Research: How to make the Keyhole nutrition label more effective

Researchers have explored how the Keyhole nutrition label can win the struggle for the consumers’ attention. The recommendations are clear.

2016.12.21 | Camilla Mathiesen

The label needs to be bigger, more prominent and placed as close to the centre of the packaging as possible.

This is the clear conclusion from Associate Professor Jacob Lund Orquin from the Department of Management at Aarhus BSS, who has used the eye tracking method, which follows the movement of the eyes, to explore what it takes to make the Keyhole noticed by consumers. The results form part of a report which explores consumer behaviour in relation to choosing Keyhole labelled products in the retail industry (”Forbrugeradfærd ved valg af Nøglehulsmærkede produkter i detailhandlen") (in Danish).

Changes have an effect

In one of the eye tracking studies, the researchers explored the significance of the packaging design. More specifically, how the test persons were affected by the placement and size of the Keyhole label as well as by its prominence and other types of visual noise on the packaging. 

Three groups of respondents were asked to choose from a selection of yoghurts and were given different instructions beforehand. One group had to pick the product that they believed was the healthiest. In the other group, respondents were asked to pick the product which they preferred, while the last group also had to choose their preferred product, but had been primed with the Keyhole label in advance i.e. had been exposed to the label (without being told that they had to notice the label).

- The recommendation is crystal-clear. The Keyhole label needs to be bigger, it needs to be more prominent and placed as close to the centre of the packaging as possible, and finally: The fewer competing labels and information on the packaging, the greater the chance is that people notice the label. These factors had an effect on all of the groups in the study, regardless of how they were briefed. That these kinds of measures will always have an effect is good news, says Jacob Lund Orquin. 

Vary the placement of the label

The researchers also explored whether changing the placement of the Keyhole label on the packaging has an effect. The answer is both yes and no.

If people perceive the Keyhole label as a relevant indicator of healthy products, it makes sense to place the logo in a fixed spot on the packaging as this makes it easier for people to spot the logo. But if people find the label irrelevant and do not apply it when they shop, it is better to vary the placement:

- The funny thing about eye movements is that as soon as we have learnt how our surroundings are organised, e.g. our local supermarket, we become very good at noticing the things which we are interested in and very good at ignoring everything else. We all have this kind of tunnel vision. But one way of getting around this is to make the placement of the Keyhole label less predictable, Jacob Lund Orquin explains. 

In this study, a number of things indicate that part of the target group do not find the Keyhole label particularly relevant. They know what it means, but they do not use the information to any particular degree.

- For this reason we recommend that you vary the placement of the logo, says Jacob Lund Orquin.

Six specific recommendations

Further information:

Download the report (in Danish): Forbrugeradfærd ved valg af nøglehulsmærkede produkter i detailhandlen


Associate Professor Jacob Lund Orquin
Department of Management, the MAPP Centre, Aarhus BSS - Aarhus University
Telephone: 8716 5219

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