Targeting and Packaging Low Fat Products: Uncontroled and Controled Variables
Marcelo Royo-Vela*, Natalia Vila-López and Inés Küster-Boluda
Facullty of Economics, Department of Commercialization and Market Research, University of Valencia, Spain
Submission: June 22, 2019; Published: August 13, 2019
*Corresponding author: Marcelo Royo-Vela, Faculty of Economics, Department of Commercialization and Market Research, University of Valencia, Avda. de los Naranjos s/n, 46022 Valencia, Spain
How to cite this article: Marcelo Royo-Vela, Natalia Vila-López and Inés Küster-Boluda. Targeting and Packaging Low Fat Products: Uncontroled and Controled Variables. Nutri Food Sci Int J. 2019. 9(2): 555757. DOI:10.19080/NFSIJ.2019.09.555757.
Marketing low fat products has to pay attention to both, personal variables and packaging design variables. On the one hand, personal factors such as socio-demographic characteristics (age, gender, income and education), involvement, time pressure, motivation and lifestyle affect food-buying process. On the other hand, packaging variables such as colour, graphics, size, shape, typography also affect the buying decision.
Keywords: Low fat product, Decision-buying process, Personal factors, Packaging factors
Packaging is becoming a relevant variable to sell foods products [1-2]. According to [3-4], this importance is based on three marketing and consumer behavior trends: increasing efforts on sales promotions and on point of purchase communications, buying decisions are made in the retailing shop and, the need for a more intensive product differentiation from competitors in the shop. As regards low fat aliments, they can be seen as a marketing response, including the low fat packaging design, to current consumer life styles and eating habits, such as high-calorie foods, high in sugars and saturated fats, hydrogenated oils or poor fiber intake  that result in overweight and obesity among other diseases .
Personal Uncontrolled Variables Affecting Packaging Design for Low Fat Products
Research has probed that factors affecting consumer preferences for nutritional labeling are clearly related to the health status of the individuals, information use -whether or no individuals read nutritional labels- and socio-demographics i.e. education, income, age and gender [7-8]. Individuals with higher education are aware of nutritional benefits of low-fat aliments and search in the packaging this information more than less educated consumers. Also, older and higher income buyers tend to favor the search for healthy products. Regarding gender, women seem to be stronger buyers of low-fat aliments than men and search packages with healthy claims largely due to protective feelings regarding family and children. A result also supported by  who found that women are significantly more involved in food than men, being also more worried than men about weight control and health. Regarding age, according to  children and adolescents react towards some food and beverage companies announcing healthy products.
In low involvement situations, consumers do not search extensively for information or process it about the brands, evaluate or compare their characteristics, and make a weighty decision on which brand to buy or like . According to  going to food markets cannot be considered as a low involvement activity. Consumers are used to search for specific brands and are really concern about the food products they want to buy. In case they are worried about obesity and other nutritional disorders, they will search for packages that clearly explain the advantages and/or the risks of the food products. However, and on the contrary, other stream of literature states that packaged food products remain low in involvement for many consumers. From this point of view, consumer acquisition of food products is done without carefully examining brand and product information. The lack of commitment and attention implies that information on the package has little value for consumers . Therefore, depending on consumers’ level of involvement with the product, their interest in the evaluated products and their reaction towards packaging information and design variables will be different . Thus, involvement could be useful as a segmentation variable when launching new low fat foods to the market in the way that low fat aliments should strongly attend involved people, clearly showing its advantages, because these people are more concern against unhealthy products that noninvolved people, ready to by almost everything.
Underline that time pressure is becoming an ever more important factor that packaging designers should address. When buying food products, the influence of packaging visual elements on choice is stronger when consumers have less time in which to make the product choice, and weaker when they do not have time pressure. It means that the influence of informational elements on choice is stronger when consumers have more time to make their choice. When people have time pressure, they tend to perceive less information from the package, and thus, the influence of informational elements will be weaker. However, technology is somewhat of a special case relative to the other types of informational elements, because packaging technology is often linked to convenience food products, and convenience has become increasingly important . Thus, if consumers are worried about time saving, they will pay more attention to claims of new technology, because of technology’s association with convenience. New packaging technology or new technology claimed on packaging has a more positive effect on the purchase decision under time pressure than without it . Therefore, when firms want to sell low fat products, they have to pay attention to the factor that time pressures in the point of purchase will not help the selling. For this reason, the use of technologically advanced packaging can be a weapon to gain consumers. In this regard, one of the latest advances has been launching light packaging to attract consumer’s attention.
