The symbolism of colors in China

According to the countries, the colors have a different symbolism.  There is a gap between the West and China concerning the colors’ code.

This article will try to explain you the colors’ symbolism in China.

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Why taking an interest in colors in marketing?

Colors on the packaging have in impact on the appetite, the consumer behavior and their expectations.  Each person reacts deliberately or unintentionally on colors that they see. There are different psychological, sexual, social or professional behaviors according to each color.

In the US, there are institutes that are the best in term of marketing. For example, there is the Color Research Institute (in Chicago) that analyzes the consumers and sells its researches. In China, there is not this type of institutes.

Positive colors

Red: 红色

Red represents the happiness. In China, we can see the red everywhere: on the brands, packaging or advertisement. It is not for nothing, the red has a strong positive connotation in China. Why? We could think that it is the flag’s color or the communism, but it is absolutely not the case.

In ancient China, there was an animal called Nian, which devoured a large number of people during the spring of each year. This animal was afraid of the red and each person was smart not to be devoured. Thus, all Chinese people used to decorate their houses in red for the New Year. Now, red became the color of happiness and luck.

Golden: 金色

The golden color is also a famous color in China. This color can be associated with the gold and thus the fortune. We can find this color on the luxurious monuments or on the gifts we offer. The golden color is often associated with the red for the Chinese gifts. Also, this color is used to describe the brand name on the labels.

Purple: 紫色

Purple has a strong symbolism in China. Indeed, it represents the wisdom. This symbolism comes from the Emperor period when the king’s advisors were dressed in purple. This color is also a power color.

Purple is a beautiful color and lots of Chinese people (specially women) dream about Provence landscapes which are purple.

Negative colors

Green: 绿色

Green doesn’t have a great connotation in China, why?

Chinese people think that people who are in a bad mood have a green head. Having a green head means being nervous. Green also means being unfaithful to his husband. Generally, this term is used for women, who have extra conjugal stories.

Yellow: 黄色

Yellow is the color of sex, eroticism and pornography. Everybody knows the expression sense. Chine is not well seen in China and few packaging is yellow.

Here, to illustrate my words, there is the screenshot of the request Huangse on Baidu.

Black: 黑色

Black is the death color. Chinese people can wear black clothes but it is globally used for the labels, the packaging and especially for the gifts. It is not recommended to use the black color. We do not see the black color in the supermarkets in China.

Blue: 蓝色

Blue is a masculine color. It does not have especially positive or negative connotation.

Nevertheless, a certain blue is told to be childish. Why? Because children use to wear this blue to go to school.

Also, the blue with vertical stripes is the color of crazy Chinese. So, it is better to avoid to put blue stripes on the products

Pink: 粉色

Pink is a feminine color, the color of love. There are a lot of beauty products, body treatments, makeup which use this color to attract the consumers.

Be careful, many brands of prostitution places use the pink.

White: 白色

White is purity. Chinese like this color and white is often used in the advertising for cleanliness and aesthetics.

Chinese women like having a white skin. Be careful not to associate white and black which are colors that represent death.

It is obvious that each person has its own code of colors and interpretations.

To conclude, you can see the following board that represents the different colors chosen for the big brands.

Marketing China

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