A closer look: the effectiveness of claims on packaging


In recent years, conflicting media reports and food scandals have triggered the suspicion of consumers all across the globe towards food products; or have at least caused them to be more sceptical. Consumers want to know what is in their food, and have started reading product labels more frequently. Claims on packaging can facilitate consumer choices. But are these claims always effective? And what are the do’s and don’ts?

Puratos dug deeper into the results of the Taste Tomorrow survey in an ad hoc study that fully zooms in on the impact of claims. Nanno Palte, Group Marketing Intelligence Manager at Puratos, highlights some interesting results.

A closer look: the effectiveness of claims on packaging
Difference in impact
Claims can provide more clarity about the ingredients in a product. ‘Free from’ claims, such as ‘no additives’, ‘no GMOs’ and ‘no preservatives’ have been shown to be the most appealing, and to give consumers the greatest reassurance. The claims study revealed that the impact of claims is closely connected to the type of baked goods. With regard to bread, claims have a significantly greater impact on purchasing behaviour in comparison to patisserie products, or chocolate. Nanno Palte explains: ‘Considering that bread is something you eat every day, you take a greater interest in the health aspects and want to know what’s in it. When buying patisserie products or chocolate, your first inclination is to treat yourself or someone else to something special; or to celebrate a special moment. In this, the taste experience is the priority, while the health aspect ranks secondary in importance. After all, nobody eats patisserie products because they are healthy!’

If you zoom in on the category ‘bread’*, the results show that you will appeal to 84% of consumers through a combination of two specific claims. ‘With a third claim, you will increase this reach up to 90%, but the addition of a fourth claim has only limited added value.’

A closer look: the effectiveness of claims on packaging

Striking the right chord
Claims can have a significant impact with regard to packaged and pre-packaged baked goods in both the retail and food service industries. ‘In these cases, the only communication medium you have at your disposal is the packaging. The information printed on the packaging has to strike exactly the right chord at a single glance.’ The claims study shows that there is an optimum number of claims and that certain combinations are more effective than others.

Less is more
‘Less is more’ appears to be the motto: results show that communicating two to three claims (at most) is the most effective strategy. ‘When there are too many claims, consumers become unsure about what to believe, or what they consider to be most important,’ continues Palte. ‘The more information you put out there; the more fragmented your message will become. As a result, you are confusing consumers rather than helping them. Therefore, the best strategy is to restrict your communication to a few strong and relevant claims.’

Natural = healthy
The claims study also clearly revealed that, in the perception of consumers, naturalness and healthiness are inextricably linked. ‘As soon as they read about ingredients such as grains and fruit, or other products of natural origin, consumers tend to think: this comes straight from Mother Nature, therefore it must be healthy.’ From the consumer’s perspective, this reasoning is easy to understand.
‘Processed food is not less healthy by definition. The food processing industry can use techniques and ingredients that certainly ensure that processed food is also healthy. It is the task of the industry to inform the consumer of this.’ In this, Palte draws a hopeful comparison to frozen vegetables. ‘It took some time, but frozen vegetables now have almost as healthy an image in the eyes of the consumer as fresh vegetables in terms of vitamins and nutrients. I hope that a similar mind shift will take place within the baked goods sector.’

The claims to which consumers attach the greatest value is strongly regionally determined. Interested to learn which claims can be effective in your country? Contact your local Puratos representative for more information.