Color is the first thing that hits your eye creating a visual sensation. Preferring a particular color depends on various factors. These parameters are going to be the deciding factor in the ultimate success of a color and furthermore the product. When a customer walks into a store, the first glimpse he gets, decides the ambiance of the store. One could categorize the store as dark, vibrant, cheerful or classy, all on the basis of the color scheme being used there. It engages the observer and it creates an inner wisdom of order, a balance in the visual understanding. When something is not harmonious, it's either dreary or muddled. At one extreme is a visual experience that is so insipid that the viewer is not engaged. The human brain will reject under-stimulating information. At the other extreme is a visual occurrence that is so overdone, so frenzied that the observer can't stand to look at it. The human brain rejects what it cannot categorize, what it cannot comprehend. The visual task requires that we present a logical structure. Color harmony delivers visual interest and a sense of order. In this entire scenario color plays an important role.


In marketing, on a grass root level we have the product, price, place and its promotion. Each of these four factors is equally governed by color itself. The decisions for selecting the color are not only a designers job but also an equal responsibility of the marketing people. All of the above mentioned factors are interlinked and co-dependent. Majority of the buying decisions that a consumer makes is governed by his emotions foremost. Logic comes at a later stage.


Firstly the product; consumers have their own preference for selected colors when it comes to different product categories. For instance the color of toothpaste can be red or blue or green when it is in gel form, it can be the classic white in paste form or at the most it can incorporate a pastel shade. But toothpaste that is yellow in color is definitely going to leave a negative impact on the user. After all, the customer wants white teeth rather than yellow teeth. Psychology tells us that colors have an association with emotions and human reactions. At times, the way people perceive and react to colors is also affected by their cultural and geographic backgrounds. Most of the colors have positive as well as negative connection. These relations with color have been a part of many societies for centuries and you must be aware of both the positive and the negative implications of using particular colors when marketing to these societies. A perfect example would be, white color is used in bridal dresses as per Christianity because it symbolizes purity. On the other hand, in India, white is worn by widows. Based on these prevalent common color perceptions, products have typical color schemes, which are decided by their use and the surroundings.


There are situations when the price of a product changes just because we are changing the color. This change of price happens because the materials and the chemicals used for making the pigment and dyes change. As a result, metallic colors in Automobiles are pricier than the normal colors. Whichever medium of color you use, whether it is painted, molded with the material or powder coated, color variations in a product design are definitely going to have a huge impact on the financials. One drawback of using color variations in a product could be the increase in overall costing as well as the time duration required for finalizing the design. A lot of time gets spent in color matching and lab dips, as getting the perfect match is difficult, rare and very crucial for the products hit. The marketing team needs to make a tough decision, whether to include color variation as part of their marketing plan, because of the monetary reasons.

The response to colour is not just biological. It is also influenced by colour associations from our culture and geographical location. A perception of cultural color and imagery is vital to someone doing trade with other countries and other societies. Times change and old associations may be slowly altered over the years. Western cultures have adopted some Eastern color uses while some Eastern cultures have adopted Western ideas. The Internet has allowed people to learn about other cultures and to adopt what they like from these cultures. Even in case of a domestic market area different places have different color preferences. In a large country like India, where we have prominent north, south, east west and a central region, each area has a particular taste when it comes to colors. Geographically, color preference might also be dependent on the surroundings; Rajasthan has a lot of desert, with earthy hue. In contrast, the handicrafts and textiles have very bright colors. Bandhani, for instance has beautiful patterns of red and green, orange and blue etc. This disparity is also seen in other locations as well. While selecting colors for a product marketing plan, the place where the product is meant for consumption holds a critical role.


Promotion includes all of the techniques of communication that a marketer may use to offer information to consumers about the product. It would involve essentials like advertising, sales promotions, etc. In any form of communication that the marketing teams may choose, the Principle of Attraction is of vital significance. An attractive color and an impressive layout are the two things that hold an advertisement together. Thus it becomes essential to use colors that project a particular image of the brand. Whether the product is for kids, is it for the elderly or is it a gender based product. All of these factors have to be incorporated and these are reflected only by intelligent use of colors which further connect it to the human factor.


In general, the preference for colors would depend on the following factors:

  • Gender

  • Age

  • Cultural background

  • Climatic conditions

  • End uses


There is nothing as a good color or a bad color. The success rate of a product with reference to its color would totally depend on the way we perceive it and react to it. So choose your colors wisely as it can make or break your business.


About the Author:


Subhashree Sarkar is a Faculty at the School of Retail Management at FDDI- Noida.