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Color Psychology in Marketing


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The purpose of this research was to review the psychology of colors in marketing. People make their minds about product or people within 90 seconds. About 62 to 90 % of a product or people assessment is based on colors alone. Thus, a color is not only using to differentiate your product from your competitors, but it also affects the moods and feelings of the individual buyers, thus colors make attitude towards a certain product. Human feelings and moods are changeable overtime; thus, every marketing managers should know the importance of colors and make their products or packaging accordingly. This study evaluates the literature linking to color psychology. The study found that colors play an important role in marketing. Managers should give immense attention to their brands and products colors in order to attract a large number of customers. Limitations and future research agenda are presented.
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Journal of Business and Tourism Volume 04 Number 01
January June, 2018
Khattak, Ali, Khan & Shah 183 ISSN: 2520 - 0739
Color Psychology in Marketing
Assistant Professor, The University of Agriculture, Peshawar
PhD Scholar, Qurtuba University, Peshawar
PhD Scholar, Qurtuba University, Peshawar
Lecturer, Institute of Business Studies and Leadership
Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan
The purpose of this research was to review the psychology of colors in marketing. People
make their minds about product or people within 90 seconds. About 62 to 90 % of a product
or people assessment is based on colors alone. Thus, a color is not only using to
differentiate your product from your competitors, but it also affects the moods and feelings
of the individual buyers, thus colors make attitude towards a certain product. Human
feelings and moods are changeable overtime; thus, every marketing managers should know
the importance of colors and make their products or packaging accordingly. This study
evaluates the literature linking to color psychology. The study found that colors play an
important role in marketing. Managers should give immense attention to their brands and
products colors in order to attract a large number of customers. Limitations and future
research agenda are presented.
Key Words: Color, Psychology, Marketing
1. Introduction
Our senses play crucial and fundamental role in understanding of the surrounding world.
Among five senses the sense of sight is most critical and important. Indeed, it is our senses
that help us in selecting different brands of different companies. Color selection is of
immense importance in marketing and branding. Color is considered a powerful medium
through which we view the world. It is revealed in a research study that people make their
minds about a people or a product within 90 seconds. It is also revealed that 62 to 90 percent
of a product consideration is based on colors alone (Gopikrshna & Kumar, 2015). Colors are
the most crucial factor that influences our perception about something’s. Its impact is visible
in every part of our daily lives and it is considered an important element in consumer
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Color is caused by the interaction of spectrum of light with the spectral sensitivity of the
light receptor in the eyes. When light interact with this receptor eyes it split to six distinct
colors. Light sources emit light of different wavelength. As a result of difference in
wavelength, different light creates new colors and we perceive a combination of different
colors. In a nut shell, the color of an object generally depends on two cases i.e. physical
object in their environment and the second one is how I and brain perceive that object.
Psychologists divide color into the following main section;
cool color which comprise blue and green
warm color which is consists of red and yellow
neutral color which includes white, black and gray
Color is essential element of marketing in corporate communication. Selection of color
enhances or decrease productivity of any product. Color induces moods and emotions of the
customers and it significantly influences perceptions and behaviors of the consumers. Color
also helps companies to distinguish its position from other competitors. Often it is seen that
within a given market different companies choose different colors that will differentiate
them from the competitors. For example, in mobile market Verizon owns red T-Mobile,
owns pink and AT & A owns blue. In the domain of marketing color is an important element
in promoting different products, providing different services, packages, displays and logos of
different products. Color is an important sign for creating and sustaining identity of different
products in the competitive markets. It attracts consumers’ perceptions for differentiating
different brands. Palmer and Scheoss, (2010) cited a theory about color preferences which is
known is ecological valence theory. This theory states that color preferences result from the
individual emotional reactions towards the color related object. People prefer such colors
which are directly associated with objects they prefer.
