The printed text on a food or beverage label is there for two reasons: Packages have to inform consumers about the contents and relative nutritional value of what they're about to eat, while also selling that product and making it attractive to consumers. While it can be tempting to view these two roles as opposites to be balanced, a consumer preference for transparency and clarity may be simplifying companies' approach to labeling.
As brands reset their priorities for 2018, labeling is potentially one of the major items to add to their checklists. While changing a label design may not have the same perceived impact as launching a new marketing campaign, its cumulative effect could be even greater. When consumers are actually in stores, making the final decision about which brand to pick, labels are the last variable they consider.
Information and Style Combined
In the battle between informative and good-looking labels, consumers want to have it all. Food Dive added that when polled by Luminer, 60 percent of shoppers said they'd likely reject an item that didn't disclose enough information on the label, with 33 percent stating they'd probably put down an item with bad packaging design sense. Combining the need to make informed purchasing decisions with shoppers' preference for well-chosen imagery and colors means firms need to find a way to make informative text look good. Skimping on either info or imagery is a major flaw.
Of course, there's another element that could sway a shopper's decision: a discount. Food Dive added that 56 percent of consumers can have their attention won by an additional label feature such as a coupon, a rebate or a recipe. This preference for extra info doesn't remove the need for either style or substance, but it does add another option to a label designer's arsenal.
When it comes to winning customers over through information and design, companies may find they're fighting an uphill battle. Forbes contributor Leslie Wu pointed out that the audience for food and beverage products has become cynical and doubtful about the promises printed on foods, perhaps due to recent food-quality problems. A Mintel survey of Canadians found that four-fifths of adults don't trust what they read on product packages.
Recent years have seen large-scale recalls and consumers may be hesitant to trust companies' promises. Manufacturers that become better at illuminating their sources and supply chains may fare the best at overcoming cynicism and giving consumers labels they can believe in.