An exploratory study using graphic design to communicate consumer benefits on food packaging

H.N.J. Schifferstein*, M. Lemke, A. de Boer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Commercial food packages may contain multiple messages. Packaging designers try to integrate all messages into a coherent design. Designers may use text, images or stylistic features, but these mediums may differ in their suitability to communicate specific product benefits. To evaluate the usefulness and effectiveness of these three mediums, we not only obtained consumer evaluations of packaging designs, but we also monitored the designer's experience during the design process. For three products (orange juice, muesli bar, plain yogurt) we created three consistent packaging designs communicating a single benefit through all three mediums, which was either a [1] health, [2] environmental, or [3] production, sensory or social claim. Subsequently, we developed inconsistent packages communicating three different messages through the three mediums. In an online survey, each of the 18 package variants was evaluated by 59-92 participants. Dummy regression analysis suggested that verbal claims had positive effects in communicating healthiness and environmental friendliness but elicited a negative tendency for sensory properties. The images we used indicated a positive effect for communicating worker conditions, but a negative effect for healthiness. Our stylistic elements suggested a positive effect for sensory appeal, but tended to have negative effects for environmental aspects. As regards designer dilemmas, we noticed that some images (e.g., in the medical domain) required specific graphic styles to make them acceptable for commercial use. Our findings suggest that consumers can handle multiple packaging messages, but finding an optimal configuration remains a design challenge.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104458
Number of pages15
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • Health
  • Sustainability
  • Food design
  • Packaging
  • Image perception
  • Verbal claims

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