Case StudyClaim TesterFOP TestSynapse Mapping

How to test effective packaging worldwide, with Neuro Semantic Analysis

By 15. September 2016 June 3rd, 2019 3 Comments

For years, shopper research has shown that consumers typically spend about 2 seconds looking at products before making purchase decisions.  A product’s Front of Pack (FOP) is the face of a product.  The FOP conveys the entire concept of the product to potential consumers, therefore making it an important variable to study in market research. To quickly and accurately measure the FOPs impact on the brain, worldwide, we have developed Synapse Maps to be used in the our Global FOPPER ©.


Imagine walking through a store, browsing the shelves for a particular category of product.  During buying decisions, a product’s packaging must both attract consumers’ attention on a busy shelf and leave an impression on consumers, leaving the core idea that the product will fulfill their needs salient in their minds.  What you put on the package, the colour, word choice, pictures, and information, all play a role in a product’s retail success.  The FOP determines a product’s success, as it conveys the entire concept and message of the product.  A strong FOP will be quickly decoded and leave a take-home message in the minds of potential consumers, which they can later pass on to their family and friends, adding to sales.

Depending on product category and shelf placement, every package design will have a particular “hook zone,” an area of the package that draws the attention of the consumers. For example, most toothpaste packages showcase the product’s selling features on the right 35% of the package.  Additionally, brand recognition plays an important role in FOP effectiveness.


In a recent study, we tested a variety of Ideas to see what kind of associations each created in the mind of our consumers. However the study went beyond seeing which product was chosen the most often: it also investigated how well the product matched the clients’ intended marketing concept and what specific elements consumers found appealing or unappealing.  In today’s article, we will give you a sneak peek at the top 2 Ideas* and show you what the Global FOPPER is all about.  More information can be found on our website,

Study Set-up

The study was run in two markets: Indonesia and The Philippines, testing potential ideas for a revival of a previously successful toothpaste brand.  200 consumers from each country were asked to select their first and second choices out of eight products. While the brand remained the same (Dentacare in this example,) we tested eight different Idea Slogans, each representing a different part of the overall concept, a different featured ingredient, a different health benefit, etc.



They were then shown the verbal concepts associated with their selected ideas and asked further questions.  The main goals of the study were to find out:

  • Which of the ideas consumers choose first or second most often; which was perceived as the most exciting, appealing, new, and different
  • How did consumers articulate the FOP idea based on their first impression of it? What parts of the idea stood out?  What associations did they make with the idea?
  • What were consumers’ first impressions of the idea after being exposed to the verbal concept? To what extent was the FOP able to convey the message in the verbal concept?

First and Second Choice


From the graph shown above, it was clear that the top two Ideas significantly outperformed the others, leading us to focus only on those ideas.

Close analysis revealed that idea preferences were different in our two markets:


Although more Filipino than Indonesian consumers preferred Plaque Protection Plus, the opposite was true for Gum Protect, which is important to keep in mind for regional marketing initiatives.

Verbal Concepts

After selecting a first (or second) choice, the participants were then asked to read a verbal concept matching their chosen product, such as the one shown below:


They were then asked about their first impression:

 Word Frequency and General Associations

After analyzing their answers, we observed the following trends:


Gum Protect elicited a balanced response of key concepts and associations, as shown by a low level of variation in bubble size. “Fresh” was very prominent as well as the mention of key words related to “protect” (shield, white, cavity, breath), congruent with the idea’s verbal concept.

Plaque Protection Plus showed higher variation in bubble size, indicating a less balanced response.  Here, there was an emphasis on oral anatomy, with the idea eliciting associations with “teeth”, “gums’, “mouth”, and “cavity”.

Significant Associations


Compared to all other ideas, Gum Protect stimulated the most pronounced reaction from consumers. Mentions of cavity, protect, fresh breath etc. were significantly higher than for other ideas. Most concepts were additionally strongly associated with each other, which indicates the creation of a stronger memory trace for this idea.

On the other hand, Plaque Protection Plus did not elicit as many significant associations, either on the stronger or weaker end of the spectrum, implying that this idea is not very likely to stand out.  Fewer significant word associations implies that no concepts really stick out for a given idea, and it is less likely to be remembered than other ideas.


Verbal Concept Heat Maps

As a final step, we asked the participants to re-read the verbal concept for each of their chosen ideas and mark the parts that they found positive or negative.  This allowed us to see which words really stood out which may give helpful insights into ideas that should be taken further in advertising.  Here, words that are larger indicate that they were ranked positively or negatively by more than 10% of the sample, while background colour indicates the percentage of the sample that ranked the word negatively or positively.


In the heat map above, the term natural really popped out, implying that it should be a point of focus in future advertising.

In the heat map below, the same was true for protect and 16 hours.


In conclusion, the Global FOPPER gives insight into the kinds of associations elicited by given product ideas, which often go a long way in formulating intelligent marketing campaigns.  For more information on the details behind our testing procedures, please feel free to contact us through our website,

*Idea Names and associated study details have been changed for confidentiality purposes

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Jonathan T. Mall

Author Jonathan T. Mall

Jonathan is a computational Neuropsychologist turned entrepreneur. Seduced by the opportunity to optimize consumer experience using machine learning, he led the Science team in a IBM Big Data Venture ( Afterwards, he founded, a market research institute, using online experiments that illuminate the true drivers of desire and purchase behaviour. When he’s not combining Neuroscience and Big-Data to test innovative ideas, he eats burgers and trains for the next marathon.

More posts by Jonathan T. Mall

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