Study shows the importance of packaging in the consumption experience

31 July 2012

Research shows that the same orange juice can taste and smell different when presented in different packaging. At MMR Research Worldwide researchers have shown that packaging in its own right has the power to influence brand and product perceptions. But more recently the experience in packaging research and sensory science led the researchers to ask if packaging can also influence how consumers perceive the sensory qualities of products.In other words, a pack’s format alone may affect the way people judge the aroma, flavour and mouthfeel of a drink product, for example. If true, this would add a new dimension to the field of packaging research and innovation.
To test whether this was the case, the researchers designed an experiment which included the use of their in-house, trained sensory panel and, at a later stage, the participation of everyday consumers. They selected ambient orange juice as their product stimulus and they collected five different types of packaging: a clear glass bottle, a clear plastic bottle, a translucent plastic bottle with handle, a can and a carton. They removed the branding from the packaging samples to shift the focus onto format rather than logos, graphics and branding.
The researchers concluded that packaging format plays a key role in how consumers perceive the intensity of the flavour, aroma and mouthfeel of a product. The implication for R&D and marketing teams is that every time a new product is developed, packaging should be explored and developed alongside it. The pack must be in line with the sensory qualities of the product if manufacturers want to make the most out of their new proposition.
In the case of ambient orange juice, if a manufacturer wants to develop a more citrusy product, translucent plastic seems like a more appropriate packaging format, while glass sits at the other end of the scale. Similarly if ‘thickness in mouth’ is seen as a key product attribute then clear and rigid plastic is the right packaging material (Research Magazine, 20 July 2012).