A Study in Chocolate: API Foils Examines Premium Chocolate Packaging

Information provided by API Foils packaging study
The heat map drawn from the entire participant pool demonstrated the participants’ aggregate total fixation duration (TFD). Green indicates participants observed the area. Yellow indicates participants viewed certain product areas longer, with red areas viewed the longest (control left, stimuli right).

One of the fastest growing market segments, nearly half of the world’s total chocolate is consumed by Americans. A daily luxury for most, the root of Americans’ innate love of this sweet treat can be traced to several factors, one of which is the elegant and stylish packaging contributing to the luxury generally associated with high-end products.

A recent study conducted by Package InSight at Clemson University and sponsored by API Foils, “Brand Impact Delivered Through Packaging: Understanding Consumer Responses to Metallic Foil and Laminates on Chocolate Packaging,” examines the on-shelf impact of metallic materials in chocolate packaging and its influence on customer attraction and purchase intent. The study offers brand owners and designers valuable new insights into consumer preferences when purchasing premium chocolate and provides them with the knowledge required to create packages that stand out in an increasingly crowded and competitive market.

The study

Conducted in the CUshopTM Consumer Experience Laboratory at Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, 70 “shoppers” (64 percent female, 36 percent male) wore calibrated, state of the art, eye tracking glasses while selecting products from a list. Participants’ eye movements were recorded to provide nonconscious insight as to why individuals selected certain chocolate offerings.

During the quantitative eye tracking study, participants viewed two chocolate controls without and two chocolate stimuli with embellishments – one foil stamped and one in a laminate carton. Control and stimuli products were placed on the shelf at different times to avoid beauty contests between the stimuli and control.

Data gathered

Using eye movement metrics, it was possible to track the different factors influencing consumers’ decisions to purchase one product over another. The following data points were used to determine why consumers chose the stimuli over the control packaging or vice versa:

  • Time to First Fixation (TTFF): This measures the time, in seconds, from where the chocolate product (either stimuli or control) first entered a participant’s field of vision until the person fixated on it. The lower the number, the better the package performed.
  • Fixation Count (FC): This metric involves the number of times the participant scans the planogram in a particular area of interest, i.e. how often the participant fixates on the product in question. The higher the number, the better the package performed.
  • Total Fixation Duration (TFD): This metric involves the time, in seconds, the participant fixates on a specific item and is one of the most important metrics for a consumer study. The higher the number, the better the package performed.
  • Purchase Decision (PD): This metric measures how many participants chose to buy the item. The higher the number, the better the package performed.


Once participants completed the experiment, they were given an experiment questionnaire that gathered qualitative data regarding the packaging they viewed. Self-reports indicated that participants felt the metallic foils and laminates added a premium feel to the chocolate that represented a higher quality product. The following are some of the responses offered by participants:

  • The foil stamped version looks more elegant and expensive.
  • The gold foil portrays a more high-end product.
  • For chocolate, the foil stamp does give an image of higher quality if little is known about the brands.
  • “It just says ‘fancier.'” If I am looking for fancier chocolates, I look for fancier packaging.
  • It gives it a more premium look and shows attention to detail.


Shelf impact of decorated products is a major concern for brand owners – especially within a crowded marketplace with savvy consumers. This eye tracking study showcased the head-turning impact of foil stamping in helping various types of chocolate packaging to stand out.

Overall, purchase decisions, eye tracking results and survey results indicate that chocolate is an ideal product to be foil stamped because it communicates elegance, high-quality and a premium feel.

For chocolate, when it comes to the quality of packaging design that it inspires, it is crucial to give packages personality, and foil stamping can do this.

API Foils is a manufacturer and distributor of foils, laminates and holographic materials, which provide brand enhancements for consumer goods and printed media worldwide. For more information or to view the entire white paper, visit www.apigroup.com.