Color is considered by customers is one of the first primary factor which influences their
shopping behavior and product selection. It is also revealed in a research study that choice of
color selection is largely depend on demographic variables of the consumers like age, socio
economic level, gender, race, culture, and ethnicity. Understanding and meaning of color is
changing overtime. The knowledge and awareness of customer color choices enables
marketers to identify and offer the most suitable color of the product. Color is also used to
attract and create a purchasing intention in retail stores. Customers have different inclination
towards different color preferences in order to select different categories of products.
Customers’ choice for a color might not match with color of the product which they believe
suitable. It means that colors are not perceived independently from context and therefore
companies cannot manufacture their product color choice which is based on the choice of
consumers (Plieninger, Dijks, Oteros-Rozas, & Bieling, 2013).
Color is a critical element in logo design and brand personality. It can be considered a
crucial marketing variable for creating and managing images of the standard of the products.
It is believed that color can function not only as in instant identifier of its brands but it also
connotes the price and quality of the product. Thus, selection of right color for a product
promotes and recognizes product importance and utility. On the other hand, when a wrong
color of a product is selected it may hamper any communication between a company and its
market. The process of color selection is mainly depending on average life of the product
and price level of the product.
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For example, when high priced and long lives of product are involved people are generally
paying more attention to color in their choices. On the other hand, consumers are more
flexible in their choices when low prices and short life of product is involved. In marketing,
every color has a different feel for consumers and various other associations. A company
chooses a color or a combination of different colors to distinguish its product from other
competitors. Colors evoke certain feeling and emotion towards a product and it is an
important sign for a company to represent its products effectively. Selection of different
colors motivate to specific types of shoppers and personality. Table 1 show how different
colors appeals to different shoppers and personalities.
1.2. Color Controversy
There is no unanimity among scholars regarding the role of color and human personality.
Conventional psychologists reject the role of color in influencing human personality. A
modern psychologists’ stresses that color play significant role in determining our
personality. However, the role of color is visible in following field of our life:
1.2.1. Color and Health
The role of color is being considered an important one in health for decades. Ancient
Egyptian doctors healed their patients while bathing them in color of light. This pattern has
re-rise as a branch of new age prescription. Different colors have been linked to heal
different ailments. For example, red color has been considered to energize the liver, purple
color lower blood pressure, orange color is considered to strengthen lungs and increases
calcium metabolism. Green color plays role in sympathetic nerves system and yellow color
is effective an energizing the alimentary tract.
1.2.2. Color and Culture
Color is also entirely dependent on culture and religion. Studies found that blue color was
the most acceptable color in almost all culture (Singh, 2006; Wiegersma & Vander Elst,
1988). In India, the most sacred color for Hindu is orange. On the other hand, culture like
Ndembo of Zambia do not considered orange as a color. Until the introduction of white
color by Christian Pops for wedding, Celts considered green as a sacred color. Muslims also
consider green as a sacred color. Inuit communities preferred white color. In Melanesia, the
combination of red and white was used for ritual decorations (Plieninger, Dijks, Oteros-
Rozas, & Bieling, 2013). The detail of each color and its meanings in different countries and
cultures are reported in appendix.
1.2.3. Color and Emotions
Peoples are affected and attached with different colors emotionally. The association between
colors and emotions was studied by Boyatzis, & Varghese, (1994) and found that brown,
black and red as sad colors, and blue, orange and yellow as happy colors. They also argued
that these emotions were similar across age groups. Atmospherics elements like aromas,
sizes, clamors, shapes and hues could pass on messages make consideration and make shape
emotions that may upgrade buy likelihood (Singh, 2006; Kotler, 1973). Various studies link
color and consumer emotion and perception. Hamphill (1996) found that colors like blue,
white, red and pink create positive reactions in people such as happiness and excitement,
while colors like brown and black react oppositely. Labrecque and Milne, (2012) argued that
brand’s uses red and orange colors for the purpose to conveys more excitement as compared
to other cooler colors like blue. Similarly, Dijkstra et al. (2008) found that hospital rooms
having blue walls are less stressful than those having orange walls which are more
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stimulating as compared to those rooms having white walls. Table 4 in appendix shows
colors and feelings in detail.
