Meat-Eaters in the UK and USA More Likely to Try Plant-Based Meat in Red Packaging

A new study has concluded that meat-eaters are more willing to experiment with plant-based products that come in red packaging.

The report, conducted by ProVeg International and titled, “The Power of Colour: Nudging Consumers Toward Plant-Based Meat Consumption,” provides insights into the influence of colours on consumer perceptions around flavour and appeal. ProVeg states that the careful choice of colouring has the “power to reshape consumer behaviour and prompt a shift toward plant-based meat”.

“When someone thinks something tastes good, they’re more likely to try it, regardless of whether or not they eat animal products”

The survey included 1,200 participants, predominantly omnivores, from the US and the UK. Participants were questioned on their feelings and opinions when exposed to vegetarian and vegan products packaged in a variety of warm and cool tones (green, blue, purple, yellow, orange, or red). The findings reveal that red was the colour most often connected with tastiness by all participants regardless of their diet, with 56% of UK consumers and 54% of US consumers associating the colour red with superior taste in plant-based meat.

Redefine Beef pack shot
© Redefine Meat

The report’s author, Ajsa Spahic, explains, “Previous studies have shown that colours evoke subconscious emotional reactions. Yet, little attention has been given to how colours specifically affect perceptions of plant-based products. The colour red has been shown to arouse and stimulate, so we wanted to see how people responded to red in plant-based packaging. Remarkably, our study found that people who regularly consume meat were more inclined to try a plant-based protein for the first time when it was packaged in red.”

Red = less healthy, more satisfactory connotations

Similarly, GWP states that “Reds are also widely used in food packaging applications, as many believe it helps trigger appetite. Regardless of the colour psychology of red packaging, this colour almost guarantees an attention-grabbing appearance”.

Interestingly, as cited by Food Quality and Preference in 2017: “Red (a ‘warm’) colour symbolises less healthy attributes/products (Schuldt, 2013, van Rompay et al., 2016),” suggesting in this context that meat-eaters are drawn towards the sensory satisfaction of meat and away from any health-promoting properties as often found with plant-based foods.

LikeMeat burgers in packaging with grill
Image courtesy of ProVeg International

Pleasure over preaching

As per the van Rompay et al study, the takeaway here for producers of plant-based products aiming to attract omnivores is that the standard greens could be subconsciously offputting to the average meat-eater, who, ultimately, wants to enjoy the taste of a product, and not to be preached on health and eco matters.

“Green is most often used in plant-based packaging. Participants associated green with healthfulness and eco-friendliness. But some people just aren’t attracted to that type of product or are motivated by those considerations. Someone who’s used to eating meat might see it as less satisfying or less flavourful – even when it’s the exact same product packaged in green. Red, on the other hand, appealed to a much broader range of consumers. When someone thinks something tastes good, they’re more likely to try it, regardless of whether or not they eat animal products,” said Spahic.

“First impressions matter, because we eat with our eyes as well as with our mouth. Simply using red packaging made people more willing to experiment with vegetarian and vegan foods,” she adds.

Read the full report here: “The Power of Colour: Nudging Consumers Toward Plant-Based Meat Consumption”

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