In 2010, the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University released a study that found kids preferred packaging with famous characters over packaging without them. The study showed a causal relationship between the types of snacks and food that kids prefer and the licensed characters on food packaging. 

In this particular study, children between the ages of four and six were asked to taste three different snack types (gummy fruit snacks, graham crackers, and carrots). The snacks were presented to the children in packages with or without a character. The children were asked to indicate if they tasted the same or if one of the snacks was better. They were also asked which they would prefer as a snack. 

The results indicated that children were significantly more likely to prefer a packaged food like graham crackers or fruit gummies with a famous character. The difference in the preference for carrots was not significant. The study calls for regulation in the marketing of low nutrient and high energy foods with licensed characters. 

“Our results provide evidence that licensed characters can influence children’s eating habits negatively by increasing positive taste perceptions and preferences for junk food. Given that 13% of marketing expenditures targeting youths are spent on character licensing and other forms of cross-promotion, our findings suggest that the use of licensed characters on junk food packaging should be restricted.” - Christina Roberto, M.S.

Inspired by news.yale.edu

Pair Qualitative Research with Quantitative Research For More Accuracy

At Package InSight, we take great pride in pairing quantitative and qualitative research data together to create a complete picture of packaging design. Yale did an incredible job with this study, but we would have liked to do a shelf study alongside this research to better confirm how important characters are to packaging. With eye tracking, we understand how the subliminal minds of children help them make decisions. Eye tracking in this case could give you the ability to pick between characters, and figure out which character is the best for a particular brand. If you are interested in learning more about our process and technology, please visit our case studies page below. 


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