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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Colour associations across cultures




Colours have special meaning across cultures. Both colour and appearance are very important marketing and communication elements in the food industry. People have developed specific associations and symbolism around colours, which drive them to adopt or reject a product.  These associations are very important when comes to establish new food products in a new market.  Some examples of this cultural diversity on colours are illustrated in the table below.  

 
COUNTRY
SYMBOL
MEANING OR ASSOCIATION
Iran
Blue
Funeral colour, mourning
Egupt, Syria
Green
Nationalist colour
Gold Coast
Pairs of items
Disapproved
Japan
White
Colour of mourning
Nicaragua
Brown, Grey
Disapproved
Latin America
Purple
Death
Thailand
Feet
Regard as despicable
 Examples of cultural taboos of marketing significance involving colour and appearance
 





The diversity of colour associations depicts the different communication approach which is required. That implies a totally different marketing mix, from culture to culture. Especially on food communication we must be very aware of these symbolisms in order to get the right message across.  This can be a reason why global brands adopt not only their image but also their products to the local markets, in order to be competitive. 

In the table below we illustrate some common examples of colour associations.
Colour
Strong association
Little association
Red
Protective, powerful
Peacful, soothing
Orange
Ecxiting
Peaceful, soothing, Dignified
Yellow
Exciting, cheerful, pleasant
Dignified, strong, despondent, protective
Green

Dignified, strong, Melancholy, protective
Blue
Pleasant, secure, soothing
Disturbed, unhappy, hostile
Puple
Dignified, stately
Stimulating, cheerful
Brown
Secure
Gheerfulm histile, exciting, strong, pleasant
White
Tender
Exciting, despondent, hostile, upset, strong
Grey, Back
Unhappy, Disturbed, Hostile, Dejected, stately, strong
Exciting, secure, tender, joyful, pleasant, calm
 Associations and non-associations between colours and mood-tones (adapted from Scaie 1961 American Journal of Psychology, University of Illinois Press)


Researches have shown that there are a psychophysical relationships  between colour and flavour.


These included:
  • Addition of red, increased perceived Sweetness by 5-10%
  • Addition of blue to cherry or to strawberry, decreased Tartness and fruit Flavour by up to 20%
  • Addition of blue to raspberry, decreased Tartness by 1%
  • Addition of yellow to cherry and strawberry, could decrease Sweetness by 20%, and fruit flavour by 3-5%

Colour strongly affects the shelf image of a product which leads directly to the buy or not to buy decision.  To make people adopt a food product in their diet, we have to make it familiar with the local culture.  One part of this process is definitely the appearance.  Consequently, through different associations on colour, we can understand the cultural diversity along markets.

George Gkekas | International Business Developer 
Source: FOOD COLOUR AND APPEARANCE | J.B. Hutchings
Photography 1 by:  Ben Heine
Photography 2 by: fooditerranean

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5 comments:

  1. Most words ending in an unstressed -our in British English (e.g. colour, flavour, harbour, honour, humour, labour, neighbour, rumour) end in -or in American English (cf. color, flavor, honor, harbor, neighbor, rumor, labor, humor). Wherever the vowel is unreduced in pronunciation, this does not occur: e.g. contour, velour, paramour and troubadour are spelled thus the same everywhere.
    Color or colour (see spelling differences) is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue, and others. Color derives from the spectrum of light (distribution of light power versus wavelength) interacting in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of the light receptors. Color categories and physical specifications of color are also associated with objects, materials, light sources, etc., based on their physical properties such as light absorption, reflection, or emission spectra. By defining a color space, colors can be identified numerically by their coordinates.

    Source: wikipedia.org

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