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MAR

Colours and Cultures

Posted by Sarthak Sharma on March 23, 2017
Colours and Cultures

In the last few decades, Canada's immigration policy has altered the ethnic makeup of the country. We have become home to various cultures and customs from around the world.

In addition to diverse cultures, we are also witnessing an influx of new consumers who have different behavioural traits, attitudes, and product and media consumption habits. This means a 'one size fits all' communication strategy will quickly become ineffective for marketers in the coming future.

The first step to approaching an ethnic segment is to develop a deep understanding of their culture and how they perceive things differently, compared to the mainstream Canadian consumer.

Understanding the nuances of each culture is important. For instance, every country and culture attaches symbolic values to different colours. It is also important to observe that religion is an important part of culture and every religion has their own colour associations. 

In coming years, it will become essential for brands to have such understanding of different cultures and the possible impact on consumer perceptions. An inappropriate use of colour can be perceived as offensive for certain communities. When marketing to a specific ethnic group, the approach needs to be cautious to avert any marketing disasters which can impact the image of the brand across the world. A better understanding of colour associations in different cultures becomes vital in order to both maximize the impact of the campaign and avoid disasters. With consumers associating specific colours or colour combinations with meanings, marketers can use that learning to best fit their communication strategy.

If the meaning associated with a colour is different across cultures, it is beneficial to pursue a customized strategy. In contrast, when the meanings are similar across markets, a standardized strategy is more viable.

To explain this better, we will talk about the symbolism of colours in the 2 fastest growing ethnic groups in Canada - South Asian and Chinese communities.

Red

WESTERN WORLD

INDIA

CHINA

Energy

Excitement

Action

Danger

Love

Passion

A warning to stop

Anger

Christmas (in combination with green)

Valentine's Day

 

Purity

Fertility

Love

Beauty

Wealth

Opulence

Power

Used in wedding ceremonies

A sign of a married woman

Fear

Fire

Good luck

Celebration 

Vitality

Happiness

Long life

Used as a wedding colour

Used in many ceremonies from funerals to weddings

Used for festive occasions

Traditionally worn on Chinese New Year to bring luck and prosperity

 

Green

WESTERN WORLD

INDIA

CHINA

Lucky colour in most western cultures

Spring, new birth, and regeneration

Nature and environmental awareness 

'Go' at traffic lights

Saint Patrick's Day 

Christmas (in combination with red)

Jealousy

Greed

 

The colour of Islam

Hope

New beginnings

Harvest

Virtue

 

 

 

 

New life

Regeneration

Hope

Fertility

Disgrace - giving a Chinese man a green hat indicates his wife is cheating on him

Exorcism

Studies show it is generally not good for packaging

 

Blue

WESTERN WORLD

INDIA

CHINA

Trust

Authority

Conservative

Corporate

Peace and calm

Depression

Sadness

"Something blue" bridal tradition

Masculinity

Lord Krishna– love, divine joy

National sports colour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Immortality

Associated with pornography and 'blue films'

Feminine colour

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black

WESTERN WORLD

INDIA

CHINA

Power

Control

Intimidation

Funerals, death, mourning

Rebellion

 

 

Evil, negativity, darkness

Lack of appeal

Anger

Apathy

Used to ward off evil

 

 

Destruction

Evil

Profundity

Disasters

Cruelty

Sadness

Suffering 

At BTI we emphasize understanding the cultural nitty gritty's to develop meaningful and relevant campaigns. Contact us if you want to add colours to your campaign. 

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