Packaging: The most commonly used colours to sell food & drink

Colour psychology plays a major role in advertising and the subsequent success of sales, as a recent Electrix study highlights.

coloured jellybeans
The food and beverage sector is saturated with consumer products that range from biscuits and cakes to beer and soda. To stand out among a crowded market, manufacturers and marketers join forces to come up with eye-catching packaging that will help them be the next product a shopper picks up on their way round the grocery store.

Colour psychology plays a major role in the advertising and subsequent success of sales. Package colour has a visible effect on consumers and can draw them into aisles or have them leaving the shop if it’s too much or too little.

To see which colors are used the most, Electrix, a major supplier of electrical enclosures and cable management systems to the industry, has analysed nearly 5,000 supermarket products to find out which shade is used the most to
influence the buying habits of grocery shoppers.

What is the magic colour?

Across 10 categories, which include biscuits, chocolate, fizzy drinks, and ice cream, the most used colour for packaging is dark blue. In fact, 14% of all products analysed are packaged and marketed to consumers using a deeper,
darker shade of blue.

The theme for less vibrant colours follows suit in second and third place, with light gray (10%) and black (9.5%) joining dark blue in the top picks for packaging. On the opposite side of the coin, you’re less likely to see cyan (four items), light
purple (nine Items) and yellow (nine Items) on everyday items, with subtle, more pleasing on the eye colours being used to help increase sales.

Category crunching

On closer inspection of the categories, the use of dark blue tends to be complimented by red and gold for biscuits and red and light blue for sweets. The following list shows a full overview of the products analyzed and the colours used
to stand out on shelves:

1. Biscuits (559 Products) – Dark Blue, Gold, Red
2. Canned Food (560 Products) – Dark Blue, Light Gray, Green
3. Cereal (453 Products) – Light Yellow, Dark Blue, Gold
4. Chocolate (560 products) – Dark Blue, Black, Light Gray
5. Coffee (544 products) – Black, Light Gray, Dark Blue
6. Potato Chips (560 products) – Black, Light Gray, Dark Red
7. Soda Drinks (214 products) – Light Gray, Red, Black
8. Ice Creams (282 products) – Light Gray, Dark Blue, Black
9. Sweets (541 products) – Dark Blue, Red, Light Blue
10. Tea (532 products) – Black, Light Gray, Dark Blue

Just 27% of products had one colour on their packaging and the category with the most consistency is chocolate. Coffee is most likely to have more than one colour on its packaging with caffeine lovers treated to more variation on the
front of their jars.

The breakdown of product types and the amount of colours used for each is detailed below, with coffee, tea, and biscuits very similar in terms of results.

Department     +1 Colour     1 Colour
coffee                 9.05%            2.27%
tea                       8.89%            2.19%
biscuits               8.41%            3.23%
canned food      8.24%            3.41%
Potato chips      8.03%            3.62%
chocolate           7.58%            4.08%
sweets                7.53%            3.73%
cereal                  7.35%            2.08%
ice creams         4.77%            1.10%
soda drinks        3.20%            1.25%
Table of product types and the percentage amount of colours used on their packaging.


What will the future bring for packaging?

A brand’s identity is closely linked to the colours it uses because colours often resonate with strong emotions. With dark blues, bold blacks, and light grays dominating packaging, will we see a change in approach for the future? Will the fact there’s so much importance now on living a greener lifestyle change our opinions on packaging looks and the colours being used. Will we see more vibrance and the use of green to showcase that a product has sustainability at the heart of its design? Only time will tell.

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