Familiarity with the internet and texting means that many electronics users know about "emoticons," images that convey emotions through simple symbols that are easy to replicate. A new study suggests that emoticons could have a positive effect on consumption if used in food labels. Versatile color label printing solutions enable food companies to adapt to these concepts, giving them freedom in how they label products.
This research was led by Dr. Milica Vasiljevic of the University of Cambridge, UK, and argues against the use of green and red in food labels, which has been popularized through "stoplight" label initiatives. Gauging the reaction of 955 different UK residents, the study compared smiling and frowning emoticons, as well as the use of certain colors, to see if participants would be more likely to choose a chocolate or cereal bar. The faces were displayed alongside the exact same calorie and serving information for each product.
The results showed that the icons displaying frowning faces were more likely to be effective, at least when it comes to perceived tastefulness and healthfulness of food. Red and green were found to have no effect, though a white background did trigger a reaction when paired with the frowning emoticon.
"The finding that a simple smiling or frowning emoticon can influence people's engagement with a certain type of behaviour may have far-reaching consequences for the design of very simple, engaging, easy to understand, and cost-effective population-based interventions that may have the added benefit of reaching the most deprived social groups," the report reads.
Not every company will find success with the same color and symbol combination. Adjustable label printers allow companies to make their own unique pieces that fit a specific style and works for their audience, no matter which colors they prefer.