Study reveals importance of labels in driving consumer behavior and customer loyalty

A unique psychological study from office products supplier Avery UK has revealed just how much labels really matter when it comes to consumer decisions and customer loyalty.
A unique psychological study from office products supplier Avery UK has revealed just how much labels really matter when it comes to consumer decisions and customer loyalty

Working with an established behavioral psychologist, Avery UK, a subsidiary of CCL Industries, tested consumer response to small business label designs to reveal how certain elements can encourage positive reactions to the items they are attached to.

The research included three scientific approaches to understand what makes a successful label, including the use of eye-tracking apparatus in controlled laboratory conditions to trace exactly where a label can lead the eye. All test subjects were no stranger to buying from small businesses. Three online experiments were also conducted, testing 1,108 British adults to examine the more cerebral and behavioral aspects of labels, centered on product labeling, and mailing and shipping labels. A literature review of 159 academic papers was also conducted on existing research to help identify gaps in knowledge and shape the rest of the study.

Key outcomes from the study included the importance of catching the eye, with bright colors and large labels making consumers stop and look, while bold lines, borders and stripes saw a label viewed 42 percent more than plainer labels nearby. Once a consumer’s attention has been captured, the best way to hold it and convert it into a desired outcome (purchase or a positive opinion of a brand) is to make the brain think and engage with the product or package. This can be achieved through emotion, information, priming, decision-making shortcuts and curiosity.

In addition, the use of multiple labels when shipping items increased positive emotions in the recipient and led to a higher likelihood of customer loyalty and repeat purchase. In fact, using multiple labels on a shipping package could increase ‘brand love’ by as much as 129 percent, perception of quality by 116 percent, purchase intent by 113 percent and word of mouth recommendation by 135 percent.

The in-depth research was completed to help their customers discover the power and influence of their own shipping and product labeling. The study explored important aspects for Avery consumers, who sell goods either online or face-to-face. It considered how various label designs affected how much someone was willing to pay; how they made people feel towards a company and how likely test subjects were to make a repeat purchase.

Fiona Mills, marketing director at Avery UK, said: ‘We suspected there was more to the science of label design than might first meet the eye, but the discoveries have been extremely enlightening. We can now speak with the utmost authority to say that labels really do make a difference to the performance of small businesses.

‘While we don’t recommend businesses stick labels on their packages for the sake of it, there is a clear business case for going above and beyond a simple plain address label. An address label, a company brand label, a return address label and a friendly special message label will give enough space to get across the important information, your brand, your professionalism and your heart for your valued customer.’ 

Avery UK identified a special message label, in particular, as helping attract attention and influencing future purchase behavior. Examples of this include adding labels that say things like ‘Open me’, ‘See what’s inside’, ‘Handmade with love’ or ‘Just for you’. Personalizing messages will make customers feel even more special, with mailing envelopes featuring a name seeing participants spend 11 percent longer looking at it than average, and being 10 percent likelier to look at it first.

Small business owner Kate Efomi, of Notebook Love, commented: ‘I never realized just how much power lies in a tiny label. The psychology is fascinating. Since reading this report, we’re definitely rethinking our packaging strategy. We’ll be adding quality branded labels to the packaging of all our products and our envelopes will definitely have a more personal touch – the address label will be accompanied by special messages of appreciation towards our customers and our branding will be bold, quality and eye-catching. Before, we were just sending plain white envelopes with plain white address labels. Who knew that by making the outside of the package more eye-catching and intriguing, our customers are more likely to warm to us as a company and want to buy from us again?’