Global Market Bias Part 1: Color

The Global Market Bias research project is a series of studies examining visual and brand language around the world. It is a collaboration between Cheskin, MSI-ITM and CMCD's Visual Symbols Library. In part 1 of their report; it explores the associations various regions make with color.

I have taken some very interesting points out from the report:
  • People from a variety of countries think of America as black, rather than Red, white and Blue
  • Levi’s is identified with blue rather than red, their brand identity color.
  • In Latin America, orange says excitement.
  • Too many brands are linked to blue. Marketing implications: don't go blue if you are a new brand
  • Every country says blue as their favourite colour
  • Use the color yellow when you talk with people about color and you want to be really clear
  • Purple is the second most popular color. More than twice as many women than men consider purple their favorite color. Marketing implications: Use purple if you’re trying to reach women, especially women in English-speaking regions, and you want to create powerful positive associations with your product or service.

Asia is the most complex when it comes to color associations:

  • Most of the world finds blue a happy color; the Chinese think power and reliability; the Koreans think technology and the Japanese think it is a sad color
  • Most of the world sees red as an inspiration of strong feelings of excitement and danger. In China, red is all about power, prestige, and happiness. Koreans are unique in the world in their association of red with innovation and somewhat surprisingly, the company LG.
  • White is strongly associated with the notion of fresh throughout the world. Like the Koreans, the Chinese find white to be sad. While people in most regions of the world associate color with emotions, people in Asia connect color with nature. Does that mean Asians are more attuned to the natural world, or do they simply prefer to keep their emotions to themselves? What marketing implication is there for this??
  • Yellow is typically thought of as a happy color. However, Japan associates yellow with danger
  • Purple is seen as a prestige color every-where except China
  • Green is the third most popular color around the world. In China, the association to environmentally green is highest at 98 percent. The Chinese also associate green with fresh and power. The Koreans (but not the Japanese) associate green with reliability and high quality.
  • Black is associated consistently throughout Asia with high quality. Black also means power and technology.
  • The Chinese find orange related to power and prestige. Orange is commonly used in branding in Europe but not in Asia. Marketing implications: opportunities to play up orange in Asia.

Love connection: Red is the universal color of love: hot, dangerous and exciting! In Asia, orange has the second highest love connection. In English-speaking countries, purple is the romantic runner-up, while in Brazil, Mexico and France, white speaks of romance. Yellow nearly equals red’s heat in Spain. It seems the language of love has many nuances, no matter where in the world you are.

As globalization increases and countries in the Middle East experience economic and political awakenings similar to China, companies will have an opportunity to use color in very interesting marketing ways — in communications, branding, product development and design.

Please click here if you want to have access to the full report as well as other interesting reports.

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