Recently, a leading US cigar brand, Black & Mild, promoted its latest blend, Royale, in purple packaging. The company has previously sold the same cigar in a blue package, which was promoted on the company's website between 2011 and 2016. The shift in consumer perception based on the package color was notable.
Colors play an essential role in the assumption of the flavor; for example, the color green is often linked with menthol flavor. A recent JAMA Network Open study evaluated whether consumers' flavor perception altered with the change in package color from blue to purple.
Study: Association of Flavor Perception With Blue vs Purple Cigar Packaging Among US Adults. Image Credit: FarisFitrianto / Shutterstock
About the Study
In this study, researchers investigated the association between cigar pack color and consumer flavor perceptions based on the Rutgers Omnibus Study survey data, which is part of a quarterly Amazon Mechanical Turk (mTurk) survey. This survey includes US adults between the ages of 18 and 45 years.
The respondents were randomized to view any one of the cigars with blue or purple packaging and were asked if they perceived the cigar to be flavored. The responses were recorded as a simple yes or no answers. If the participants thought the colored package represented flavored cigars, responders were asked about which flavor they presumed it to be.
A total of 2541 individuals responded to the survey, among which 1546 were female, and 979 were males. The mean age of the participants was 33.2 years. The study cohort consisted of 10.9% Hispanics, 11.4% non-Hispanic Black, 67.8% non-Hispanic White, and 9.2% other non-Hispanic races.
Most participants perceived that the colored package indicated the cigar blend was flavored. Interestingly, this survey showed that the blue-colored package indicated the cigar blend to have vanilla, blueberry, and mint/menthol flavor. In contrast, purple led to assumptions, such as grape, wine, and berry/cherry flavors. Grape is one of the most popular cigar flavors, associated with the purple color package by both cigar smokers and non-smokers. However, individuals who smoked Black & Mild cigars were found to be more inclined to link the purple color with wine flavor.
The use of mTurk survey data has been linked with some limitations associated with underestimation or overestimation of prevalence. Compared to national estimates, the percentage of cigar smokers in the current study cohort was higher. Furthermore, the generalization of the study findings was compromised because it considered only one cigar brand
The authors claim this study to be the first to establish a link between cigar pack color and consumers' flavor perception. It was noted that the purple packaging prominently communicated that the cigars were blended with flavors, compared to the blue packaging. This perception was seen to be present irrespective of whether the responder was a smoker or not. Nevertheless, this association of color with flavor was more among cigar smokers. Based on the results, the authors concluded that colors convey distinct messages to different audiences.