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The Art of Candy Packaging: How it Affects Consumer Behavior


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The candy aisle is far and away the most vibrantly-colored section of your local supermarket or convenience store. Most major candy brands focus a lot of their marketing efforts into the design of their product’s packaging. With so many different food choices out there, sweet treats like candy have always had their own inherent appeal. But, the candy industry is constantly fluctuating, with new opportunities for growth around every corner.

Globally, the confectionary market was valued at over $64 billion dollars in 2021, with that amount expected to grow to over $81 billion by 2027. Much of this growth rate is fueled by the fact that seemingly everyone loves candy, and manufacturers consistently make efforts to keep up demand by filling the market with fresh ideas through some highly-imaginative product innovations. Through our own market research, we believe that the sky’s the limit when it comes to the future of the global candy industry!

The Role Candy Packaging Plays in Attracting Consumers

There certainly is an art form to modern candy packaging. Over the years, food and beverage packaging has evolved into a multi-faceted discipline. It’s not just a matter of putting sweets into a container and then selling them, rather it involves careful design, branding, and different types of marketing strategies. All of these efforts are made to attract customers and you’re your brand stand out in an already crowded marketplace.

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Candy packaging has a rich history, dating back to ancient civilizations, where sweets were likely wrapped in things like leaves, paper, beeswax, and other materials to be transported and saved for later. In the early 1800’s, many sweet treats were sold without any packaging at all. Being sticky, the (mostly hard) candies could attract dirt, hair, moisture and other microbes, and this ruined all the fun.

One of the pivotal moments in candy wrapper history came when Milton S. Hershey began selling his chocolate bars in 1900. Finally figuring out the perfect recipe for milk chocolate that would be shelf-stable, Hershey’s began selling their chocolate bars to the masses for 5 cents a piece at stores throughout the United States. Though their wrapper looks dramatically different today, the original one proudly stated that Hershey’s Milk Chocolate was indeed a “nutritious confection.”

The wrapper wasn’t just for protecting the chocolate from outside elements. It also proudly stated a list of product features saying it was “especially recommended for Cyclists, Athletes, Ladies and Children.” With the gold lettering and artsy illustrations of a cow, and a child sitting in a cacao pod like a bassinet, the candy bar’s unique design elements certainly helped grab the attention of customers who were passing by.

90015B7F7.1-768x973 *Image courtesy of Hershey Community Archives

Today, candy packaging is a booming industry, with designers and marketers spending many business days seeking new ways to create eye-catching and innovative candy boxes, bags, and wrappers that will capture the attention of consumers. So, let’s delve deeper into the art of candy packaging, marketing, and its history, exploring the key elements that make it such a compelling and dynamic field.

The Importance of Colors in Marketing and Human Psychology

Color has a dynamic impact on consumer behavior. While a brightly-colored package of Skittles or M&Ms might draw our attention consciously, it can also do some pretty amazing things in our subconscious mind. Certain colors can evoke emotions, moods and memories that can become powerful tools for advertising and marketing of your candy brand.

Just think of a red swirl on a white background and you instantly will recognize the Coca-Cola logo. Another popular example would be an orange package with yellow lettering and brown highlights – there you have Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The key here is the distinctive use of iconic colors that brands employ to market, advertise and package their products.

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How Does Each Color Impact Purchasing Behaviors?

Red is prominently featured in food branding, as it is a color that is known to stimulate and excite our brains. Psychologically, red is known to stimulate the appetite center of the brain, which is one reason it’s so prominent in food packaging. It also elicits a perception of sweetness, hence why it’s so common in candy branding. See Twizzlers, Kit Kat and Skittles, just to name a few.

Yellow is well-known as being noticeable and grabbing the attention of consumers. Like red, yellow stimulates the appetite but it also helps people feel positive emotions. This is why red and yellow are two of the most common colors for food product brands. A few examples include Peanut M&M’s, Butterfinger, Milk Duds and Sour Patch Kids.

Orange produces similar effects, as it is a combination of red and yellow. It is commonly associated with cheese and orange fruit flavors, but it is also perfect for candy products as it helps elicit thoughts of both affordability, and convenience. The popular peanut butter company, Reese’s has seen great success with the use of orange in their designs and branding.

Blue helps signify trust in a brand (think “blue chip stocks”) and it helps convey a message of freshness. This is why blue is commonly used in packaging for perishable items like milk and seafood. Candy uses blue packaging quite a bit too, like the Crunch Bar, Almond Joy and the stand-out lettering on a Snickers bar.

*To learn more about how colors are used in the food industry, check out this informative article by HART Design & Manufacturing.

The iconography and use of colors by major candy and soda brands is an undeniably powerful tool that helps portray an immediate feeling, emotion, or even past memories that are associated with the product in your mind. This ubiquitous nostalgia has helped continue driving the market appeal, even for many of today’s best-selling candies.

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Candy Packaging has Evolved to Match Consumer Demands

One of the most recent consumer trends in the candy industry is a focus on ingredients. As consumers become more health-conscious, they take these desires into their moments of blissful indulgence involving sweet treats. Many more people are turning the package over to read the ingredients list in today’s world.

As we saw with the COVID-19 pandemic, our collective relationship to food dramatically changed. One major takeaway was that candy became a much-needed comfort food for a lot of people in that time of relative global uncertainty. Clean labels and ingredient transparency are becoming more prominent in the industry, showcasing simple, natural and non-artificial ingredients. But it wasn’t just the pandemic that changed our shared eating habits.

The growing concern for sustainability is yet another trend that we are seeing come through candy product packaging in recent years. Many candy companies are now using eco-friendly packaging, promoting fair-trade issues, and adopting sustainable corporate practices – all of these elements are now prominently featured on many candy brand’s labels! In today's age, consumers are drawn to companies that prioritize our Earth’s environmental health and they are willing to support those brands with their purchase.

If you have created your own candy and you want to bring it to market, it will be necessary to come up with your own custom candy packaging ideas. Take some of these guidelines and examples to heart and you too can stand-out among the crowd in the candy aisles!

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If you’re curious about some of the best-selling candy on the market today, we’d suggest contacting one of our customer service representatives at Redstone Foods! We are a premiere distributor of specialty candy, glass bottle sodas and fancy food items in the United States.

Our candy wholesale lineup consists of over 6,000 unique products that your customers are sure to love! Shop with us online by signing up for an account, or give us a call! We are your one-stop shop for all your candy, snack and soda needs!