ProVeg International released a new report, “The Power of Colour: Nudging Consumers Toward Plant-Based Meat Consumption,” which reveals insights into the impact of color on flavor perception, willingness to try plant-based products, pricing decisions, and associations with health and sustainability.

While previous studies have explored the influence of colors on consumer behavior, there has been a scarcity of research specifically addressing the impact of packaging colors on perceptions of plant-based products until now, according to ProVeg International. Understanding this relationship is crucial, not only for boosting a brand's popularity but also for effectively reaching consumers who may not have previously considered incorporating plant proteins into their diet.

The survey included 1,200 participants, predominantly self-described omnivores, from both the U.S. and the UK. Participants were presented with vegetarian and vegan products packaged in an array of warm and cool tones. They were then asked to associate sentiments with the colors employed in the packaging.

Key Takeaways:

  • Red - The Flavor Enhancer 
    • Red is perceived as the tastiest color for packaging
    • 56% of UK consumers and 54% of U.S. consumers associate the color red with superior taste in plant-based meat
  • Blue - Price-Performance Connection: 
    • Blue is the most universally favored color among consumers, signaling both affordability and quality
    • 48% of UK consumers and 45% of U.S. consumers associate the color blue with budget-friendly products
    • 37% of UK consumers and 45% of U.S. consumers are willing to pay a premium for products packaged in blue
  • Green - Beacon of Health and Sustainability: 
    • Green symbolizes health, freshness, naturalness and eco-friendliness in the world of plant-based meat
    • UK consumers link green to healthiness (75%), eco-friendliness (78%) and safety (75%)
    • In the U.S. , respondents associate green with naturalness (68%), eco-friendliness (68%) and safety (72%)

The organization says the report establishes that color significantly influences consumer decision-making, as 65% of participants indicated that their purchasing choices are influenced by color. The findings further revealed a greater openness among consumers to try plant proteins, provided that the packaging aligns with the desired aesthetic.

“Flexitarians and omnivores actually showed a greater inclination to try plant-based products when presented in red packaging. Consumers subconsciously associate red with tastiness, so by choosing red packaging you are more likely to attract people who don’t immediately gravitate towards products dominated by the color green,” says Ajsa Spahic, researcher and author of the ProVeg report.

“Green is the predominant color in many plant-based products. Although it goes against current trends, the data indicates that it should only be used in moderation. Green should only be incorporated when your primary objective is to underscore the emphasis on sustainability and health benefits,” Ajsa says.

According to ProVeg International, marketers in the food industry can employ these insights to design packaging and branding that resonates with consumers’ color preferences. By doing so, they can increase their sales and encourage the consumption of plant-based meat. 

“First impressions matter. Something as simple as changing the color of the packaging has the power to attract consumers and make people of all dietary backgrounds more inclined to try meat alternatives,” Ajsa says.