1.2.4. Color and Gender
Genders perceptions regarding colors vary. Men are more tolerant of black, white and gray
as compared to women, and women more frequently reacted to red and blue combinations
(Khouw, 2002). They also argued that adults also preferred the combination of red and blue.
These historical findings suggest that gender perception regarding color differ.
2. Application of Color in Marketing
Hues have all the earmarks of being confrontational. Several speculations or rumors have
given rise due to the lack of conclusive scientific studies relating to colors. Some advances
in the research have been observed regarding this phenomenon but it came from companies
in the color consultation industry. Although, the nature of their research is not experimental,
their results mostly depend on general agreement among marketers (Singh, 2006). Some
applications of color in marketing are reported below;
2.1. Colors and Restaurants
Fast-food restaurants preferred red color because it affects our metabolism. Fast-food
moguls also used yellow color to attract customers’ attention, increase appetite and motivate
them to eat. To generate high sales this is considered the best way for fast-food restaurants.
On the other hand, formal restaurants use blue color to relax and calm their customers.
Formal restaurants use such type of strategy to improve their sales. Kido (2003) linked blue
to calm state. They also argued that excessive use of blue color can be appetite suppressant.
2.2. Colors and Waiting Time
Colors influence perception regarding passage of time. Under a red-light object seem heavier
and longer and time seems to pass slowly. On the other side, under a blue light objects seem
lighter and smaller and time seems to pass very quickly. Casinos take advantage from this
strategy- by using red lighting to excite their customers and make their feeling that they are
not wasting more time in casinos.
2.3. Colors and Brands
Colors evoke brands. Whether it is Cadburys purple, Coca-Cola’s red, Heineken’s green and
Shell’s yellow, all these companies have different color values to different customers.
Tutssel (2000) argued that color attached strong emotional feeling that prompt an immediate
response to packaging than either the written work. As we discuss earlier, the meanings of
colors changes with every culture. Product having a gray packaging are considered cheap
goods in China and Japan while in US it is considered a high-quality goods; likely in US
cheap goods are labeled or pack in purple color and in Asian context expensive goods are
labeled or pack in purple color. Thus, companies pay more attention to brands color to
attract a larger segment (Grossman & Wisenblit, 1999).
3. Conclusion
Hues are disputable. A few therapists trust that human reactions to colors are steady, along
these lines pertinent to everybody. While some psychologists are disagreeing with this
notion. They believe that colors preferences vary from individual to individual and from
culture to culture, and between gender and age group. Marketing managers should aware and
select the most preferred colors to gain competitive advantage. Walls colors of store and
product packaging can attract customers’ attention and increase their sales drastically.
Before launching a new product, managers should conduct a research regarding colors of the
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product because wrong or inappropriate color will generate negative image in the minds of
customers about the product and or company. Global managers should be aware of different
colors meanings in different cultures and divide market in multi-segment to boost sales. Now
a day’s dining out is use for social gathering than eating (Kulman, 2001). People frequency
to visits restaurants will increase number of restaurants. Owners differentiate their restaurant
from the crowd through attracting customers and to increase profitability. Research shows
that appropriate use of walls and carpets colors will increase food sales. In short, marketing
managers should give careful attention to their products colors in order to gain a large
market share through a huge sale.
4. Future Research Direction
The purpose of this research was to study the psychology of colors in marketing. The current
research just reviews past literature about the impact of color on marketing. Future research
is needed to explore this matter in detail by conducting an experimental research or by using
survey questionnaire to quantify the results of the study. Future research should compare
different brands based on their colors by taking Pakistani sample.
Boyatzis, C. J., & Varghese, R. (1994). Children's emotional associations with colors. The
Journal of genetic psychology, 155(1), 77-85.
Dijkstra, K., Pieterse, M. E., & Pruyn, A. T. H. (2008). Individual differences in reactions
towards color in simulated healthcare environments: The role of stimulus screening
ability. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 28(3), 268-277.
Gopikrishna, R., & Kumar, M. (2015). A Conceptual Study on Psychology of Colour in
Marketing and Branding. International Journal of Economic Research, 12(2).
