Using The Colour Of Coffee Packaging To Shape Consumer Perceptions

TJ Grant
February 25, 2021
coffee packaging on orange background

What has the biggest impact on the purchasing decision of a consumer? Is it price? Product reviews? Logos? The shape of packaging?

A report by KISSMetrics found that 85% of consumers believe colour is the primary driving force behind their decisions to buy products. According to the study, the colour of packaging can shape perceptions of a company and its values, build brand recognition, and inspire consumer confidence. Certain colours can even produce powerful emotional reactions, from excitement to melancholy.

For specialty coffee roasters, it’s important to understand how they can harness the effects of colour to their benefit, whether to draw attention to their brand, promote a limited edition range, or even to highlight certain flavour notes.

Read on to find out more about the psychology behind different colours and how they can be put to use in coffee packaging.

See also: The Power Of Design: Using Creative Coffee Packaging To Attract Customers

mtpak multicolour pouches

Why Does The Colour Of Packaging Matter?

On an average trip to the supermarket, customers are exposed to more than 40,000 different brands. With a typical visit lasting around 40 minutes, this means that just over half a second is dedicated to each product. 

As such, it’s essential that companies do everything they can to make their product stand out on the shelf. It needs not only to attract attention, but also to reflect the quality of the brand and its identity. 

In a paper on how the colour of packaging influences customers’ buying preferences, Saad Ahmed and Sara Javed state that during an ordinary shopping trip, customers read less than ten lines of text, leaving the majority of communication down to colour, images, and shape.

“Packaging colour plays an extremely vital role in communicating with customers,” they write. “It can arouse interest in a product and motivate customers to buy it. The proper use of colours can also aid in distinguishing and directing attitudes towards certain products; it’s about three times more important than retail price in shaping consumers’ purchasing decisions.”

Further research supports this view, showing that packaging colour is the most important factor when purchasing a product because consumers register colour much faster than other forms of information.

“Marketing specialists WebPageFX [found that] consumers make a subconscious judgement about a product in less than 90 seconds of viewing it,” writes Nikki Clark in an article for Packaging News. “Between 62% and 90% of them base that assessment solely on colour, which registers much faster than text or complex graphics.”

coffee packaging on yellow background

The Emotional Impact Of Different Colours

Have you ever looked at the colour purple and felt a deep sense of calm? Or perhaps the colour yellow has made you feel youthful and optimistic? If so, you’re not alone: colours have been scientifically shown to have a powerful impact on the human brain, particularly regarding emotions.

For example, red has been found to create a sense of urgency. It can quicken the heart rate, and stimulate feelings of excitement, movement, and passion. Red is often used as a way of drawing attention, especially when the aim is to inspire an action on the part of the consumer. It’s for this reason that clearance sales and limited time offers will usually be splashed in red.

Blue, on the other hand, engenders a sense of security and promotes trust in a brand. It induces feelings of calm and stimulates productivity, creating a sense of tranquility and space. 

This is unlike yellow, a colour that can increase cheerfulness and optimism when used sparingly, but can also create a sense of anxiety if overdone. This is thought to be because of its attention-grabbing qualities, which makes it a popular choice for warnings and traffic signs.

Fast food giant McDonald’s is one company that clearly understands the powerful emotional impact of colours and, as a result, has used it to enhance their brand image among consumers.

In 2007, under growing pressure from environmental activists, they announced a series of environmental and social initiatives, which included the adoption of organic milk and sustainably sourced coffee. Because green is often associated with eco-friendliness, McDonald’s decided to replace their classic branding with sage green across European outlets to communicate their commitment to sustainability.

“Green is frequently used for promoting products that have been produced in an ecological and environmentally friendly way,” Nikki explains in the article for Packaging News. “It’s the main colour associated with being fresh, healthy, natural, organic, or vegetarian; green is the perfect choice if you want to emphasise or make a claim about natural ingredients.”

Similarly, when different colours are used to complement each other, they can have a multifarious effect. Complementary colours have been found to be visually stimulating, and can convey different ideas about a company’s personality. For example, Subway uses the colours green and yellow together to invoke feelings of optimism, immediacy, and healthy living.

qima coffee bag

Coffee, Colour & Perceptions Of Flavour

For specialty coffee roasters, incorporating the right colours into your coffee packaging can help set your product apart and communicate your brand identity to consumers. Some businesses may even use it to reflect certain characteristics of the coffee, such as origin, flavour notes, or processing methods. 

Onyx Coffee Lab has used this approach to great effect. While each of their pouches come in a distinctive black, they add colour-coded labels after filling the pouches to depict the strength, blend, flavour notes, and elevation of the coffee inside.

Similarly, Archer Farms Coffee incorporates a bright red rooster across all their coffee packaging. As well as producing a striking emblem, the red brings the energy-inducing effects of caffeine to the fore, helping to promote the benefits of coffee as a stimulating drink. 

For roasters who want to put forward an image of affordability, perhaps for a robusta-arabica blend, the colour orange may be the most suitable. Research shows that orange is associated with affordability and reasonable quality, an advantage for specialty coffee roasters who want to extend their market reach.

Conversely, for a special edition range such as a limited edition single origin, roasters might consider using a combination of black and gold. Black can enhance perceptions of value, quality, and sophistication, while the inclusion of gold helps to add a sense of luxuriousness and exclusivity. 

In some cases, the colour of coffee packaging will not only reflect the flavour notes, but could actually alter perceptions of it. An experiment involving salty popcorn found that when it was served in a red bowl, participants perceived it as sweet. Likewise, when Coca Cola launched a limited “polar bear” edition in a white can, it had to be withdrawn after customers complained that it tasted differently, despite the drink being the same.

Therefore, if specialty coffee roasters want to promote certain flavours, for example chocolate and nuts, they might decide to design a brown-coloured coffee bag.

coffee packaging

The importance of colour in packaging is undeniable. It can induce emotional reactions, shape brand identity, and even influence perceptions of flavour. As a result, a full understanding of how colours impact consumers and how they can be put to best effect is essential for specialty coffee roasters.

At MTPak Coffee, we offer a range of fully recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable packaging materials can be customised to any shape and colour. Whether promoting sustainability, quality, or certain characteristics of the coffee, we can help you choose the perfect packaging and ensure your product is portrayed precisely how you want it to be.

For more information on our sustainable coffee packaging, contact our team here.

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