The importance of experimental economics

Experimental economics is a branch of economics that enables the controlled study of experimental subjects, markets, economic institutions, and ground rules. We can also define that experimental economics applies laboratory methods to study the interactions of human beings in social contexts governed by explicit or implicit rules.

Experimental economic and consumer expectations

Food packaging plays a major role in attracting consumer attention and generating sensory and hedonic expectations which could affect their product perception and purchase decisions. Because food companies usually invest large amounts of money on package design it is very important to investigate influence of package characteristics on consumer expectations of food products.

Metodology of economic experiment for milk desserts

The study was conducted with 105 people who consumed milk desserts at least once a week, and were randomly recruited at shopping areas, universities campus and public places.  Study analyzed  the influence of package shape and colour on consumer expectations of milk desserts. Two shapes (round and square) and three colours (white, black and yellow) were considered in the study. Thus, six images of milk packages were created. They were printed in glossy paper, and coated with contact paper yielding six different cards. The milk dessert packages images were obtained from commercial milk dessert packages and retouched using Adobe Photoshop 7.0, and consumers were asked to complete a word association task and to score their expected liking and willingness to purchase the desserts.


Both colour and shape significantly affected consumers’ associations, expected liking and willingness to purchase, but colour had a larger influence than shape. These results show the relevance of package characteristics, such as colour and shape, in creating sensory expectations on consumers, which could affect their product perception and acceptance. Besides, participants also associated certain package shapes and colours with specific products, such as egg custard or low-calorie desserts. Thus, during product and package development it would be important to study which sensory expectations packages are able to create in consumer’s mind.

Source: Gastón Ares, Rosires Deliza (2010). Studying the influence of package shape and colour on consumer expectations of milk desserts using word association and conjoint analysis, Food Quality and Preference, 21(8), 930-937,