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How Color Affects Your Spending

Find out which colors are subconciously associated with certain feelings, and how that affects how much you spend at the mall.

By Yelena Moroz Alpert
Illustration of a chalkboard and marketing



Although plenty of shops embrace this color (and still find financial success), market experts warn that, just like a stop sign, a red placard can make consumers hit the brakes. It serves as an alarm, triggering a more careful consideration of our outlays.


Purple reigns in the beauty industry, especially in the category of anti-aging products. When people see it, they think of royalty. Consequently, a purple box may help persuade us that the product has special properties and is worth a princely sum.


 In branding, white suggests simplicity and purity. (Seventy-five percent of top skin-care brands are packaged in white.) It also stands for modernity and honesty, which may be why Apple swears by it.


A mainstay at fast-food restaurants, yellow evokes energy and increases appetite, perhaps explaining why your stomach may start to growl when you pass those golden arches.

The Experts

Adam Alter, an assistant professor of marketing at New York University and the author of the forthcoming book Drunk Tank Pink ($26,

Barry J. Babin, the chair of the department of marketing and analysis at Louisiana Tech University, in Ruston.

Rajesh Bagchi, an associate professor of marketing at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg.

Leatrice Eiseman, based in Bainbridge Island, Washington, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.

Karen Grant, a vice president at the NPD Group, a market-research company in Port Washington, New York.

Lily Lev-Glick, the founder of Shopper Sense, a retail-strategy firm in Closter, New Jersey.

Martin Lindstrom, a brand adviser and the author of Brandwashed ($25,

Jill Morton, the executive director of Colorcom, a color-consulting firm in Honolulu.

John Pracejus, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton.

Stefano Puntoni, an associate professor of marketing at Erasmus University, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Alexander Schauss, a senior research director at the AIBMR Life Sciences, in Puyallup, Washington.

Esther Sternberg, the research director at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, in Tucson.


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