The potential for misleading visual communication on food packaging

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Title: The potential for misleading visual communication on food packaging
Author: Hayes, Terry Ann
Abstract: Consumers today are becoming more health conscious in light of America's growing obesity epidemic. Because of this, food companies often selectively highlight the healthfulness of their products, while carefully de-emphasizing the unhealthy components. These messages are frequently communicated by the food packaging itself, because packaging is a major influence on a shopper's perception of the food inside. The design of the food package, comprising both the two-dimensional surfaces and overall three-dimensional form, conveys these messages through variables related to color, imagery, typography, language, and shape. This thesis examined both organic and natural food packaging to uncover how healthfulness is communicated in each product category. Graphic design variables promoting healthfulness were analyzed in conjunction with actual nutritional information to discover their congruency. In addition, other nutritional message claims were researched to find out whether they were regulated or unregulated by the government. These findings led to design applications that were intended to educate the public about these various claims and encourage consumers to make informed buying decisions. The applications were placed in a grocery store context and used unexpected formats and placements to attract consumer attention.
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Date: 2009-05-21

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