This “subtle” effect is limited to items that aren’t obviously natural but can boost purchase intention.
Product packaging is a fundamental marketing decision which a wide spectrum of consumers come into contact with, and which communicates important cues about a product. This study focuses on the texture of food product packaging. The impact of matte surfaces was investigated across three experiments in a range of conditions which included presenting products both individually and in groups, and both online and offline. Visual and haptic (touch based) inspections were tested.
The results showed that simply by changing the texture of the packaging the perceived naturalness of the product was altered. Items in matte packaging were expected to be more natural than those in glossy packaging. And if a product was seen as natural, consumers also expected it to taste better and were more likely to want to buy it. These perceptions didn’t depend on consumers being able to touch the items, so could also be relevant for online retailers.
The authors qualify the findings by adding that the effect was only seen when no more obvious indications of naturalness were present. As such they speculate that it could potentially be used to “mislead” consumers about artificial food products.
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