Food motion study

Food marketing insight: movement implies freshness

Implied motion in food advertising – such as an image of juice being poured into a glass – may make food appear fresher and more appealing, according to a study published in Food Quality and Preference.

The team of Israeli and US researchers asked 105 study participants to rate the freshness or the appeal of two similar pictures of orange juice, one in which the orange juice had already been poured into a glass, and another in which the orange juice was being poured. Participants rated the image of the juice being poured as both significantly fresher and more appealing than the still image of the juice.

Analysing the results, the researchers found that greater perceived freshness explained the pouring juice’s greater appeal.

“We’re hard-wired to be attracted to motion, so moving objects not only capture our attention but look more appealing,” said co-author Aner Tal.

The study’s authors suggested that the results were an example of how a mechanism for assessing freshness among primitive humans could be overextended in the context of the modern world. While moving water in nature would likely be fresher than still water, as would moving fish, or even plants swaying in the wind, such a link between freshness and movement may no longer be relevant.

“Marketers apply consumers’ primitive associations between different cues and food quality to help promote product sales,” the researchers wrote.

“For example, spraying water on fruit and vegetables in the produce section serves marketers not only to help retain freshness but also to enhance display attractiveness…. Similarly, marketers exploit the association between product movement and freshness to increase the appeal of their products. They may use it in cases where there is no longer a tight connection between movement and freshness, such as in boxed and processed foods.”

They suggested that marketers could use pictures of implied motion to promote healthy eating – or could go further by using video screens in retail settings. Read the article


“Fresh from the tree: Implied motion improves food evaluation”, Food Quality and Preference; Vol. 46, December 2015, pp. 160–165 doi:10.1016/j.foodqual.2015.07.015