A new study suggests that consumers tend to be influenced by colors associated with a brand when judging their ethicality.
In a study published in the Journal of Business Ethics, researchers from the University of Oregon and University of Cincinnati have found that shoppers make assumptions on brands based on color.
Aparna Sundar, marketing professor in the Lundquist College of Business and the lead researcher on the project said “What we’re finding is that color is one of those things that actually biases the way consumers make ethical judgments.”
The research confirmed that green makes the consumer lean towards the assumption of a brand’s eco-friendliness. “Going Green” is the most common slogan for environment-friendly branding after all. Greenwashing, or the dissemination of information that the company is eco-friendly for the benefit of its public image, is a legitimate marketing strategy.
But surprisingly, it isn’t the most eco-friendly color for consumers.
“Interestingly, blue is ‘greener’ than green in terms of conveying an impression of eco-friendliness, despite the frequent use of the word ‘green’ to convey that idea,” said James Kellaris from Carl H. Lindner College of Business and the research co-author.
In one of the research studies, shoppers were presented with a fictitious logo with the colors associated with the known brand. They considered retailers using Walmart’s blue or Sam’s green in their logos to be more eco-friendly than retailers using Trader Joe’s red.
In another study, shoppers were presented with a fictitious retailer, DAVY Grocery Store, to judge the company’s actions in morally-ambiguous scenarios. The respondents only saw the logo for DAVY Grocery Store presented in either an eco-friendly or unfriendly color. The results showed that the eco-friendly-colored logo was judged favorably than the unfriendly one.
A follow up study also found out that consumers tend to be more critical of retailers with eco-friendly colors when faced with an action that was definitely ethical or unethical.
This study supports the impact of color psychology in the perception of companies.
Do you agree with blue as the color for eco-friendliness? Comment below!