Color As a Marketing Tool


Because we live in a world inundated with colors, we are apt to become desensitized to the impact they can have on our emotional responses and preferences. The fact that we are so easily manipulated has not been lost on product marketing companies who have studied the psychology behind each color and how it can be used to influence us to purchase their products. Interestingly, the emotions stirred by certain colors in America may not be the same as those in other parts of the world or other cultures. Since color appreciation is a learned behavior, we tend to value colors in the same way our society has.

Occasionally trends can change that, but many colors have indelibly imprinted themselves, and even though they speak subliminally, they steer our attitudes in powerful ways. By correctly analyzing the way a color stirs a positive response in the targeted audience, manufacturers can increase its sales potential. Conversely, a bad color choice can ruin a product no matter how superior its performance may have been. Clear-colored Coca Cola was a dismal failure, even though the taste was identical, because the public was not comfortable with a color that varied so much from the traditional look. Green ketchup was a great novelty alternative but did not last on the market because people prefer their ketchup to be red.

Research has shown that 93% of customers value the color and appearance of a product over any other factor, including its performance. In fact, 85% of shoppers say that color packaging actually determines their purchase. It is obvious that color is a very strong emotional cue. It is also the first thing that we notice about a product and the detail we remember the longest, even beyond word descriptions. If you have ever caught yourself hunting for "the one in the blue box," you can identify with this.

The average shopper passes about 300 products every minute while strolling down a store aisle. For that reason, a compelling color package needs to really stand out to grab your attention. Some manufacturers deliberately mimic another successful brand, hoping that you'll be tempted to actually pick up their product by mistake some of the time. The chances of your buying theirs are greatly increased once you have touched it. Other manufacturers go for a totally different look, a contrast that will make their product stand out more easily.

Matching the inherent meaning behind a color and the purpose of a product is important for immediate interest and subsequent purchase. For example, orange is an energetic, call-to-action kind of color. What better choice for a laundry soap like Tide, that will really tackle your stains? Blue and green are calming colors that suggest professionalism, loyalty, trust and business. Banks and many business Internet sites use these colors to advertise themselves. Contact lens products always come in blue or green packaging as well. Can you imagine wanting them in a red box, especially since red can symbolize blood, fire, anger, passion, bloodshot eyes, etc.?

Green used to refer to fat-free foods, but today it is synonymous with health, nature and eco-friendly products. It also traditionally speaks to youth, rebirth and renewal. When Volkswagen wanted to introduce its reinvented Beetle, it showcased a neon green version-a classic brought back to life. People were attracted to it enough to enter the showroom, but they usually bought other colors. However, it was successful in that it captured an audience that eventually purchased.

Color has the ability to influence our emotions and attitudes, perception of temperature, noise and sound, odor and taste. The next time you start to pick a product off the shelf, ask yourself how much of your decision has been made by the color of the package. You might be surprised.




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