How Pretty Packaging Gets People to Purchase Unhealthy Foods
The food industry is extremely smart, but consumers need to be smarter. The groups that are targeted the most by the food industry are women and children. Yes, men grocery shop too, but nine out of ten times, in a family, it’s the woman who does the grocery shopping, and sometimes the kids tag along for the ride. For the food industry a winning combination is for Mom and the kids to shop together at the grocery store. Why? Women and children are drawn to colors particularly pastels, purples, pinks, light blues, soft greens etc. Women like to see what the meal can look like and that is why processed foods have photos of the prepared meal on the box or carton. Don’t you just love a photo of strawberries on the outside of a yogurt carton, but you know that there are no strawberries that look like that inside the carton? Kids are attracted to the funny characters on the packaging as well as the photo of what that cookie looks like inside the box. Perception is half the battle of selling. The only thing is with pretty packaging comes pricier packaging, and that price is passed down to the consumer. Even the text on the packaging is pretty or fancy.
Who designs all that pretty food packaging?
Well, there are food package designers whose jobs are to entice those would be grocery shoppers to purchase products. Package designers have a range of talents and work for various companies including food manufacturers. Colleges and universities offer a wide range of design degrees such as the Bachelor's Degree of Product Design Engineering Technology offered at Ferris State University. Graduates from this degree program can effectively, coupled with a company's marketing department, engage within a design environment, develop sketches and drawings, develop layouts and multi-dimensional shapes and surfaces, and develop packaging prototypes. Carnegie Mellon University offers The Master of Product Development Program, and The Academy of Art University offers the Master of Fine Arts with concentrations in Furniture Design, Product Design, Toy Design, and Transportation Design. Food packaging design is no mistake - it is targeted and very purposeful, and designed to bring in as much money as possible for food manufacturers.
Tools of a Food Stylist
Who makes the food look so appetizing on the food packaging?
The saying goes that we eat with our eyes first, so who makes the food on the package look so appetizing? Food Stylists make food look appetizing in and on so many avenues which include:
- Food packaging
- Magazine Ads
- TV Commercials
- In Movie Scenes
- On Websites
- Restaurant Openings
- Coffee Table Books
Yes, there are jobs for people who style food - who make the food look good on a plate. You heard of photo shoots for models, well there are food photo shoots. The food is placed "just so" on plates, the lighting has to be right, the background has to be right, the location for the food photo shoot has to be right, and even if there is a narrator he or she must "sound" just right for the food being presented. Degrees are not offered in Food Styling, but a Food Stylist does need a culinary degree. Have you heard the phrase, "Looks are everything"? Well, with a Food Stylist looks are everything when it comes to food. They are not concerned about how the food tastes, but how attractive it needs to appear in order to draw people in to purchase that item.
Unusual Tools for the Food Stylist
You will be surprised to know what Food Stylists use to make food look so appetizing. Here's a sample of their food styling arsenal.
- Hair Dryer
- Paint Brushes (different sizes)
- Sewing Needles
- Lipstick (to color fruit and make it appear much more rich in color)
- Aspirin (to give more fizz to a beverage)
- Transparent Tape
- Wooden Skewers
- Blow Torch
- Putty Knife
Do you read food packaging labels?
Keeping the Public distracted
A well distracted and uneducated Public is key to selling processed foods. Distractions from the packaging, food appearance, celebrity endorsements, and time-saving or quick and easy meals bombard our everyday lives. Even media endorsements of processed foods derail the Public from reading and researching on their own - call it laziness. Foods in pretty packaging have caused alarming health issues with high salt contents, coloring agents, nutrient deficient vegetables, hormone ladened meats, and other GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) foods. Keep this in mind - if the food packaging is pretty, what's inside is probably NOT good for you. Be a label reader and not a package pleaser.