Biometrics and Packaging Design

Can Biometrics Improve your Package Design?

This article looks at how the use of biometrics can help improve packaging design. It appeared first in is written by Rick Lingle and includes a short interview with Sara Shumpert, Director of the Packaging School.

What are biometrics?

This article uses a definition from Wikipedia as follows “Biometrics refers to metrics related to human characteristics. Biometric identifiers are the distinctive, measurable characteristics used to label and describe individuals.”

In practical terms, biometrics are technological tools and devices that measure human facial expressions and eye tracking to gather information about a human reaction to something that they are looking at. In this case, the human would be looking at a test packaging design.


The article reminds us how important it is to get your packaging design right. They remind us that the average new product takes 22 months in development. Yet, after two years, only 6% of those new launches remain on the shelf.

Ms Shumpert says that many companies still use focus groups and consult family, friends and employees when creating and choosing a new packaging design. She suggests that this is not the best method of choosing a packaging design because many consumers don’t really know why they like something or why they chose a particular product.  She describes product purchasing as an “nonconscious decision”.  She stated that humans simply are not aware of why they buy something and ultimately what triggered their purchase decision.

Benefits of biometrics for packaging design.

Biometric research such as eye-tracking and facial expressions are useful tools because it can collect information about a consumer’s reaction such as how long the consumer looked at each piece of information on the packaging etc. The facial expression data would also be useful in determining how favourably the consumer reacted to the different elements on the packaging design.

Clearly each company is aiming to create a packaging design that will be visually more interesting and draw more consumers to the product than its competitors.

Rick Lingle of Packaging Digest interviewed Ms Shumpert and asked her a few questions as follows:

What remains the value of focus group studies in new product/package development?

Shumpert replied that focus groups had three key disadvantages

1) Group think -participants often engage in “group think” when a group of people make irrational decisions based off their desire for harmony or conformity

2) Moderator bias –  where the participants responses are affected by any bias in the way the moderator presents questions

3) Out of Context – the participants are not at the point of sale during a focus group so their responses and behaviours may be different at the actual point of sale.

An Overview of what Biometrics are about?

Shumpert stated that biometrics are tools— “devices, sensors, hardware, etc.—that measure human activity. Like a calculator, these are tools that can be used to answer questions. Also like a calculator, they can be used incorrectly. They provide data and answers to questions on the intersection between humans and activity.”


Eye Tracking Biometrics in store

Where are you looking? Eye-tracking heatmaps indicate where consumers eyes land while looking at shelf displays of various brands and packaging.

What companies can benefit from using biometrics?

Shumpert: Anyone interested in how people interact with objects needs to be informed on biometrics. She added that eye-tracking technology can now be used to effectively collect quantitative data to measure how effective point of sale marketing techniques in a controlled environment.

How can companies with smaller budgets benefit from biometrics?

Shumpert replied that the more detailed and specific the question, the less-expensive the study. Cost is affected by the number of participants, the location, the number of samples tested, and what insights need to be extracted.

What’s new in biometric studies?

Shumpert answered that modern technologies, such as lighter weight devices, advanced code, cloud processing and computer vision are big topics for biometric device manufacturers and users.

What one sentence piece of advice do you have for brand owners?

Shumpert emphasizes that you must: “Design, test, and redesign every single time”.

You can read the full article here.