Betina Piqueras-Fiszman and Charles Spence said that their study was the first to show that cup color could influence sensory-discriminative and hedonic (liking) evaluation of a hot drink, in this case hot chocolate.
The pair said their results should stimulate those working in the beverage packaging space to think more carefully about packaging color and its potential effects on consumer perceptions of the taste/flavor.
Writing in the Journal of Sensory Studies, Betina Piqueras-Fiszman and Charles Spence enrolled 57 participants who tasted four hot chocolate samples from four cups of the same size but of different colors: orange, red, white and dark cream.
Different colored cups
After sampling, subjects were asked to rate each drink (two samples had been sweetened) using a range of sensory scales, that measured mean ratings on a 7-point scale.
“The results revealed that orange (with a white interior) and dark-cream colored cups enhanced the chocolate flavor of the drink and consequently improved people’s acceptance of the beverage,” Piqueras-Fiszman and Spence wrote.
In terms of hot chocolate ‘liking’, the mean rating for an orange cup with a white interior was around 4.6, followed by cream (circa. 4), red (circa. 3.75) and white (circa. 3.25).
“By contrast, sweetness and chocolate aroma were less influenced by the color of the cup, but the results still showed that the hot chocolate, when consumed from the dark cream cup, was rated as sweeter and its aroma more intense.”
Cup color exerted a significant impact on subjects’ liking of a hot beverage, the scientists said, and the lack of interaction with drink type implied that the effect was similar for both sweetened and unsweetened beverages.
“The participants liked the contents more when consumed from the orange…cup, and from the dark cream one than from the other two cups, with the white one being the least liked.
The latter result could perhaps be explained in terms of the fact that white cups were more common; hence the experience was not in any sense unusual, the scientists said.
Translates to coffee sachets?
Discussing how their results could translate to chocolate/coffee sachets, Piqueras-Fiszman and Spence said that only future research could tell.
“Of course, one needs to be careful here, given that while some color associations stay constant over the years (not to mention decades), others may be much more short-lived, and change in accordance with changes in fashion and the marketplace.”
Title: ‘The Influence of the Color of the Cup on Consumers’ Perception of a Hot Beverage’
Authors: Betina Piqueras-Fiszman and Charles Spence
Source: Journal of Sensory Studies, 27 (2012) 324-331, doi:10.1111/j.1745-459X.2012.00397.x