There is a movement happening within the food industry. Many food companies have announced that they are removing artificial colors in their products and are replacing them with naturally sourced ingredients. A complex endeavor.
One complexity lies in how we humans use our sense of sight to make judgements and our expectations. What visual cues have we trained ourselves to look for in our favorite products and brands? And if the visual cue is changed does our expectation change? Will we like it as much? What if the hue is slightly different? Or the chroma/brightness?
What if it slightly grayer? Over the years, I have talked to many consumers about their immediate experience with many prototypes and products. Invariably appearance impacts the expectation. Especially when there are grayish tones. Grayish food tends to be thought of as old, not fresh or poor quality. And, therefore the food won’t taste right or will have a bad texture. Grayish facial tissue is not as soft. Gray skin pallor means not healthy. A small visual cue like gray tones can have a large impact in how one responds.
When you are in the grocery store? What visual cues are you looking for indications of freshness? Or when you open a cereal box? A package of meat? The visual design element is a difficult one within the biological system we know as food. So many parameters impact the color, chroma, shine, evenness, etc. Just removing one colorant and replacing it with another can lead to a slight difference in color and decrease in acceptance. What have you deemed unacceptable because it no longer looks the same?
Teasing out the impact of ingredient changes is a test objective that is often a challenge we face at Sensory Spectrum. While appearance may not be the only aspect we measure, it is often included in our test design. Or is accounted for in the test controls.
If understanding how consumers describe their multi-sensory experience is your focus. Come listen with us. Teasing apart all the nuances within sensory descriptions is our passion.

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