Color Me Sold! The Effect of Color on Marketing (Part 2 of 2)


Color is just as meaningful in marketing as it is in our everyday lives.  For example, to some of us, the color blue isn’t just a color- it’s a feeling.  But for others, it represents tranquility.  Every year, marketing experts for various companies spend a great deal of time and energy trying to figure out what colors will attract buyers to their businesses.  To the unassuming consumer, the hard work put in by marketers goes largely unnoticed.  However, deep in our subconscious, we are drawn to certain colors for reasons that some of us even have trouble explaining.

According to an article by June Campbell entitled Color Psychology in Marketing, the effects of color differ from person to person, culture to culture.  Therefore, it is important that we remember to keep the attitudes and preferences of our target audience in mind when picking out a color scheme and/or planning any sort of promotional design.  Campbell continues to list the following color associations for North American culture:

  • Red: excitement, strength, sex, passion, speed, danger
  • Blue: *listed as most popular color–trust, reliability, belonging, coolness
  • Yellow: warmth, sunshine, cheer, happiness
  • Orange: playfulness, warmth, vibrant
  • Green: nature, fresh, cool, growth, abundance
  • Purple: royal, spirituality, dignity
  • Pink: soft, sweet, nurture, security
  • White: pure, virginal, clean, youthful, mild
  • Black: sophistication, elegant, seductive, mystery
  • Gold: prestige, expensive
  • Silver: prestige, cold, scientific

Finally, Campbell states:

Market researchers have also determined that color affects shopping habits. Impulse shoppers respond best to red-orange, black and royal blue. Shoppers who plan and stick to budgets respond best to pink, teal, light blue and navy. Traditionalists respond to pastels – pink, rose, sky blue.

Why Color Matters in Marketing

According to a site called Color Matters, the importance of color and marketing is laid out quite neatly in the following three points:

  1. Research conducted by the secretariat of the Seoul International Color Expo 2004 documented the following relationships between color and marketing: 92.6 percent said that they put most importance on visual factors when purchasing products. Only 5.6 percent said that the physical feel via the sense of touch was most important. Hearing and smell each drew 0.9 percent. When asked to approximate the importance of color when buying products, 84.7 percent of the total respondents think that color accounts for more than half among the various factors important for choosing products. Source
  2. Research reveals people make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone.  Source: CCICOLOR – Institute for Color Research
  3. Research by the Henley Centre suggests 73% of purchasing decisions are now made in-store. Consequently, catching the shopper’s eye and conveying information effectively are critical to successful sales.

Are Marketing Experts Being Sneaky?

Some might argue that marketing experts aren’t only being sneaky; they’re manipulating people into buying things that they really don’t want and/or need.  I leave it up to you to decide as to whether or not this is true.  The fact remains, however, that when I recently went to the clothing store and saw that burnt-orange sweater, I wanted it- not because I needed a burnt-orange sweater, but because something about the color appealed to me.  Congratulations, Roxy– you just earned yourself another customer.

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