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Start over, Warhol: Campbell’s undergoes neuromarketing-driven packaging overhaul

Maybe that’s a misleading title–it turns out Campbell’s, in a nod to their plum place in culture, is wisely choosing not to revamp their top 3 sellers, including the tomato soup can Warhol famously canonized. (Yikes–just saw the pun. I’m leaving it. Enjoy.)

But the top 3 are the only ones sticking with the old iconic design. Following two years of scientifically-based marketing research–neuromarketing–which measured audiences’ biometric responses to different packaging designs, Campbell’s has made major changes to its distinctive labels in an effort to cater to what audiences actually respond to emotionally, rather than what they think or say they respond to.

Measuring heart rate, skin moisture, eye-tracking, and other neurological and physical factors, Campbell’s is attempting to bridge the gap between audience feedback and sales by seeing what is really going on with audiences unconsciously. Revisions include a smaller logo placed at the bottom to avoid distracting from the product image, steam rising from the soup (no spoon!), a larger, more contemporary bowl, and color-coded soup categories at the top.

It’s no secret audience feedback doesn’t always translate into sales, so I’ve always found it a bit frustrating when every conflicting audience utterance is taken as the wisest of gospel. Where’s the grain of salt? Where’s the branding intuition? Being, as I am, a bit dubious of what people say they are/do/think/buy versus what they actually are/do/think/buy,  I like this approach to consumer behavior research. Sometimes it’s difficult to get at the real underlying truth in focus groups, surveys, etc. because the audiences don’t know it themselves or can’t articulate it–and sometimes, because they consciously or subconsciously just don’t want to admit it (or fancy themselves the sort of person they aren’t, or are influenced by external factors, or any number of confounding things). As such, it can be advantageous to observe the audience’s actual behavior and make your own educated inferences to aid in piecing together a more accurate audience story. Hopefully by leveraging more meaningful audience insights, this design makeover will have an impact not only on user experience, but also on sales–all by giving the customer what they actually need.

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