The use of radial fresnels on packaging is not new (toothpaste and champagne are examples of early adopters), but the use of such lenses on packaging has not previously been studied. During 2016, the market research team at Fresnels Inc. investigated the efficacy of these optical effects as attention grabbers and confirmed the validity of the so-called 6-3-1 framework.

Typically, these modern variants of holograms are circular and totally lack the prismatic colors associated with holograms and have the appearance of polished metal spheres or domes in which customers can see their faces by reflection, something which causes intrigue and curiosity. But there is another effect which was observed that creates even greater customer interaction.

In every case of the study, when samples of these optical lenses were demonstrated to the public, there is a universal urge to touch it and then utter an exclamation of amazement.

From the point of view of paths-to-purchase in a retail environment, the positive effect of these lenses begins at a distance of 6 feet or more. This is exactly the purpose of having some eye-catching effect on packaging. Its purpose is to distinguish the product from products on crowded shelves and draw in the prospective purchaser for closer examination.

It is known from studies and a growing body of academic literature that shoppers struggle to identify the product they will ultimately buy. This is where the fresnel lens, originally conceived as a beacon to enhance the effectiveness of lighthouses, plays an important role.

Unlike holographic images or effects which require special lighting and viewing angles for impact, the fresnel lens acts like a convex mirror reflecting the ambient light from all directions ̶ even when the light level is quite subdued. Thus, it announces its presence as the prospect approaches from a distance of up to 20 feet and then plays on the innate curiosity of the prospect to draw them in.

At a distance of approximately three feet, the prospect is usually committed to an even closer inspection involving a tactile verification of the packaging. In simple terms, this means that the client feels compelled to reach for the product and touch the lens with a finger to verify the nature of the effect. Logically, it would be a lens raised up from the surface of the box, but the touch confirms that it is flat and yet produces a magnifying effect, something that is unknown in the natural world. Research proves this using boxes made to our specification, which displayed a convenient circular fresnel lens and a proprietary digital version shaped like a heart.

These tests were initially carried out in China and subsequently repeated in the United States  and Europe to ensure they results were not affected by a cultural phenomenon.  In every case the result was the same.  A compulsive desire to stroke the lens was followed by an equally strong request to own it regardless of the content.

As is well known, at one foot away, shoppers are able to interact strongly with the product and decide whether to reject it or decide to place it into the cart. The tactile response observed is the clincher in 93 percent of the cases studied, confirming the power of the effect in enhancing the selection and purchase of the product.

So the rationale for incorporating these fresnel effects into packaging is clear. However, a restraining factor to their commercialization has been the limited technology available to do so.

This has cost implications that inevitably restrict the use to high-value products that can sustain the additional cost.  The launch of hot and cold stamping foils that allow the fresnel lens to the placed exactly where the design calls for it and in a quantity not much greater than the dimensions of the lens itself. 

Not only can these foils reproduce the true fresnel effect without distracting rainbow colors, but also they lead to significant cost reductions through material savings and enhanced productivity. Typically, inline cold foiling is three times faster and a quarter the application cost of hot stamping. Using laminates, this promises to open up markets not previously considered.