BLUE NOTES

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Americans are stuck on the blues. And it's not because people are all down in the dumps.

Blue continues to be the most popular color among Americans age 13 and older, according to a nationally representative online survey of 1,040 respondents conducted by BuzzBack Market Research, in partnership with Pantone, Inc., and released in October 2003. A comparison of these recent findings with an earlier American Demographics/BuzzBack survey conducted in 2001 shows that the share of those who consider blue their favorite color held steady at 41 percent.

Our tendency to gravitate toward blue reflects not only the color's longevity, but also its ability to appeal to a wide range of tastes. It's associated most with trustworthiness and high quality. Many consider the most popular blue, “palace blue,� enduring, yet contemporary. Blue's versatility means that in brighter shades, it has a more fashionable feel. Some of the brighter tones that are growing in popularity are reminiscent of the blues in LED readouts. They convey a futuristic and high-tech feeling. Deeper hues may project a more traditional look. On the softer side, blue can be calming. “It really can satisfy a lot of different emotions and needs,� says Lisa Herbert, executive vice president of Pantone Inc., developer of PANTONE Color Systems.

And that may be just what the doctor ordered given the prevailing zeitgeist. With tales of high-level corporate irresponsibility, securities fraud and the numbers of white-collar unemployed packing the news, no wonder Americans are turning to colors to brighten their future. “When things are serious in life and the world,� explains Herbert, “we all look for something on the lighter side. We're all looking for a little more fun.�

Based on the survey, the overall color outlook is bright. Respondents generally identify with more uplifting, brighter colors. After blue, the second most popular color is a fiery red. According to Herbert, the greater acceptance of red is an extension of the feelings of passion, emotion and heritage first evoked after 9/11 when the patriotic colors became more popular.

In America, some people give more weight to color when making a purchase than the average consumer. Hispanics are more concerned with color when purchasing kitchen appliances and personal computers. And when it comes to food, Hispanics are far more adventuresome. Close to 1 in 3 (32 percent) says they are very or extremely likely to consider trying a traditional food introduced in a new color, such as purple ketchup or blue/pink margarine. Only 1 in 5 (20 percent) non-Hispanics surveyed feels the same.

Consumers always want to pick the perfect color for their home furnishings. According to the survey, people say that the color of their small or large appliances matters when they're making a spending decision. A majority of respondents (65 percent) say that it is extremely or very important to be able to buy large appliances for the kitchen, including stoves and refrigerators in the color they want. And nearly half (45 percent) said the same of small kitchen appliances, such as toasters and coffee makers. Some companies that are ahead of the curve have displayed a willingness to inject some color into their otherwise traditional product lines. Kitchenaid, for example, now offers stand mixers in 10 hues, including tangerine, wasabi and grape. It's a long way from the days when kitchen appliances were all white.


For more information about the surveys, visit www.buzzback.com.

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