Consumers have different motives to buy food. According to , research suggests that individual differences in motivation to process nutrition information impacts consumers’ processing, use, and evaluation of nutrition information. A construct understood as a disposition to attend to nutrition information that reflects goal-directed arousal, and which has an influence on how and what nutrition information is attended . In this line of research, several papers have addressed the motivation of mothers when buying healthy products for their children and the difficulties to know to whom the packaging should be addressed . In this particular case of healthy food products for children, both children and mothers have to be attracted to the product. The psychological effects of packaging should not be underestimated, especially in an increasingly competitive retailing environment where a product on shelf has one-tenth of a second to spark off purchase.
Lifestyle variables perform a significant role explaining how consumers make food decisions, i.e. consumption of functional products [18-19]. Healthy lifestyle is understood as the general way of life based on the interaction between the living conditions in the broadest sense and individual patterns of behaviour determined by sociocultural factors and personal characteristics . As this author proposes, this healthy lifestyle considers sports, food consumption, sleep and rest. According to  people change their dietary habits to maintain and improve their health and use functional foods to reach a healthier life. In this line of research,  researched the relationship among food patterns, sleep habits and sport activity. Related to physical activity, the review by  identify several studies where the relationship between physical activity and nutrition is evident in both secondary and high schools' students. Also  defend the link of sport practice and food intake.
Companies Controlled Factors to Pay attention when Packaging Design for Low Fat Products
Non-verbal and verbal cues
Visual cues (graphics) include layout, colour combinations, shape, typography, and product photography, all of which create an image . When scanning packages in the supermarket, the differential perception and the positioning of the graphics elements on a package may make the difference between identifying and missing an item [25-26] stated that claims that emphasize ‘‘heart healthiness” might have an accompanying symbol, such as a large red heart on the front of the package or next to the menu item.  found relevant the presence of a picture on the label showing the most important variables, regardless of consumers’ involvement with the product. A result supported by [27-28] who asserted that impulsive consumers, to assist in their choice, tended to rely intensively on the extrinsic attributes of the packaging, especially pack photography. Regarding colour, some colours denote more health than others denote, i.e. green . More natural-looking shapes, medium size and easy to use packaging seems to be effective attributes for addressing low fat products [13,30-31]. For his part,  also highlights the importance of a multisensory stimulation when designing a brand's packaging, including attributes such as colour or shape.
Written cues on the package can assist consumers in making their decisions carefully as they consider product characteristics. However, packaging information can create confusion by conveying either too much information or misleading and inaccurate information. Manufacturers often use very small fonts and very dense writing styles to pack extensive information onto the label, which lead to poor readability and sometimes confusion . Many consumers appreciate food labelling but are not satisfied with standard formats . As  found, while no tall consumers use it, the trend seems to be toward increasing attention to label information. Partly, concerns about food safety and nutritional health drive this trend . Research by  confirm the relevance of packaging informative cues over visual cues for adolescents highly worried about weight control and health. However, when looking for healthy and low-fat aliments visual cues (size, colours, images etc.) are more important for consumers than informational cues (label design, easily understandable words, size of the letters). Additionally, age is a pertinent variable to explain alternative packaging strategies, because adolescents and young adults do not pay equal attention to both packaging cues .
When designing marketing for a low-fat product package a set of variables with higher or lower control level by companies should take into consideration. Some are related to the potential consumer characteristics and some others to the packaging itself. Regarding personal characteristics, it can be said that a low-fat consumer is a woman, of mature age, with medium/high level of income, having a medium/high education level and involved about food and health. As regards package characteristics, this should have a picture on the label showing the benefits of the product (i.e. a healthy heart), green colour, medium/small sizes, easy to use and natural-looking shapes.
The research project is funded by the Spanish Minister of Economy and Competitiveness. Project: “Alimentos reducidos en grasas y jóvenes. Cómo mejorar su comercialización”. Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. Program I+D+i CSO2013-42524-R.
- Rettie R, Brewer C (2000) The verbal and visual components of package design. Journal of Product & Brand Management 9(1): 56-70.
- Wells LE, Farley H, Armstrong GA (2007) The importance of packaging design for own-label food brands. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management 35(9): 677-690.
- Underwood RL, Klein NM, Burke RR (2001) Packaging communication: attentional effects of product imagery. Journal of Product & Brand Management 10(7): 403-422.
- Underwood RL (2003) The communicative power of product packaging: creating brand identity via lived and mediated experience. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice 11(1): 62-76.
- OMS (2012) Obesidad y sobrepeso, Organización Mundial de la Salud.
- Berthoud HR (2011) The neurobiology of food intake in an obesogenic environment. The Winter Meeting of the Nutrition Society, Royal College of Physicians, London.