Hemphill, M. (1996). A note on adults' coloremotion associations. The Journal of genetic
psychology, 157(3), 275-280.
Khouw, N. (2002). The meaning of color for gender, Colors MattersResearch.
Kido, Y. (2003). Anti-miscegenation and Asian Americans. Historical Review,108(5).
Kotler, P. (1973). Atmospherics as a marketing tool. Journal of retailing,49(4), 48-64.
Kulman, L. (2001). In today’s restaurants, color my sushi beautiful. US News & World
Report, 130(2), 56.
Labrecque, L. I., & Milne, G. R. (2012). Exciting red and competent blue: the importance of
color in marketing. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 40(5), 711-727.
Palmer, S. E., & Schloss, K. B. (2010). An ecological valence theory of human color
preference. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,107(19), 8877-8882.
Plieninger, T., Dijks, S., Oteros-Rozas, E., & Bieling, C. (2013). Assessing, mapping, and
quantifying cultural ecosystem services at community level.Land use policy, 33,
Priluck Grossman, R., & Wisenblit, J. Z. (1999). What we know about consumers' color
choices. Journal of marketing practice: Applied marketing science, 5(3), 78-88.
Singh, S. (2006). Impact of color on marketing. Management decision, 44(6), 783-789.
Tutssel, G. (2000). But you can judge a brand by its color. Brand Strategy, November, 8-9.
Wiegersma, S., & Van der Elst, G. (1988). Blue Phenomenon: Spontaneity or
Preference? Perceptual and Motor Skills, 66(1), 308-310.
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Table 1: How Colors Attract Specific Shoppers
Types of Shopper
Impulse buyers
Fast food, outlet malls,
Orange, royal blue, black, red
Clearance sales
Buyers on a
Banks, larger department
Navy blue, teat
Clothing stores
Pink, rose, sky blue
Source: Lam, Shun, and Campbell, 2013
Table 2
Introducing color groups and their application
Comments and Recommendation
The Excitable
The most emotionally intense color; Shows
Provides a strong heart rate; A sign of anger or
It is vivid and demands attention; Increasing
Happy and sunny day; Too much is
hard to look
Vibrant color and less intense than red & yellow. It
Energy; Warmth; Strength;
It is cool and calm; The Symbol of royalty;
company’s color
Related to intelligence; stable and conservative;
The Calming Colors
Symbolizes nature, life, renewable, & environment;
wealth Calming and relaxing; can also mean greed,
jealousy or envy
Romantic and attractive; cheerful and playful;
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Luxury; wealth; complexity and royalty; rare
in nature
Represents power and authority; serious and
The cryptic and bad; classy
The Neutral Colors
the color of purity; conveys innocence &
color of earth & Implies
Wholesomeness; sable & material;
unhappy or eager
conservative and formal; moody and balance;
Source: Nezhad & Kavehnezhad,
Table 3
The meanings of colors in major countries
Countries Meanings of Colors
color of celebration and happiness; long life and vitality
shows love and beauty; fertility and purity; power and wealth
danger and anger; life
related to communism; used in marriage ceremony
color of earth and land;
ceremonial color
Eastern feminine
very good suitable for both male and female
Tuesday’s color
love and romantic for women
baby girls feminine color
items cost effective and cheap
happiness; spirituality
Thursday’s color
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imperial and sacred
honor, royalty and sacred; color of masculine
auspicious and sacred merchant’s symbol
beauty; courage; aristocracy
joy; happiness; hopeful; cowardly
new life; hope; fertility
hope; new life; exorcism and disgrace
lucky color; Patrick’s Day; jealousy; greed
considered not good for packing
South America
North Africa
corruption and the drug culture
Source: Author itself
Table 4
The meanings of colors in
meanings of colors
sacrifice; sin
love and passion; sacrifice
saffron; auspicious and sacred color
yellow star badges of the Middle Ages and post war
Christ’s color
the Krishna’s color
Mary’s robe color
mourning; death; crucifixion
unhappiness; bad luck; evil
Source: Nezhad & Kavehnezhad, 2013
... In particolare, i nostri sensi giocano un ruolo fondamentale nella comprensione del mondo circostante. Il senso della vista è sicuramente il più influente quando si tratta di effettuare una scelta (Khattak, Ali, Khan et al., 2018). Saper veicolare un'emozione attraverso un artefatto può essere uno strumento molto interessante che influenza il processo decisionale di un individuo. ...
