More than meets the “human eye”

MilanoCan package design really be as simplistic and formulaic as this new research report from a team at the University of Miami business school suggests?

Saw a short article in the New York Times today on some package design research that they will release in December in The Journal of Marketing, and it got my attention.

This research indicated, based on a sample of 270 cracker and cookie packages, that rich full bodied food products put the image of the product in the lower or right portion of the front panels, and 66% of the time, “light” products most often put the product in the upper left.

The fascinating thing about the article was the author’s suggestion of what the results could imply,

“These rules, which apparently spring from the way the human eye approaches an image, are not part of the conventional wisdom of marketing.”

I suggest that there is a whole lot more going on in the cookie category, and any other category, than this simple observation might imply about the nature of the human eye.

For one thing the cookie category is dominated by a small number of large companies. Nabisco has had 5-6 of the top ten cookie brands for more than a decade, and only three companies, Kraft, Kellogg, and Pepperidge Farm, account for around 70% of the branded, non private-label cookie sales. My hunch is that the design systems of these major companies may have much more influence on the overall look of the category than “the way the human eye approaches an image”.

But to be fair to the authors of the report, I will be interested in seeing more of the research when it is published. My suspicion is that there is more here than meets the human eye.

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About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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One Response to More than meets the “human eye”

  1. Pingback: Product Placement on Packaging Impacts Consumer Perception | Lightning Labels Blog

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