In recent times, neuromarketing has emerged as a powerful tool for delving into the intricacies of consumer behavior, shedding light on the underlying psychological factors that drive individuals to make specific choices. This article, written by neuromarketing expert Francesco Pinci, explores the dynamic interplay between packaging aesthetics, sustainability, and consumer behavior, offering insights into the intricate relationship that binds them.


Surveys constitute an integral component of research and design in the realm of packaging, offering valuable insights into customer attitudes and behaviors. In recent times, the incorporation of eye-tracking technology has revolutionized this field, enabling a deeper understanding of consumer perceptions.

Eye tracking serves as a bridge, connecting the apparent and the articulated thoughts of consumers. This advanced tool allows researchers to study the visual attention patterns of individuals by employing near-infrared light and high-definition cameras to project and record the reflection of light off the cornea of the eye.

A recent consumer study, centered on three international spaghetti packaging brands distributed by Eataly, exemplifies the potential of eye-tracking technology. This study integrated iMotions eye tracker software with Google Modules to delve into consumer perceptions of various elements within spaghetti packaging. The primary objective was to provide food companies with specific data pertaining to the significance of design elements and the underlying consumer decision-making processes.

The research focused intensively on specific visual attributes of retail pasta packaging, including color, shape, packaging material, and logos. While the Google Modules survey focused on participants’ personal preferences, the iMotions eye tracker software, employed at the CoSMIC Lab (Cognition, Social, Multimodal Interaction & Communication Laboratory) at the University of Roma Tre in Rome, Italy, facilitated visual data collection.

Here’s how the study unfolded:

Phase 1: Participants first completed a Google Modules questionnaire, sharing essential demographic details such as gender, age, and nationality.

Phase 2: Subsequently, participants were presented with images of Afeltra, Granoro, and Rigorosa packaging on a monitor for a duration of 20 seconds. The eye tracker software automatically recorded their visual attention during this phase.

Phase 3: Participants were then presented with a multiple-choice grid, featuring questions employing a rating scale ranging from 1 (indicating “very little” influence) to 4 (indicating “a lot” of influence). The questions aimed to identify the packaging element that most significantly influenced their choice. The elements considered included color, brand name, transparency, logo, quality, and others.


Key findings

The combined data analysis unveiled intriguing insights. Participants allocated the most attention to Afeltra packaging (4.9 seconds), followed by Granoro (4.2 seconds) and Rigorosa (4.0 seconds). Afeltra emerged as the most viewed and preferred option, consistent with the results obtained from the questionnaire. Granoro garnered the second-highest attention and corresponded with questionnaire responses, while Rigorosa was the least noticed and least chosen during the survey.

Additionally, the data highlighted that participants spent relatively less time focusing on brand logos. Surprisingly, the Rigorosa logo received attention on par with the Afeltra logo, even though participants overall spent less time examining Rigorosa packaging. This underscores the visual impact of brand names on Granoro and Rigorosa packaging, aligning with the products they represent. Interestingly, the Afeltra name did not exhibit the same influence. Moreover, the Rigorosa brand name was deemed “strongly influential,” further corroborating the congruence between questionnaire data and eye-tracking observations.

Furthermore, the number of revisits to specific points of interest was tracked, offering insights into the areas that repeatedly attracted participants’ attention. Granoro packaging registered the highest revisit value, possibly due to its central placement in the image, positioned between the other two packages. Rigorosa, on the other hand, recorded a lower revisit value compared to Afeltra and Granoro, providing a potential explanation for its consistent positioning as the least preferred choice in the survey.

In conclusion

This research considered the attention time and the number of fixations for each package as a whole and also for each individual element of the packaging. The results indicate that the Afeltra packaging received the most consideration, as measured in terms of gaze time.

As the package on which participants fixated for the longest period, it was selected as the preferred choice (14/30 times) compared with the others, and also selected more often than the second most popular choice (10/30 times). Afeltra was chosen as a preferred choice 24 times in total out of 30. It was possible for viewers to rank the brand in any of three positions, so Afeltra clearly was a popular choice, as only six times out of 30 was it selected as the least favourite choice.

The study’s outcomes underscore the paramount significance of packaging design in influencing consumer purchasing behavior. Elements such as color and product information wield substantial influence in the decision-making process, as demonstrated by the congruence between eye-tracking data and questionnaire responses. These findings serve as a vital resource for companies aiming to optimize their packaging design strategies to resonate effectively with consumers and enhance their brand’s appeal.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy:

The L’Oréal approach to packaging sustainability

What steps is Apple taking to make its packaging more sustainable?

How did Brazil achieve its 100% aluminium can recycling rate – and can it be replicated in the EU?

Experts have their say on the EU’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive revisions