwhile, in the UK, plant-based products with orange packaging induced the strongest willingness to purchase regularly and increased the likelihood of a product being perceived as a replacement for conventional meat, Spahic underscores.

“The study found that in both countries, plant-based products packaged in orange were regularly associated with positive attributes.

“Consumers identified orange as a symbol of ethical considerations, encompassing values such as ethical farming practices, animal welfare, and fair trade. Simultaneously, orange was perceived as a signal of safety assurance, quality, and trustworthy sourcing, reinforcing its potential to positively influence consumer perceptions and choices.”

“First impressions matter,” concludes Spahic. “Something as simple as changing the color of the packaging has the power to attract consumers and make people of all dietary backgrounds more inclined to try meat alternatives.”

By Elizabeth Green

This feature is provided by Packaging Insights’s sister website, Food Ingredients First.

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