2. Theoretical Foundation
3. Development of Research Hypotheses
List of figures
Diagram 1 Adaptation of Donovan and Rossiter’s model (1983)
In a world with a growing amount of surrounding stimuli, getting the attention of consumers is an increasingly demanding task for the marketers. Therefore, the usage of colors, lighting and other environmental stimuli finds great acceptance in advertising campaigns.1 But in retail situations the exploitation of color effects is until now almost solely limited to packaging etc.2 One disregarded application area is price tags, being an important component of purchase decisions. The purpose of the paper is to fill this gap with empirical evidence.
The study at hand focuses on font color of price tags as an environmental stimulus influencing the pleasure and arousal level of the respondents and finally their purchase intention. The a priori assumption is that warm (yellow) and cool (blue) colors should elicit different reactions.
2. Theoretical Foundation
Various studies analyze the effect of color on human behavior, focusing on comparing the two extremes of the color range: warm colors, like red, yellow and orange and cool ones, like violet, green and blue. The results generally suggest that cool colors are connected with positive effects on retail outcomes, whereas warm colors are associated rather with negative ones.3
According to the literature color effects can be classified into two categories, physiological and psychological ones. Concerning physiological effects several studies show that warm colors (red and yellow) produce increased blood pressure4 as well as greater hand tremor5 and serve to draw attention6, whereas cool colors generate exactly the opposite biological reactions.7 These physiological effects are directly linked with psychological ones. Thus, warm colors are ascribed to lead to elated mood states8 and arousal9. The feeling of pressure and tension causes inaccurate judgments of size and weight.10 On the contrary, cool colors are connected with attributes such as calm, peaceful and secure.11 They even evoke feelings like happiness and love12 and lead to purchases of high-quality products13. The impact of pleasure and arousal on the consumers’ willingness to buy does not only exist for colors, but also for other atmospheric elements (e.g. friendliness of sales staff).14
Among the mainly general studies a few focus on the field of retailing in order to gain specific insights on how color influences shopping behavior. A good example is a research by Bellizzi and Hite on the effects of blue and red retail displays on consumers’ behavior. Consisting of two experiments, the study examines possible feeling states stimulated by color and measures the consumers’ behavior and behavior-intentions.15 Particularly, they come to the result that blue environments have more positive outcomes. Hence, blue environments lead to more stimulated purchases, fewer purchase postponements and a stronger tendency to shop and browse within the store. A further explanation of the outcome reveals a higher responsibility of the affective perception of color rather than arousal.16 According to these findings Bellizzi and Hite evaluate blue colored environments as more appropriate to create the desired atmosphere in terms of having positive effects from the marketers’ point of view.17
Babin, Hardesty and Suter come to similar results in their study on “The intervening effect of price fairness and perceived affect”, which analyzes the importance of store color for the patronage behavior. For fashion-oriented stores they conclude that blue interiors are associated with greater excitement and higher store patronage and purchase intentions.18 Consequently, blue is described as a “safe” color scheme, which leads to hardly any negative reactions. Additionally, they point out that for other less favorable colors like orange the interplay with other atmospheric elements (e.g. lighting or music) may also lead to positive effects.19
In order to give a more thorough overview on the existing studies and their outcomes, also the following research, which is based on a different classification of colors, has to be mentioned. Considering colors in the spectrum of visible wavelengths, colors at the endings like red and violet are supposed to be more stimulating and attention-drawing than colors in-between like yellow and blue. In the middle of this U-shaped function, which relates the level of arousal to the wavelength, green is supposed to be the neutral color.20
In the study at hand all these findings are used in order to analyze if the manipulation of price tag font colors leads to similar results.
1 Cf. Hoyer (2010), pp. 69-89.
2 Cf. Bellizzi and Hite (1992), p. 349.
3 Cf. Bellizzi, Crowley and Hasty (1983), pp. 39 et seq; Bellizzi and Hite (1992), p. 347; Babin, Hardesty and Suter (2003), p. 550; Elliot, Moller, Friedman and Meinhardt (2007), p.166.
4 Cf. Gerard (1957).
5 Cf. Nakshian (1964).
6 Cf. Bellizzi, Crowley and Hasty (1983), p. 41.
7 Cf. Gerard (1957).
8 Cf. Schaie and Heiss (1964).
9 Cf. Cahoon (1964).
10 Cf. Goldstein (1939).
11 Cf. Sharpe (1974).
12 Cf. Burris-Meyer(1940).
13 Cf. Middlestadt (1990), p. 248.
14 Cf. Baker, Grewal and Levy (1992), pp. 445 et seq.
15 Cf. Bellizzi and Hite (1992), p. 350.
16 Cf. Bellizzi and Hite (1992), p. 347.
17 Cf. Bellizzi and Hite (1992), p. 359-361.
18 Cf. Babin, Hardesty and Suter (2003), p. 541.
19 Cf. Babin, Hardesty and Suter (2003), p. 550.
20 Cf. Wilson (1966), pp. 947-949.