Maybe you like Larabars for their bright yellow, green, and orange packaging–every color of the rainbow dazzling your eyes from a boring old metal shelf. These wrappers look like branding gold. Except, in internal research, Larabar found that when their same product was offered in a clear packaging, testers thought it tasted better, seemed less artificial, and appeared fresher. The distinctive packaging was actually getting in the way of the product.
Larabar isn’t the only company using clear packaging to get a leg up on the competition, as the the WSJ reports. Coca-Cola’s Simply Orange orange juice adopted clear containers and stole marketshare from Pepsi’s Tropicana (before Tropicana followed suit). And Kind Healthy Snacks–makers of Kind Bars–went so far as to sue Clif Bar & Co. when the latter’s competing Mojo fruit and nut bar went clear following a directive to “compete head to head with Kind” (the suit is in progress).
Clear packaging isn’t right for every company. When Hillshire Farm ditched its red-lidded coldcut containers for clear containers, sales dropped. Consumers reported liking the feature in testing, but couldn’t spot the product on the shelf in real world stores. Hillshire Farm returned to their red lids. Because in a grocery store where every package is clear–full of food that glows with freshness–we’ll probably all just clamor for the Trix rabbit and other flashy branding again.