July 01 2023 | by Sarah Khaldi
How Color Influences Food and Health Experience
It is undeniable that color has an impact on all aspects of our lives. But it can be surprising to think of the influence of color in food and also in health products! Let’s explore it.
Visual Appeal and Experience
When it comes to food, color plays an essential role in our perception of the quality of the food. Whether it is based on truth or not, consumers consider bright and vibrant colors as a sign of freshness, naturalness, and overall quality.
And that isn’t just based on common sense or a sense of universal truth. This phenomenon has been observed and studied, most recently by Herbert L. Meiselman in his work on the sensory and emotional responses to food.
Color also has an important role in regard to health products. When it comes to beverages with health benefits, for example, a bright and visually appealing color can enhance the perception of a healthy drink. It can also imply the product’s effectiveness. Bright colors are often associated with energy products while muted or dull colors may lead the consumer to form an initial judgment about the effectiveness of the product.
Taste and Perception
Quality and effectiveness are not the only aspects that color can suggest. Some colors are highly associated with particular tastes. For example, red and pink are often associated with sweetness and sugar, while green is usually associated with sourness.
Again, while it is pretty common sense, this theory was also tested and confirmed. In their 2010 paper, Does food color influence taste and flavor perception in Humans?, Spence, C., Levitan, C. A., Shankar, M. U., and Zampini, M. tested the theory by altering the typical color of foods and found that this could affect our expectations of taste and our perception of flavor.
In the published article: Color psychology: effects of perceiving color on psychological functioning in humans, Elliot, A. J., & Maier, M. A explain that color can evoke emotions that may influence our experience of food and health products.
Reds and oranges often evoke excitement and joy. For example, we think of oranges as a good source of vitamins and as a fun sweet fruit. Warmer muted tones may evoke comfort, like mac n cheese. Cooler colors like blues call for calmness.
Both pictures perfectly depict the importance and power of color in the emotional response to food.
Of course, nowadays it can be hard to simply enjoy food and health products for what they are without ever considering or being influenced by the brand or company that sells the product.
Color can also have a big impact on the perception of a branded product. In some cases, the signature color of a product or its branding can help build the product’s identity and recognizability.We all know the signature pink colored liquid marketed for upset stomachs, and however consumers may view it, you can be sure a majority of them will recognize and identify its unique shade with the brand and the product’s purpose.
While color can have a crucial role in brand identity, it can also help convey covert messages to consumers.For example, in food, red and yellow are considered hunger colors, pairing together to create a feeling of happiness and comfort from yellow and feelings of hunger and excitement from red, helping influence consumers’ decision making when it comes to food consumption.
All in all, in our food and medicine cabinets, colors make the world go round!