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FSEA Studies Impact of High-Visibility Enhancements

Association Partners with CUShop at Clemson University to Conduct Study

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The second FSEA study, conducted in partnership with Clemson University, was carried out at PACK Expo International in November.


Time to first fixation was significantly greater than the control for two of the three packages tested.


Participants had a significant longer total fixation duration on the foil stamped packaging.


A portion of the three-day study included participants’ reaction to foil stamped versus non-foil stamped packaging without direction, which resulted in a significantly higher total fixation for foil stamped packaging.

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There are many processes that can be applied to printed pieces to stimulate attraction and hold the attention of a viewer. Some of these processes have long been in existence and are a part of the branding strategy for many companies in a wide variety of product marketing categories, including food and beverage, cosmetics and grocery. Today, processes that increase visibility, stimulate attraction, hold attention and convey an image of value are known as high-visibility enhancements. The list of high-visibility enhancements includes such processes as foil stamping, cold foil transfer, embossing, specialty UV coatings and decorative laminations.

The Foil & Specialty Effects Association (FSEA) estimates that high-visibility enhancements are found on less than 10 percent of printed items. What impact do those enhancements have on shelf presence? Process providers, industry suppliers and the FSEA are driven and focused on increasing the contribution of high-visibility enhancements on printed items. Through this focus, FSEA has developed a partnership with the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics at Clemson University and its CUshop Behavior Lab to study the effects of high-visibility enhancements on consumer interaction and test the hypothesis that processes such as foil stamping and/or specialty coatings would increase attention to the product when compared to the same product without any type of specialty enhancement.

Study procedure

The first study in a series of what FSEA plans to be one of several additional studies in the future concentrated on the use foil stamping on specific packaged products commonly found on the grocery shelf. In the three-day study conducted in a setting to emulate grocery store aisles, three specific products were tested – a ground beef complement product (Easy Skillet), a raisin bran cereal and an individually packaged microwave popcorn. The shelves were stocked with foil stamped embellished product in a setting along with plainly printed product of the same and competitive brands.

The approximately 265 participants were offered no incentives and participated in the study over a three-day period. The eye-tracking Tobii glasses were worn by each participant and tracked pupil movements at 30fps (frames per second) while recording the viewed scene with a forward-facing camera. Each participant first was calibrated with the glasses and then escorted into the CUshop. The participant was handed a shopping list with a randomized listing of products. Only a few products were relevant to this particular study. The participant was instructed to shop as they normally would and, when ready to make a selection, to write the product code (between two and three digits) onto the space provided on the shopping list. When complete, the participant exited the shop and filled out a survey on a computer.

Study data

Eye-tracking data was collected throughout the study; to aggregate data, IR markers were utilized to track the position of fixations on the shelf. The shelf was digitally organized in terms of "Areas of Interest" (AOIs) and "Areas of Analysis" (AOAs). An AOA is useful for observing a generalizable area or category, such as "popcorn," where all of the popcorn is defined as a large group. From an eye-tracking perspective, AOAs allow researchers to understand the total amount of time spent looking at popcorn or how long it takes participants to view the general area of popcorn. AOIs help researchers understand the influence of specific packages within a defined AOA. In the example of popcorn, an AOI could be "Best Choice® brand 94% reduced fat," which pertains to that specific package.

Study definitions
AOI (Areas of Interest): A planogram, or product layout, was designed for the grocery stores shelves, and specific products were determined as the focus of observation. These were the packages (both stimuli and control) developed for the study and defined in the software for analysis.

  • AOA (Areas of Analysis): Within the area of interest, the AOA is the product category, such as "cereal" and "popcorn", that was used to determine how long it took to find the package once a customer entered into the product category.
  • Time to First Fixation: The time it takes for a participant to find the package of interest once entered into the product category
  • Fixation Duration: The length of the fixations in seconds within an AOI

Results

Results are presented as graphs with a brief descriptor underneath each graph. These results are the interpretation of the FSEA, drawing from the data collected from the initial study conducted by Clemson University and the CUshop.

Time to First Fixation (Mean)
The graph above demonstrates the overwhelming results for "First Fixation" of foil stamped packaging for all of the different types of packaging analyzed during this pilot study. The ability of a product to attract the shopper’s visual attention has a strong influence on a consumer’s decision to purchase, according to Tobii, the manufacturer of the tracking eyeglasses. Time to first fixation was significantly greater than the control for two of the three packages tested. This is a remarkable difference, especially since the results area measured in seconds. In addition, the extremely low standard error demonstrates the consistency of the results from one participant to the next.

Total Fixation Duration (Mean)
With analyzing and comparing the total fixation duration of all of the foil stamped packaging and non-foil stamped packaging, the study demonstrated that participants had a significant longer total fixation duration on the foil stamped packaging. As with the "Time to First Fixation" results, the standard error for those who chose foil stamped packaging was very low, which demonstrates the significant consistency of the results from one participant to the next.

Indirect results
Total Fixation Duration (Mean) In addition to the results relating to products that participants were asked to find, a portion of the three-day study included participants’ reaction to foil stamped versus non-foil stamped packaging without direction. Results show that there also was a significantly higher total fixation duration for foil stamped packaging versus non-foil stamped packaging when combining the results of all three packaged products analyzed.

Conclusion

The findings from this initial pilot study showed that there are clear advantages to metallic foil decoration on packaging, in terms of attracting attention faster and retaining attention on packaging longer than identical packages without foil. Through these tests, it also is the hypothesis of the research team that high-visibility enhancements increase sales, but this will need to be quantified through more specific studies tracking sales.

Overall, this pilot experiment clearly indicates that metallic foil-decorated packaging provides real benefits concerning consumer attention. Additional studies are recommended to confirm these results and explore other potential benefits of high-visibility enhancement techniques on packaging.

This article is derived from the recent introduction of the FSEA white paper entitled "The Impact of High-Visibility Enhancements on Shelf Presence." To request a copy of the entire white paper, contact FSEA at 785.271.5816 or visit http://fsea.com/newsarticle.asp?item=WhitePaperRequest.
The Foil & Specialty Effects Association, in partnership with the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics at Clemson University, recently has embarked on a second study that took place during PACK EXPO International 2014. This study examined the impact of specialty coating techniques on similar consumer packaged products. The results of this study will be available in early 2015, and FSEA will introduce an additional white paper for publication with a report on the findings.