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Package color saturation and food healthfulness perceptions


  • Mead, James A.
  • Richerson, Rob


Vivid, highly saturated colors are often perceived as exciting and arousing, making them popular in branding and package design. However, are foods packaged in vivid colors also perceived as unhealthful? Across four experiments, we demonstrate that consumers appear to perceive foods in vivid, highly color-saturated food packaging as less healthful than foods in muted, less color-saturated packaging. Further, we demonstrate that conceptual fluency mediates the effect, subjective nutrition knowledge weakens the effect, and restrained eating behavior strengthens the effect. We contribute to the color literature that explores the distinct effects of different color elements on consumer perceptions. We also advance the food well-being literature by identifying a new heuristic that affects food well-being, and in doing so, join other researchers who have connected learned color associations to substantive consumer outcomes. Finally, we offer food marketers new insights into consumers' evaluations of their products.

Suggested Citation

  • Mead, James A. & Richerson, Rob, 2018. "Package color saturation and food healthfulness perceptions," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 10-18.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbrese:v:82:y:2018:i:c:p:10-18
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2017.08.015

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    Cited by:

    1. van Esch, Patrick & Gadsby, Casey Lynn, 2019. "Marketing the healthiness of sports drinks: From physiological to cognitive based benefits," Australasian marketing journal, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 179-186.
    2. Kelly Geyskens & Alexander Grigoriev & Niels Holtrop & Anastasia Nedelko, 2018. "Optimal policy design for the sugar tax," Papers 1810.07243,


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