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... The color factor can affect the marketing of a product because the color can evoke a mood that leads the buying interest from consumers. According to research, in marketing a product, men prefer darker colors [22]. The configuration of the bag product is also very important as a factor that can affect human activities in interacting with the product. ...
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Meningkatnya penggunaan internet di Indonesia khususnya di tengah pandemi Covid-19, telah menjadi pertimbangan khusus dalam merancang logo baru program studi Desain Komunikasi Visual Universitas 'Aisyiyah Bandung untuk dapat eksis di masyarakat, terutama pada media digital. Penelitian ini bertujuan untuk merancang logo program studi yang bersifat responsif ketika diterapkan di berbagai media, yang menekankan bentuk-bentuk geometri sebagai identitas visual keislaman. Perancangan dilakukan dengan menggunakan strategi desain linear. Pengumpulan data dilakukan melalui studi literatur dan observasi visual terhadap tiga buah logo yang sejenis, dan kemudian dianalisis menggunakan matriks perbandingan. Hasil perancangan adalah sebuah logo program studi Desain Komunikasi Visual Universitas ‘Aisyiyah Bandung yang disusun dari bentuk-bentuk geometri dan memiliki golden ratio, serta memiliki beberapa alternatif konfigurasi yang mencerminkan sifatnya sebagai logo yang responsif di berbagai media digital. Penelitian ini dapat menjadi contoh untuk melakukan perancangan logo-logo lainnya yang serupa, khususnya dalam lingkup Universitas ‘Aisyiyah yang dibalut dengan nuansa keislaman.
This research paper presents the result of a psychological survey of colors for Indian users. The major goal of this survey is to find out the emotions evoked after observing particular colors. It, also, investigates about the most favorite colors of the Indian users. Color is a major factor impacting user’s decision when selecting products among given variety of goods and services. Every user’s perception and response to a certain color is different. Some users are attracted by a specific color, while others may not. This presents a challenge to the product designer while selecting a suitable color for product or its user interface, one is designing. In this survey, the user has been presented with 11 emotions associated with 11 colors as suggested by an interesting article from The users were asked to select the emotion that each color evokes, based on their experience and understanding. Furthermore, the user had been asked to select his/her maximum three favorite colors out of these 11 colors. The user survey is aimed at wider range of age groups as (13–22 years), (23–59 years) and 60+ years. This survey involves both male and female users and a total of 225 valid responses were received. A deviation in the users’ emotional perception has been observed for the four colors, viz. Orange, Blue, Brown and Grey. Moreover, the top three favorite colors selected by the Indian users were Black, Blue and White, respectively. The results of this survey will guide the product designers as well as user interface designers in selection of appropriate colors when designing products, mobile apps or user interfaces. This survey will help product designers to influence the user’s buying decisions and maximization of the product sale.
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Color preference is an important aspect of visual experience, but little is known about why people in general like some colors more than others. Previous research suggested explanations based on biological adaptations [Hurlbert AC, Ling YL (2007) Curr Biol 17:623-625] and color-emotions [Ou L-C, Luo MR, Woodcock A, Wright A (2004) Color Res Appl 29:381-389]. In this article we articulate an ecological valence theory in which color preferences arise from people's average affective responses to color-associated objects. An empirical test provides strong support for this theory: People like colors strongly associated with objects they like (e.g., blues with clear skies and clean water) and dislike colors strongly associated with objects they dislike (e.g., browns with feces and rotten food). Relative to alternative theories, the ecological valence theory both fits the data better (even with fewer free parameters) and provides a more plausible, comprehensive causal explanation of color preferences.
