Adapted from Michael R. Solomon, Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having and Being 9th ed, Prentice Hall, to be published January 2010:
Welcome to the new era of sensory marketing, where companies pay extra attention to the impact of sensations on our product experiences. From hotels to carmakers to brewers, they recognize that our senses help us to decide which products appeal to us—and which ones stand out from a host of similar offerings in the marketplace.
For example, researchers report that colors influence our emotions in profound ways. Evidence suggests that some colors (particularly red) create feelings of arousal and stimulate appetite, and others (such as blue) create more relaxing feelings (American Express launched its Blue card after its research found that people describe the color as “providing a sense of limitlessness and peace.”). Advertisements of products presented against a backdrop of blue are better liked than when shown against a red background, and cross-cultural research indicates a consistent preference for blue whether people live in Canada or Hong Kong.
People who complete tasks when the words or images appear on red backgrounds perform better when they have to remember details, while they excel at tasks that require an imaginative response when these are displayed on blue backgrounds. Olympic athletes who wear red uniforms are more likely to defeat competitors in blue uniforms, and men rate women who wear red as more attractive than those who wear blue. In one study, interior designers created bars decorated primarily in red, yellow or blue and people were invited to choose one to hang out in. More people chose the yellow and red rooms, and these guests were more social and active. – and ate more. But, partygoers in the blue room stayed longer. For marketers, color choices may go well beyond aesthetics.