Red, Yellow, and Green,
Color-Coded Labels Sway Healthier Food Purchases

Red, Yellow, and Green, Color-Coded Labels Sway Healthier Food Purchases

Color has all around us since forever. 

Color Around The World

Whether it’s soft soothing pastel or feisty bright neon color We’ve been associating color with many things. Start from gender identification like pink is for girls and blue for boys, to the identification of our emotion like red is for anger and green is for calm. Different cultures or countries are used different colors as identification or symbolism. For example, Black is a color to symbolize death or someone just died in the western world, but in Asia, they use white, or in this case Indonesia, our country uses red. But in some other cases, color symbolism can be universal, for example, the use of Red, Green and, Yellow for the traffic light. In every country in the world as a traffic light Red means stop, Yellow means, slow down, take a look around, be careful and Green means Go.

Color in Food Industry

Color meanings stem from psychological effects, biological conditioning, and cultural developments. Many international companies are using the psychological power of color. Ford uses the most popular color ever, blue as the basis of their brand. As blue suggests high loyalty and precision. Have you ever wondered why the McDonald’s brand logo is a big yellow letter M dipping in bright red color as the basis? It’s because Red attracts attention and triggers appetite, while Yellow indicates fun, cheerfulness, conveys positivity, and also attracts attention. Pretty cool huh? As simple as it seems color can be a very dangerous weapon in marketing strategy. Color can be provoking some specific emotions even some certain behavior. Feelings are much more powerful than rational thoughts based on facts and figures and applying color meanings and color symbolism will make your branding efforts and designs much more effective.

In more recent studies associated with colors as an identification tool and manipulation behavior, Jing Song of Queen Mary University of London, UK, and colleagues present some findings of color that have been used in coded nutrition labels in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine.

Color-Coded Nutrition Labels

A new analysis has integrated findings from 134 studies of the impact of color-coded nutrition labels and warnings found on the front of some food packaging, indicating that these labels do indeed appear to encourage more healthful purchases. This analysis aggregated findings from more than 130 previous studies, ranging from 1990 to 2021.

The authors reviewed several different types of labels, including color-coded “traffic light” and “color spectrum” labels using green, yellow, and orange/red to indicate various levels of nutrients as well as warning labels such as octagonal (stop sign-shaped) warnings and straightforward health warnings such as California’s boxed message.

“We found that all color-coded and warning labels appeared to have beneficial effects by encouraging the purchase of more healthful products, reducing the purchase of less healthful options, improving overall nutritional quality, and reducing the energy, sodium/salt, fat, and saturated fat content of processed foods and drinks purchased/chosen,” the authors wrote.

In Conclusion

“In summary, our findings suggest that both color-coded labels and warnings appeared effective in nudging consumers’ behavior towards more healthful products by changing the healthfulness perception and eliciting negative emotions,” the authors concluded.


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