New Study Reveals The Psychology Behind Labeling
When a consumer walks into a supermarket, the shelves are packed tight with different items, each competing for his or her attention. In such an environment, a brand must employ savvy and attractive packaging in order to grab the consumer and influence them into making the decision to purchase an item. How does a brand stand out in such a crowd? According to recent research, the answer may be psychological.
Before conducting the experiment, the report states researchers at Avery UK read 159 separate academic papers on labeling in order to guide their own study. After conducting this preliminary study, they used the information as a means of designing their experiment. Using a state-of-the-art eye-tracking apparatus, they tested 1,108 subjects to see where and how a label can lead the human eye, all under controlled laboratory conditions.
The report states the most successful labeling elements were found to heighten engagement among test subjects, increasing the probability of "loving" a package by 264% and of perceiving the package's contents as "high quality" by so much as 564%.
The report also provides a list of labeling elements deemed most effective in bringing about these increases in consumer engagement. These elements include clear presentation of product information, the use of a bright and distinguishable brand icon as well as bright and bold colors throughout, incorporation of a handwritten font, simple and relatable imagery, and a special or personalized message aimed at garnering an emotive consumer response.
According to the study, there are four stages of label design that should be followed.
The first is to choose the right label for the job, one that both increases the likelihood of it getting noticed and communicates the message best suited to represent the business.
The next stage involves grabbing the consumer’s attention. The report states:
Your label needs to cut through all the noise and grab a consumer’s attention by highlighting what the brain deems important.
In order to do so, the report provides seven ways for a label to generate attention, which include being in the middle of the product, using contrasting colors, incorporating surprising or unusual images or designs, guiding visually rather than textually, remaining simple, maintaining relevance to both product and consumer, and employing images and words that appeal to emotion.
The study also discusses the correlation between label design and decision-making, and the importance of garnering attention and interest from the consumer. Through conducting the experiment, the researchers gathered three important factors to consider in this equation.
First, humans have limited attention spans, which means that a label must be both compelling and simple enough to grab that attention and convince a consumer to engage with the product, which will hopefully lead to a purchase. Second, human decision making is almost always based on emotions — people tend to purchase items with their hearts rather than through logic. Duly, a package must appeal to emotion through relatable and personal labeling. Lastly, human decision making capabilities rely heavily on heuristics, a process of deduction that seeks the fulfillment of an immediate goal through practical rather than perfect means.
According to the study, if a label includes an endorsement or recommendation, or if it features signification of awards, then people are more likely to purchase the product. From a consumer standpoint, a label that appeals both to quality and practicality can succeed in guiding a heuristically-made decision as well as in creating a loyal, returning customer.
While it may seem obvious that labeling is an integral part of the packaging process, it may have been less obvious as to why. With this study, Avery UK has provided evidence that labeling is not just a marketing strategy, but also a predictable and controllable science of consumer psychology.