The effect of packaging, branding and labeling on the experience of unhealthy food and drink: A review Academic Article uri icon


  • Extrinsic information, such as packaging, branding and labeling, can significantly alter our experience of food and drink through a process of 'sensation transfer', in which extrinsic attributes are transferred to our sensory perception of a product. The aim of this review was to summarize the literature on sensation transfer for unhealthy food and drink and to investigate personal factors that may influence its occurrence. Seventy-eight studies in 69 articles, published between 1966 and 2014 were identified which evaluated sensation transfer. Sixty-five of the 78 studies found an effect of extrinsic information on taste and/or hedonic outcomes, providing strong evidence for sensation transfer. The majority of studies identified that specific extrinsic information influenced particular products or specific sensory outcomes. Study designs incorporating a measure of expectation allowed a tighter assessment of sensation transfer. The results of such studies confirm the hypothesis that these effects occur when extrinsic information elicits an expectation of product taste, which then forms a framework to guide sensory perception. These studies also support the hypothesis that where sensation transfer does not occur, this is likely due to a mismatch between the expectations elicited by the extrinsic information and the sensory characteristics being measured, or the failure of the extrinsic information to elicit an expectation of taste for that product.

publication date

  • 2016