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Friday, November 21, 2014

The psychology of packaging: What the color of your packaging says about your product

Color psychology and consumer behavior
Packaging color seeks to influence consumer behavior
By Andrew Fujii

There has been much research and much debate about the effects colors have on the emotions of humans. Can the color red really make someone hungrier? Can baby blue bring about a calming sensation?

While a variety of studies point to the fact that colors can elicit specific emotions amongst humans, they can be a little misleading.

While certain colors elicit certain emotions, they are generally not ubiquitous throughout the population. Other factors play important roles in determining how a person reacts to colors. 

With that said, studies have shown that the color plays a significant role in terms of snap judgements about products. This makes the color choice of your product labeling an incredibly important decision.

Color and personal experience

A person’s upbringing will affect how they perceive a specific color. Things such as cultural differences and personal experiences can greatly determine the preferences and emotions that are evoked from a specific color.

For example, blue is a widely preferred color. For most, blue skies meant a great, calm weathered day. On the flipside a person may not like white because it reminds them of a sterile hospital if they were in and out of one as a child. A different person might associate white with purity or flowers and enjoy the color.

This means that the individual color of your product packaging may not have as much as a bearing as how the color relates your product to the consumer. In short, do not package your product in a certain color to evoke a certain emotion. Package your product in a color that matches your brand and product.

An intense, military-style workout video might not want to use a pink, sparkly case.

Color and gender

Unsurprisingly, genders have differing color preferences. Growing up, many females were conditioned to like “girly” colors such as purple or pink while males were conditioned to think that those types of colors didn’t have enough machismo. Whether a color should be assigned a specific color is a completely different topic that I won’t get into here.

Blue is the preferred color by both genders. The main disparity is that green is the second highest preferred color by males whereas the second most preferred color by females is purple.

Men also have a tendency to prefer bright colors and shades of their favorite colors whereas women prefer softer colors and tints of their favorite colors.

When packaging your product it is important to keep these things in mind. If your product is primarily targeted to men, it is in your best interest to use one of their preferred colors. Alternatively, you should a color preferred by women if your product is targeted towards women.

Color coordination

Color coordination can affect your product packaging because it forces a viewer’s eyes towards something in particular. In most situations you have a background, base and accent.

The background and base are generally your packaging’s color scheme. The accent can either be your product name or a form of call to action. For example, if your line of sodas has just introduced a new flavor, you might add in a violator with the words “New Flavor!” on it. That violator should create an isolation effect, causing it to stand out and be memorable.

Color names

Believe it or not, the name of a color can actually have an affect on how someone perceives it. The best example of this is brown. Brown is typically not a highly preferred color. You don’t see people walking around in brown jeans or many sports team using the color brown for their team (sorry, Cleveland Browns fans).

However, mocha, a variation of brown is actually quite popular. This is especially true for products like makeup or wall paint. No one wants to wear brown eyeliner but if were renamed as “mocha” it would be used. People won’t paint their living room walls with brown paint, but if it were called “mocha”, they would.

So what does your color mean?

Colors have been psychologically proven to be associated with certain feelings. As stated earlier, there are a lot of other factors that actually play a role in determining how a color is associated with a person’s emotions. Regardless, you shouldn’t be cheated of some good, old fashion color to emotion labeling.

Red = Strong, feelings of excitement, and associated with love
Blue = Calm, feelings of sadness, and associated with productivity
Green = Nature, health, luck, stress relief
Yellow = Cheery, warmth, frustration, and it is the most fatiguing to the eye
Orange = Energetic, enthusiastic, attention getting
Purple = Royalty, wealth, wisdom, exotic
Brown = Strength, reliability, comfort, security

About the author: Andrew Fujii is a marketing professional with expertise in digital/web and content marketing. He is also a copywriter for multiple agencies producing copy for blogs, articles, websites, product packaging, mobile apps, and more.


Image: Pko, US-PD