For marketers, there is a lot of consumer psychology that comes into play when communicating with shoppers. This is especially true with packaging — whether it be color, shape, or size.

Since we often overindulge when we eat (at least, many of us :-)), package size has taken on even more importance.

According to Sarah Nassauer, writing for the Wall Street Journal: “Did you really eat that many cookies? Packaged-food makers might know the answer, even if you don’t. Aware that people snack a lot throughout the day, they continue to introduce new packaging that encourages consumers to eat their food anytime they have an urge to nibble, what some executives have dubbed ‘hand-to-mouth’ eating.”

And according to the WSJ, marketers also know this about the “Psychology of Small Packaging”:

  • “Hershey says we more often eat wrapped candy alone, while we might grab unwrapped candy out of a bowl while chatting with friends.”
  • “When given several smaller packages of food, we eat less than when given the same amount of food in one large pack.”
  • “Along with old standbys like potato chips, consumers can now buy smaller packs of dried fruit and hummus.”
  • “Research shows that people are poor judges of when to stop eating.”

Click the image for a WSJ video.


20 Replies to “Package Size Matters”

  1. When we drank white wine in China, it was a common sense that we easy to get drunk when we use small glass. In most times, consumers usually not sensitive to small amount of goods. This is a very interesting business law.

  2. Small packages are more convenient to take for us. The food in the small packages look seemingly more elegant and tasty. Even though they always more expensive than those in the large packages, the consumers often prefer to the small packages.

  3. We always assume people don’t pay attention to how much they are eating but maybe they really don’t know what a proper portion size is. I thought the Pringle experiment and the concept of needing visual cues was interesting and a good way to get people to pause and look at their eating behaviors.

  4. Usually, I only buy small size of food because of its convenience for taking away instead of “I would eat less”. Rather, I would buy family size of potato chips because it makes me feel very content with the amount I can have to pleasant myself.

  5. I think making small individual packages is a really good idea, not just for consumers but products also tend to cost slightly more when they were individually packaged giving more profit to the company. I think the small packages are convenient for the lifestyle of our culture today. Many people like to grab some food on the go. I also think the small packages are a healthier option for consumers because it refrains them from overindulging themselves… unless they eat more than one package.

  6. Small packages are much more convenient for people. Now a days people are very rushed so packaged foods allowed them to grab it on the go. Although they are more expensive most people are still willing to pay the extra money if it makes their life easier. Also, I do think the psychological aspect has a lot to do with its popularity. People like to think they are eating less, and smaller packages definitely makes them think that.

  7. As a girl who always wants to keep fit, I prefer to have food in small packages. Small packages are convenient to carry and store. Also it is easy for people to control the amount. That will make people consider their eating habits are healthy. However, food in family size still has its market.

  8. Companies such as Hershey’s have come up with a creative way to eat snacks. Something that is efficient and convenient for the consumers. It’s a great marketing strategy because putting snacks in smaller packages leads to consumers finishing them quicker and buying more packages. As consumers, we should be more alert when it comes to our snack intake. Since the snacks are bite-sized, we don’t realize how many we’ve had until the bowl or bag is completely empty. The Pringle experiment is a great way to keep track of how many snacks a consumer eats. Even though the snacks look smaller and might seem healthier, it’s still important to keep track of your snack intake.

  9. Makes me think of the “on the go” type packaging. For example, yogurts and smoothies now coming in pouches and no longer requiring spoons or jars. When you’re eating something while you’re driving, it feels like you’re not eating it at all.

    Also, the packaging that doesn’t even seem to open. Like the ChipsAHoy “boxes” that just pull open on the top, and reseal, and appear as though they’ve never actually been opened. There is a lot of psychology in that type of seal, compared to how it used to be – where once it was opened, it never reclosed.

  10. I never realized that the packaging of snacks had so much reasoning behind it. As Americans, we have a “on-the-go” culture and do not always realize how much we are eating. These package dividers are there to make us aware of the actual serving sizes. I know that I will now be more aware of packaging and more conscious about how much I am consuming.

  11. I totally agree that the package of products would influence the volume of usage, because a good and suitable package can add value for the product. It may not only retain current customers but also attract more potential customers to increase the sales. In modern society, more people live alone. Also, there are more nuclear families than big families. Thus, i think the small package is a better choice for product manufacturers.

  12. One thing I noticed recently is the variety of snacks being sold in “100 calorie packs”. When 100 Calorie packs first came out, there were maybe three options of crackers. Now, there are too many to list. Each company Nabisco, Kraft, etc. is selling their cookie or cake in a smaller serving size. Consumers are trying to be healthier, so offering a variety of smaller packaged treats should be successful.

  13. The food industry has succeeded in getting us to consume their products all the time, whether we’re hungry or not. That’s their job as an organization to try and make the most profit. Nevertheless it’s our job as consumers to not only be aware of what we’re putting in our bodies but also to exercise some restraint when it comes to food. “Eat to live, don’t live to eat”. Although it may be true that we’re more prone to eat more when the package is bigger but being aware of that is the most important.

  14. Yeah I believe the size of the package is very important. When I buy a big bag of chips, I end up eating more than half the bag in one sitting. However, when I have a few small bags of chips, I usually only eat one bag even though I could have eaten the others. It is crazy that the size of the package can make such a difference on eating habits.

  15. packages size is very important, wether there is small or large, it gives consumers choices. when we buying stuff, it is because we needs them. everyone use the chips as an example, and for me I’d prefer a small bag of chips, because I would end up eating all the chips and even though I’m not hungry, if its a small bag when I finished thats it. For a large bag of chips, I will keep eating and eating and I might finished the big bag of chips without knowing it. Thats where the unnecessary weight gaining.

  16. In terms of food industry, small packages are needed. However, I think some of small packages are unnecessary. For example, some chips’ package is comprised of small packages per chip. I believe that this just increases costs. It is likely to include a small plastic zipper bag in a whole package. In addition, it is important not only package size, but also package material. Comparing between Japanese food products and other products, Japanese’ products are made by materials that easily open the products. Sometimes, I feel bad when I drop my food product as soon as open it.

  17. More options of smaller size is good choice that many snack product are hard to store such as chips and cookies. However, I believe there are many consumers enjoy the family size package products because they feel like they got a big deal. I think the sales of the package depends on the selling channels. For instance, smaller size may be popular at vending machines and local stores, but bigger size may be sold well at department stores.

  18. A lot of the shopping done in my family is at Costco or BJs so the physical packaging is often extremely large. Many people will open a bag of chips and want to finish the whole bag. They should realize to either buy a smaller bag of chips or that they actually will stay good if you put them aside for a little while. I can see how many people are poor judges of when to stop eating, but if you take a small packaged item, it acts as a good control of the amount you eat.

  19. For family, most of the time they will prefer to buy large packages of toilet tissues or water from BJs and Costco due to saving time and money. However, I remember the times that I traveled to Japan. They prefer smaller packages and the packages are really details on how it designed. The more interesting design, people are willing to buy and pay extra for it. Moreover, it is not limited to any countries, the smaller packages for food, people don’t need to worry about the freshness.

  20. The smaller package is more convenient and I think psychologically we think we are eating better because it is less, whether that is true or not, we believe it. I do agree with some of the above comments that for the family, bulk sizes will be bought. However, on the go, a parent or child individually will grab a more convenient personal size. And in city areas with single people or couples, they will go for a smaller package as well. This means more $$ in a company’s product.

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