Wine labelsEasy to Read Labelling Means Increased Purchases

The food and drink market is more competitive than ever. The design of the label could have a greater impact than you think on boosting sales.

According to the UK Department for International Trade, there are approximately 10,000 new food and drink products introduced in the UK every year. As the market becomes ever more saturated, it becomes increasingly difficult to get noticed and steal a march on the competitors.

Attractive packaging has always been an important part of the marketing mix that gets plenty of attention from designers and marketing gurus, as they work day and night to outdo the competition. Yet you might be surprised at just how important the clarity and design of your food label is when it comes to influencing buyer behaviour.

Research in France

Grenoble Ecole de Management is one of the top business schools and research institutes in Europe. Research conducted at the institute under the leadership of Associate Professor Caroline Werle suggests that labels that are uncluttered and easy to read win hands down over useful information and gimmicks in terms of increasing consumer purchases.

Professor Werle carried out two in-depth studies that assessed the buying preferences of 584 participants. She asked them to consider a wide range of products, which she had previously mapped according to two parameters: Whether they were healthy or unhealthy, and whether the labels were easy or difficult to read.

The results showed a marked consumer preference in favour of products with easy-to-read labels – in fact, this was the main deciding factor on whether the participants would buy a product or not, and was certainly of far greater influence than whether it was healthy or unhealthy.

Simple label equals simple purchase

There are a number of possible explanations for this interesting result, the most probable being that a clear food label that is easily read makes for a straightforward, uncomplicated purchase decision. This in turn gives purchasers a positive overall reaction, and the subconscious idea that they will enjoy the product.

Implications for the food labelling industry

These results have certainly raised some eyebrows among designers and marketers involved in food and drink labelling. If the “less is more” approach really has such a big impact on buying decisions, we could soon be seeing a whole new generation of minimalist label designs.

However, it is not just the sales and marketing teams that are interested in these results. Regulators and health watchdogs will be quick to notice other implications that could also have an impact on the industry.

Specifically, the evidence suggests that a clear, easily read label is more likely to make consumers think they will enjoy a product, even if it is unhealthy. It is no great leap of logic to conclude that a healthier alternative with a more detailed, and therefore less clear, label, will actually turn potential buyers away by providing more information as to its benefits.

If this is the case, then regulations that standardise all food labelling could be closer to reality than we think – however, there can be little doubt that a great deal more lengthy and detailed research must be carried out before such a step receives serious consideration.