HFSS and new implications for: packaging & design.

Posted by Chris Peach on the 26th August, 2021
In the past we’ve seen designers opting for lighter, paler colours to communicate healthy or ‘diet’ variants and product lines, but experience from testing packs in many categories reveals that while this can land the desired health message, in turn people interpret paler colours as bland tasting. The challenge is to balance taste AND health. Difficult, but not impossible.

Early findings from the Walnut Omnibus reveals that the majority of Brits are not strongly concerned about fat, sugar, and salt consumption, but over half are looking for ‘healthier’ products – it’s therefore important that brands are aware of matters in their specific category since this will determine the right approach for them to take in navigating new HFSS legislation.

Knowing this will determine how their packaging design can visualise that positioning, from minimal changes focussed on the legals, to a more overt change in design that aims to signal change and drive reappraisal.

Removing nasties from food and drink products is not a new challenge for brands or packaging designers, but nowadays marketeers are much more savvy about how behavioural science can be used to encourage change.

An understanding of how to articulate any change is a sensible starting point and our ClaimsOptimiser technique which draws upon both behavioural science for subtle phrasing of claims, and neuroscience to measure the unconscious emotional conviction behind them, is perfect to identify more effective claims for your brand.

Next up, we need to understand how and what different design elements like colours, shapes and visual are communicating. Health might be an increasing concern, but taste is likely to remain the biggest purchase driver for many products. How is your pack currently communicating taste and how far can this be stretched without risking taste impressions and alienating existing buyers?

In the past we’ve seen designers opting for lighter, paler colours to communicate healthy or ‘diet’ variants and product lines, but experience from testing packs in many categories reveals that while this can land the desired health message, in turn people interpret paler colours as bland tasting. The challenge is to balance taste AND health. Difficult, but not impossible.

A sensible approach would be to visualise a series of design concepts where health is gradually dialled up. An initial exploration, most likely using a qualitative tool like our PACKOPTIMISER approach would identify how far the brand’s identity can be stretched, balancing health vs taste, the need to maintain appeal among existing buyers, while reaching out, engaging and driving reappraisal among your new target audience.

Eliminating options and refining those that succeed will likely lead on to a desire for a more robust (quant) validation and our PACKMASTER tool is best placed for that, measuring shelf impact, communication and purchase behaviour using the latest neuroscience tools to measure implicit emotional conviction and integrating eyetracking to reveal what they really see. With years of experience our packaging normative database includes over 1,300 UK food and drink packs to put your results into context.

Alternatively, draw upon our new Agile PACKMASTER tool, a light touch solution that comes with both a pack deepdive and shelf-based metrics. Agility and a low price point allows it to double up as both a validation tool and a screening tool to narrow down options and enable iterative learning.

Meet the Author: Chris Peach
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