The main purpose of this paper is to explain the literature relating to colour psychology in the context of marketing, highlights inconsistencies and controversies surrounding the colour psychology, and, examines the impact of colours on marketing. Psychology of colour as it relates to persuasion is one of the most interesting and most controversial aspects of marketing. Colour is the meaningful constant for sighted people and it's a most powerful psychological tool. By using colour psychology you can send positive or negative message, encourage sales, calm a crowd or make an athlete pump iron harder. We employ the colour psychology in all facets of marketing and particularly in logo design, cover of a book or package of a product. IJER
Recent studies of the “Blue Phenomenon” have shown that in some countries outside the USA not ‘blue’, but ‘red’ or ‘black’ is the predominant color choice. It is argued that the differences between countries, in addition to an explanation by cultural factors, might reflect different formulations of the question used to provoke a response. It is shown that in the Netherlands responses to the question to write ‘your favorite color’ are considerably different from responses to the question to write ‘the first color name that comes to mind.’ It is concluded that comparison of color-production phenomena over countries requires a better control over formulation of the question.
From beverages to consumer electronics, marketers are using color in innovative ways. Despite this, little academic research has investigated the role that color plays in marketing. This paper examines how color affects consumer perceptions through a series of four studies. The authors provide a framework and empirical evidence that draws on research in aesthetics, color psychology, and associative learning to map hues onto brand personality dimensions (Study 1), as well as examine the roles of saturation and value for amplifying brand personality traits (Study 2). The authors also demonstrate how marketers can strategically use color to alter brand personality and purchase intent (Study 3), and how color influences the likability and familiarity of a brand (Study 4). The results underscore the importance of recognizing the impact of color in forming consumer brand perceptions.
Purpose Color is ubiquitous and is a source of information. People make up their minds within 90 seconds of their initial interactions with either people or products. About 62‐90 percent of the assessment is based on colors alone. So, prudent use of colors can contribute not only to differentiating products from competitors, but also to influencing moods and feelings – positively or negatively – and therefore, to attitude towards certain products. Given that our moods and feelings are unstable and that colors play roles in forming attitude, it is important that managers understand the importance of colors in marketing. The study is designed to contribute to the debate. Design/methodology/approach This article reviews the literature relating to color psychology in the context of marketing, highlights inconsistencies and controversies surrounding the color psychology, and, examines the impact of colors on marketing. Findings Findings of the study are that managers can use colors to increase or decrease appetite, enhance mood, calm down customers, and, reduce perception of waiting time, among others. Research limitations/implications The direction for future research and limitations of the study are presented. Originality/value Reviews the literature relating to color psychology in the context of marketing.
Marketing practitioners know that a product’s color may play an important role in a consumer’s purchase decision, but may not be familiar with the empirical research that has been conducted in this area. The purpose of this paper is to apply an associative learning framework to the color literature to help understand consumer color choices. Specifically, the principles of classical conditioning, a form of associative learning, will be used to make suggestions to practitioners who wish to create or change color associations for their products. The implications of the findings from the color literature are discussed.
The notion that the physical healthcare environment can affect our mood and behavior is well established. Despite this, individual differences in sensitivity to environmental stimuli have not received much attention. With the current research showing the importance of individual differences in sensitivity towards color, these may explain the contradictory effects found in color research. Two experiments focused on differences in environmental sensitivity, measured with stimulus screening ability. In both experiments, participants were presented with a scenario describing hospitalization with appendicitis and were exposed to a photo of a hospital room. The experiments tested the effects of environmental coloring of the hospital room (green and orange, both contrasted with white as a control condition), and the moderating role of stimulus screening ability (high-screeners vs. low-screeners) on stress (study 1) and arousal (study 2), and cognitive appraisals of the room (study 2). Stress-reducing effects of green and arousal-inducing effects of orange were both more pronounced for people scoring low on stimulus screening ability than for those who are able to effectively screen out complexity in the environment (high-screeners).
Special Topic: The World of Transnational Asian Americans : Session Two: Asian American Immigrants and Boundaries of Race