business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports that Campbell Soup is set to announce changes to its labels and shelf displays today, using what is called “neuromarketing” - described as the study of “microscopic changes in skin moisture, heart rate and other biometrics to see how consumers react to everything from pictures of bowls of soup to logo design” - to figure out how to sell more soup.

According to the story, “The researchers found that warmth and other positive attributes people associated with Campbell's soup at home evaporated when they faced store shelves ... The Campbell team figured it could boost sales by triggering more emotional responses in stores and prompting more people to focus on more soups.”

Research showed, for example, “that Campbell's large logo at the top of shelf displays draws more attention than necessary. At first glance, the logo's bright red background makes all varieties of soups—from the classic chicken noodle to the jazzier Italian Wedding Soup—seem to blend together ... In interviews, participants also said the soup pictured on the can and shelf labels didn't look warm. And the big spoon holding a sample of soup on each label provoked little emotional response.

“Shoppers will begin seeing changes in the Campbell section of supermarkets this fall. Among them: Condensed-soup varieties will be sectioned into four, color-coded categories such as ‘taste sensations’ in orange and ‘classic favorites’ in light brown. The company's logo will be smaller and moved lower so it's not as prominent. Campbell's three biggest sellers—chicken noodle, tomato and cream of mushroom, the soup can labels immortalized by Andy Warhol—will remain the same. But on other labels, steam will rise from larger, more vibrant pictures of soup in more modern, white bowls.” And the spoons will be gone, because they weren’t doing any good anyway.
KC's View:
Certainly there is a risk in changing something so iconic as the Campbell Soup label. Just ask Pepsi, which changed its Tropicana carton design only to find that people hated the new one so much that it had to go back to the old version.

But the advantage that Campbell may have here is that it does not seem to have farmed the whole project out to some hotshot designer with his eye on prizes rather than sales.