Metallic Foils and Laminates – all that glitters is GOLD!

They say that “all that glitters is not gold”. But when it comes to designing for print and packaging, you might want to reconsider. Let me tell you about a fascinating study carried out in the USA recently. They wanted to know the effect of adding ‘shiny bits’ to the packaging of chocolate boxes and wrappers. How would adding metallic foils or laminates affect the sale of chocolate?

Foil manufacturers API asked Package InSight at Clemson University, South Carolina, to carry out the research at the CUshop, their Consumer Experience Laboratory.** The 70 ‘shoppers’ were fitted with eye tracking glasses so the researchers could track their eye movements at up to 50 times per second. The picture on the right shows a heat map prepared by aggregating the results of all 70 shoppers.

heat map, metallic foils and chocolate packaging

Green indicates the areas that were observed. Yellow means they stayed a little longer and red indicates areas of particular interest. The display includes several different brands of chocolate but the main subjects for the experiment were particular brands of Belgian and Swiss chocolates.

Did the metallic foil make a difference?

They started by creating a control situation i.e. the chocolates were displayed in packaging that didn’t have the gold foil or laminates. They later substituted those products with the newly packaged ones featuring gold foil (Swiss chocolate) or gold laminate (Belgian chocolate), and referred to this as the stimuli presentation. Here are some of their findings.

Fixation due to metallic foils

The Total Fixation Duration is the number of seconds a person fixates on a particular item. As you can see, both brands attracted more attention when they got their new packaging. But would this increased attention lead to increased sales?

Metallic foils and laminates = increased sales?

The final graph shows the effect the gold packaging had on the purchasing decision. As you can see it was quite dramatic!

Increased sales due to metallic foilsThe Swiss chocolate was purchased 23% more times when it was presented in its new gold foil packaging. The Belgian box of chocolates was already selling well in its previous box, but even still, it saw a 6% increase when displayed in its new gold laminated carton. So why did the packaging have such an effect on brands that were already well known?

Why did sales increase?

Well, the shoppers were asked to fill in a post-experiment questionnaire. The answers indicated that they felt the metallic foils and laminates added a premium feel to the products. Comments included:

“The foil samples look higher quality” and “the foil stamped versions look more elegant and expensive” and “it gives it a more premium look and shows their attention to detail”.

This study demonstrated the head-turning impact of metallic foil in helping packaging to stand out from the crowd. But it works for more than just packaging!

So how can your business benefit?

Metallic foil and laminates are ideal to make your brochures and other important print stand out. And with today’s print technology, you can use foil to decorate a wide range of printed items – whether it’s 100 menus or 5000 brochures. So if you are selling a premium product, or supplying a premium service, talk to us about using metallic foils and laminates to give you a more premium image.

** For a full description of the experiment, go to