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Can packaging affect the taste of chocolate?

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

chocolates in paper liners

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The food industry has become highly competitive in recent years. Every day, new products are being released into the stores.

Naturally, companies want to make their products stand out in this world of increased variety and alternatives for consumers. And when it comes to making a purchase, the packaging is one of the most important.

Even though many parts of the human sensory system are classified - sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch - it’s uncommon to have one kind of sensory input dominate over the others.

Humans learn to navigate the environment using various senses from an early age - and that doesn’t change as we become more educated and employ rational thinking more often.

Where are we going with this?

Food package design plays a fascinating role in the game of sensory appeal. After all, isn't the flavor and texture of the food that matters?

Well, according to recent studies, people's impressions of food packaging do influence their perceptions of the goods within.

But what about chocolate packaging? Can packaging affect the taste of chocolate?

To find out more details, keep on scrolling!

Do We Judge Chocolate By Its Packaging?

How much of your chocolate purchases are based on flavor - and how much on the gleam of the packaging?

New research confirms what we've thought for a long time:

The way chocolate is packaged has a more significant emotional impact than the actual flavor.

While the chocolate we buy is determined mainly by how it tastes, the research still indicates that how we experience that flavor on our tongue is impacted - to some degree - by how the treat was packaged.

According to that study, the flavor is still the most crucial element in influencing purchases - but taste perception is also impacted by the emotions elicited by packaging.

It appears that product design has a significant impact on our perception of certain items and the pleasure we get from them - to the point where, in some cases, it may be more important than what's inside the container.

Thes study participants rated the flavor of chocolate - and how they enjoyed six different packaging approaches - under three conditions:

  1. Blind tasting of chocolate (where they don’t see the chocolate nor its packaging)

  2. Packaging only (where they only see the packaging of the chocolate)

  3. Chocolate and packaging (where they see both packaging and chocolate and have read the information regarding the product)

Six distinct package designs were used to wrap the same chocolate, symbolizing the notions of “strong,” “joyful,” “every day,” “exceptional,” “healthy,” and “luxurious.”

6 kinds of packaging for experiment

Participants were instructed to match the samples to a vocabulary of emotion-based phrases at each phase.

The study aimed to see how packaging influences taste preference, investigate the emotions elicited by the packaging and the chocolate - and see if these characteristics influenced later desire to purchase.

The Interesting Findings Regarding Chocolate Packaging

Kinds of chocolate bars

Here’s what the co-lead investigator Frank R. Dunshea, Ph.D. said about their findings:

There’s a distinction between how customers evaluate brand-related indicators - such as flavor, scent, and texture - linked with sensory and perceptual mechanisms and how they interpret external cues - package materials, information, brand name, and pricing - that are related to psychological and cognitive mechanisms.

Furthermore, they claimed that packing information can impact customers' expectations and change their emotional response - whether their sensory experience confirms or contradicts their initial perception.

Participants' perceptions of the taste of the chocolates were influenced by their expectations based on the package designs - especially when those expectations weren’t satisfied.

Also, there was a positive correlation between enjoying the packaging and the flavor of the actual chocolate:

Participants' associations of happy feelings with the packaging had a direct impact on the acceptance of the chocolate.

The researchers also discovered that if the packaging had terms with positive connotations, consumers were more likely to appreciate both the design of the packaging and the flavor of the chocolate.

However, the most surprising finding was that when individuals could see the wrappers of the chocolate they were eating, they reported substantially higher emotional connections with it.

How Does The Packaging Shape Affect The Taste

book shape chocolate box

One of the two factors that have the most impact on a purchasing choice is the packing form. Of course, the packaging differs depending on the purpose and kind of goods.

Consumers often pay more attention to packaging that differs from the conventional or even flat-out generic packaging design in the market sector.

The form of the packaging may enhance the product's appeal while also assisting buyers in estimating the product's quantity and monetary worth.

And when it comes to food, it can also affect the sense of product flavor. Even if the product is not consumed yet, the taste sensations - sweet, salted, bitter, sour - can still be triggered.

That is usually accomplished through visual design - such as graphical content and colors - but the packing form generally has similar effects.

If the form matches the actual flavor of the product, both visual and taste categories are met and satisfied, resulting in a happy customer. However, if the consumers' expectations don't match the product's actual taste, it's improbable they'll buy that particular food product again.

How Does The Packaging Material Affect Taste?

chocolates wrapping with foil paper

The material is another feature that significantly impacts how customers perceive packaging. Multiple studies in the last ten or so years have shown that the choice of material influences the participants' emotions.

People's perceptions of a product - mainly its perceived quality - can be influenced by the materials used in packaging.

Buyers' expectations of the perceived product’s quality may be affected by different material characteristics, including durability, roughness, transparency, and coating. In practice, these factors are influenced by the type of product, its specifications, and protective needs.

For example, great chocolate packaging has to meet three crucial criteria and should:

  • Act as a barrier that will provide resistance to moisture, grease, and odors, prolonging the shelf life of the chocolate

  • Ensure food safety and prevent harmful chemicals from seeping into the chocolate and altering its taste or appearance

  • Protect the chocolate throughout the delivery and storage process, ensuring that it gets to the consumer looking as good as it tastes

To conclude, customer perceptions differ depending on the aesthetic, auditory, and physical, sensory variety of packaging materials.

In the case of chocolate, it’s more likely you’ll choose the ones that feature beautiful design, with textured packaging materials, or even shiny details - gold foil printing, for example.

In addition, the different parts of the packaging, such as the chocolate box lid, the wrapping material (aluminum foil or wax paper), chocolate cushion pads which can protect chocolate avoid it breaking, cup liners, or even the inside tray for chocolate candies (plastic or cardboard), can influence the way we perceive that chocolate to a large degree.

Just pay attention to expensive chocolate bars and boxes the next time you visit the store - and notice which colors and shapes are used.

It’s usually a more clean design, with shiny, emphasized details, quality packaging materials and textures, and typically - more rounded shapes.

Color Of The Packaging Plays The Big Role

different colors of chocolate packaging

When it comes to setting customers’ hopes on the expected flavor and quality of foods and beverages, color is the second crucial factor worth mentioning:

Changing the color tint or intensity and saturation of food and beverage items might have a significant influence on customers’ perceptions - and, thus, on their future experiences.

However, if the color doesn’t fit the actual flavor, the outcome might be negatively perceived.

The psychological influence of packaging color on flavor perception can also be linked to the person's taster status. Remember how, in the study mentioned above, the participants were more likely to choose more joyful packaging designs with positive connotations?

That’s because it’s proven that the darker the packaging colors and the design are, the more bitter we expect the chocolate to be.

Final Words

chocolate bar wrap with foil paper

To sum up this whole discussion on whether packaging affects the taste of chocolate or not - yes, it most certainly does. Well, at least according to many studies completed in recent years.

All that brings us to the conclusion that packaging design itself is one of the most important things when it comes to chocolate. And just like there’s a science behind chocolate making, there’s also some science behind the actual packaging.

So, now you know why we love fancy chocolate - packaged in high-quality materials and an exciting design - so much.

If you found this chocolate-related info interesting, be sure to share it with others!

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