8 August 2014

COLOURBLIND: A Consumer Behaviour Experiment

From my previous posts you can see I've recently started learning how to make my own sweets. At a wedding tea party last weekend I took this one step further. I used my new-found sweet making talents to do an experiment on consumer behaviour. I wanted to find out if people's sweet choices were based on appearance or flavour, specifically their choice of heart-shaped wine gums! Does colour blind your decision?

Initially I wanted to make a variety of different flavoured, red wine gums. However, this presented difficulties, not in the sweet making process, as many food flavourings are colourless, but how would I be able to tell if people even realised there were different flavours? I would have had to draw attention to their differences which is not something I wanted to do. I wanted my experiment to be as unobtrusive as possible.

My other alternative, and the path I finally decided to take, was to make a variety of coloured wine gums, all in one flavour. This way I would be able to see if people choose sweets based on their colour rather than flavour. I chose lemon as the flavour for my wine gums and made the standard wine gum/fruit pastel colours: red, orange, yellow, green and purple. I wanted to see if people had preconceptions about the wine gums based on their colours. Would they assume the red was strawberry for example? And would they continue to eat the red ones, even though they tasted exactly the same as the other colours?

At the tea party I filmed the five separate bowls of different coloured wine gums. I then edited this footage and created this video:

I'd love to know what you think about this experiment so please leave me a comment, tweet me @_Sam_Blundell using #colourblind or let me know personally.


  1. OK trying to post this a second time as the first itme failed.

    This experiment seems amazing. Very intruiging. I do have two questions to ask.

    1) One comment on your video interested me 'have a nice strawberry sweet' is this people were eating sweets and still tasting flavours they wanted to? For example the red ones were still tasting like strawberry to people when they obviously wern't strawberry flavoured. So that would be something like flavour imagination.

    2) The two bowls at the front were the sweets that had most taken from. Is this not colourblindness and is just lazyness on behalf of the 'participants' or extremly short arms of some kids?


    1. Hi Ian,

      Glad you were interested in it! It's great to think this has provoked some questions. I'll try to answer them now:

      1) This is what one of the parents said to their child before having tried the sweets. I can't be sure whether if when they later tried the red ones themselves they still thought they we're strawberry or not, but I feel confident saying that no one appeared to notice they were all they same flavour.

      2) This is one issue I spent a lot of time thinking about. As It wasn't my tea party I was restricted by the amount of table space available. I think bowl positioning may have had an impact on the results but the children were mainly accompanied by their parents and requested certain colours (you can see one child at the end rejecting the purple sweets in favour of the red). Also quite a few people still chose to eat the green, orange and yellow sweets (43 in total out of 117). However, it would definitely be interesting to do another experiment about positioning in the future.

      I hope this has answered some of your thoughts!