„Our Brain Is a Lazy Pig“

Packaging is an emotional value driver. Everything on packaging has a message: best-selling author and brain researcher Dr. Hans-Georg Häusel explains at the FACHPACK press conference how important packaging is for purchasing decisions.

Our emotional system influences our thinking. And anyone who thinks they can turn off their emotions is mistaken. „Our consciousness is the end of an unconscious evaluation system,“ explains Dr. Hans-Georg Häusel. At the invitation of the Fachpack trade fair, the well-known psychologist, best-selling author, and co-founder of the Nymphenburg Consult AG group in Munich, a consulting firm for retailers, brand manufacturers and service providers, spoke about the importance for packaging in purchasing decisions. Packaging is unconsciously evaluated by the emotional systems. Thus, classifications take place in the brain. Several emotion systems are active at the same time, they check whether the product offers, for example, safety or adventure, harmony or power.

If a brand manufacturer wants to demand a higher price for a rather inconspicuous product, it can achieve this by emotionalizing the packaging, Häusel says. „I tell wonderful stories about coffee, I stage it, and you can ask for more money.“ Not all good packaging ends up being equally well received by consumers. Depending on socialization and emotion type, the incentive to buy differs. Those who crave extravagance more than reliability engage differently with certain shapes and colors, words, and stories. The well-known Weihenstephan milk brand, for example, stands for a sense of home, reliability, discipline, and control. The customer finds only blue and white on the packaging. Even the imprint „1.5% fat“ has a control function for the brain. A finished product that states on the packaging that it contains „spring herbs“ appeals to the feeling of lightness. And if a fork is pictured on the package, the brain gets the subconscious signal that eating is about to begin.

„Our brain is a lazy pig“,  the scientist says. Humans use 20 percent of their body’s energy for thinking. The brain is an energy guzzler. That is why retailers should make things as easy as possible for the brain. A purchasing decision should not lead to a stressful situation. The most important moment regarding packaging, he said, is opening it. „It is important to stage this moment correctly. The product becomes visible by simply opening it.“ Enjoyment or use can begin, he said. „Think of unwrapping presents under the Christmas tree when you think of opening packaging.“

Finally, he said, the emotion system demands immediate reward after the product is selected. If a brand promises that one acts sustainably by buying its product, this is not an immediate reward for the brain, he said. Manufacturers of products are asked here to take responsibility for sustainable action on their own initiative, Häusel said addressing the industry.

With Häusel’s presentation, FACHPACK kicked off the exhibition at its regular date of September 28-30, 2021, in Nuremberg. This makes it the first major meeting place for the packaging industry in a long time. There are currently 673 exhibitors registered for the European Trade Fair for Packaging, Technology, and Processes, occupying seven exhibition halls. Numerous well-known packaging machine and packaging material manufacturers are taking part and utilizing the business opportunities offered by FACHPACK. The leading theme of FACHPACK 2021 is „Environmentally Friendly Packaging“. It is reflected in special shows, the lecture program, award ceremonies, and exhibitors‘ booths.

By Anna Ntemiris