- Nayga RM (2001) Effect of schooling on obesity: is health knowledge a moderating factor?. Education Economics 9: 129-137.
- Loureiro M, Gracia A, Nayga R (2006) Do consumers value nutritional labels?. European Review of Agricultural Economics 33(2): 249-268.
- Vila-López N, Kuster-Boluda I (2016) Adolescents’ food packaging perceptions. Does gender matter when weight control and health motivations are considered?. Food quality and preference 52: 179-187.
- Harrison P, Jackson M (2013) Integrated marketing communications and power imbalance: the strategic nature of marketing to children and adolescents by food and beverage companies. Advances in Communication Research to Reduce Childhood Obesity, Springer, New York, pp. 33-76.
- Royo-Vela M (2002) Advertising Communication. An integrated and management approach. Madrid, Minerva (Ed).
- Beharrell B, Denison TJ (1995) Involvement in a routine food-shopping context. British Food Journal 97(4): 24-29.
- Silayoi P, Speece M (2004) Packaging and purchase decisions: an exploratory study on the impact of involvement level and time pressure. British Food Journal 106(8): 607-628.
- Ares G, Besio M, Giménez A, Deliza R (2010) Relationship between involvement and functional milk desserts intention to purchase. Influence on attitude towards packaging characteristics. Appetite 55(2): 298-304.
- Warde A (1999) Convenience food: space and timing. British Food Journal 101(7): 518-527.
- Kemp E, Burton S, Creyer EH, Suter TA (2007) When do nutrient content and nutrient content claims matter? Assessing consumer tradeoffs between carbohydrates and fat. Journal of Consumer Affairs 41(1): 47-73.
- Gelperowic R, Beharrell B (1994) Healthy food products for children: packaging and mothers’ purchase decisions. British Food Journal 96(11): 4-8.
- Urala N, Lähteenmäki L (2004) Attitudes behind consumers' willingness to use functional foods. Food quality and preference 15(7-8): 793-803.
- Verbeke W (2006) Functional foods: Consumer willingness to compromise on taste for health? Food quality and preference 17(1-2): 126-131.
- Grimaldo M (2010) Calidad de vida y estilo de vida saludable en un grupo de estudiantes de posgrado de la ciudad de Lima. Pensamiento psicológico 8(15):17-38.
- Chen MF (2011) The joint moderating effect of health consciousness and healthy lifestyle on consumers’ willingness to use functional foods in Taiwan. Appetite 57(1): 253-262.
- Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Garaulet M (2017) Meal patterns, physical activity, sleep, and circadian rhythm. In Advances in the Assessment of Dietary Intake, CRC Press, pp. 113-128.
- Talati Z, Pettigrew S, Neal B, Dixon H, Hughes C, et al. (2017) Consumers’ responses to health claims in the context of other on-pack nutrition information: A systematic review. Nutrition reviews 75(4): 260-273.
- Meyer N, Reguant-Closa A (2017) Eat as If You Could Save the Planet and Win! Sustainability Integration into Nutrition for Exercise and Sport. Nutrients 9(4): 412.
- Herrington JD, Capella LM (1995) Shopper reactions to perceived time pressure. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management 23(12): 13-20.
- Kozup JC, Creyer EH, Burton S (2003) Making healthful food choices: the influence of health claims and nutrition information on consumers’ evaluations of packaged food products and restaurant menu items. Journal of Marketing 67(2): 19-34.
- Rundh B (2009) Packaging design: creating competitive advantage with product packaging. British Food Journal 111(9): 988-1002.
- Rundh B (2005) The multi-faceted dimension of packaging: marketing logistic or marketing tool?. British Food Journal 107(9): 670-684.
- Vila-López N, Küster-Boluda I (2014) Packing decision for low fat aliments: a review. Nutrition & Food Science 44(3): 212-222.
- Berkowitz M (1987) Product shape as a design innovation strategy. Journal of Product Innovation Management 4(4): 274-283.
- Holmes GR, Paswan A (2012) Consumer reaction to new package design. Journal of Product & Brand Management 21(2): 109-116.
- Spence C (2016) Multisensory packaging design: colour, shape, texture, sound, and smell. In Integrating the Packaging and Product Experience in Food and Beverages, pp. 1-22.
- Smith D, Riethmuller P (1999) Consumer concerns about food safety in Australia and Japan. International Journal of Social Economics 26(6): 724-742.
- Vila-López, N, Küster-Boluda I, Sarabia-Sánchez F (2017) Designing a packaging to promote healthy and low-fat foods: Adolescents versus young-adults. Food Res 99(pt 1): 815-820.