Transparent packaging: More than just a bag?

Published: 2013-08-06

Assistant Professor Xiaoyan Deng

A study by Fisher's Xiaoyan Deng examining consumption patterns and food packaging found that what's in the bag is just as important as what's on the bag.

It found that the transparency of food packaging influences snacking habits in different ways depending on the size, visual appeal, and healthiness of the food it contains. Additional findings include:

  • Consumption of small, visually attractive snacks like candy increases when the food is sold in transparent packaging. Conversely, this type of packaging decreases consumption of larger snacks like cookies and healthy snacks like baby carrots.
  • For larger snacks, see-through packaging can help snackers monitor their consumption -- something they can't do as effectively with smaller snacks, which are harder to count.
  • For healthy snacks, people regard them as low in taste and general appeal. So when they see the carrots, they eat fewer of them, even though they know the veggies are good for them.

The study, in collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin, also offered marketers advice for foods that showed no difference in consumption patterns regardless of their packaging. Marketers of small foods that are not visually appealing, like Cheerios, can package their product in opaque materials while improving the visual appeal of their products for eventual transparent packaging.