Benefits of Clamshell Packaging vs. Paper Boxes
Eye tracking study conducted by CUshop to showcase benefits of clamshell packaging.

Benefits of Clamshell Packaging vs. Paper Boxes

The goal of any marketing campaign is to drive sales and that’s the case when it comes to the benefits of clamshell packaging. Clemson University’s CUshop put clamshells and paper boxes side by side to see what consumers would buy. They asked 68 participants to put on Tobii glasses and walk through a shop buying things as they normally do. They found that clamshell packaging was the clear favourite between the two and here’s why.

The Study

Packaging optimization directly affects the bottom line via cost and influencing consumer behaviour. As such, the CUshop conducted a study of 68 participants to see the benefits of clamshell packaging over boxes. Participants walked into the store and picked out items on a shopping list. Selecting from a pool of electric tooth brushes, men’s razors and air fresheners their eyes were tracked to see behaviour. The Tobii glasses tracked what they looked at, how long and how many times they looked at an item. Almost all participants leaned heavily towards clamshells instead of the paper box displays.

The following image provided by Klöckner Pentaplast shows the differences in product packaging:

The Benefits of Clamshell Packaging vs. Paper Boxes

Firstly, the pie chart above shows percentage splits clamshell packaging from paper boxes. As you can see, sample consumers bought clamshells at much higher rate than boxes. In fact, consumers bought clamshells over 400% more than they purchased paper box packaging.

Now, let’s take a look at the metrics behind these purchase decisions. CUshop tracked how many times a consumer looked at the product, how long they looked at it and how quickly they looked at it for the first time. For this blog, we’ll be using Klöckner Pentaplast’s visual graphics to get a better understanding of these metrics.

Eye Tracking Metrics

In order to showcase the benefits of clamshell packaging over paper boxes, we wanted to first look at how long purchasers looked at air fresheners.

Fixation duration is a great metric to use and provides a strong correlation to product selection and purchase behaviour. Once again, we can see that clamshell packaging clearly comes out on top. Sample shoppers spent more than 340% of the time looking at clamshell packaging than traditional boxes which led to them being more than four-times as likely to pick clamshells over boxes.

The next statistic we wanted to look at was fixation count. This looks at how many times an individual looked at a specific point on a product.

This is where the data becomes really skewed. Clamshell packaging received on average 675% more fixations than its counter part.

Finally, we wanted to take a look at time to first fixation. This basically measures how long it took for the package to attract the viewers eye. For example, if you go to a grocery store and you see your favourite chocolate bars at an end-cap, it would measure how long it takes for the first product to catch your eye.

There are no surprises in this portion of the study either as consumers tended to look at clamshells much quicker than they did for traditional boxes.

Benefits of Clamshell Packaging Study Visualized

To further showcase the benefits of clamshell packaging over traditional box packaging, we wanted to present results via a heat map. A heat map essentially shows where most participants looked and visualizes it based on hot zones. Red areas were looked at the most and green areas were looked at the least.

To go along with the heat maps, we can also take a look at individual patterns as well. By taking a look at this scanpath, you will be able to see the sequence of fixations by the number of dots. The wider the dot, the longer the person looked at that specific area.


Thanks to the study conducted by CUshop and the report put together by Klöckner Pentaplast, we are able to get a better understanding of the benefits of clamshell packaging vs. paper boxes. The following is a summary of the results of this study:

  • Clamshell packaging was looked at 343% longer than paper box packaging
  • Clamshell packaging received 675% more fixations than paper box packaging
  • Items with clamshell packaging were found 40% faster than paper box packaging
  • Consumers bought clamshell packages 402% more than the paper box packaging

It is also important to note that there was a strong correlation between fixation duration and product sales. When taking a look at the numbers, we can hypothesize that if a customer is looking at a product for a longer period of time, they have a higher tendency to by it. This is referenced by metrics such as a 343% longer fixation duration on clamshell packaging which could have led to the huge increase in sales as well.

After the study was completed by CUshop, they asked participants to answer a few questions and collect additional data on buying patterns. These are some of the things that they found:

If you have any questions about this study or any form of plastic packaging, feel free to contact us and we’ll have someone from our team get in touch with you and help answer all your questions.

Remember, at Shepherd Thermoforming, we deal with all methods of plastic forming; clamshell packaging, blister packaging, thermoformed trays and specialty projects. For more information on plastics, be sure to check out Klockner Pentaplast’s white papers as well.

Thank you once again for reading.

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