Influence of colour on the consumer behaviour of Generation Y students in the Vaal Triangle
Colour influences the human mind and body through physical as well as psychological reactions to specific colours. These reactions are conditioned by previous experiences leading to certain preferences, associations and perceptions regarding certain colours. There are various aspects within a firm where colour may be utilised to the benefit of its marketing efforts. Marketers must realise that colour may be very influential and it is important to pay close attention to the associations and preferences of the firm’s target market(s) the influence of colour on human perceptions has been widely studied in many research fields. Most marketers recognise the importance of colour within the marketing environment (Section 1.1). Colour has different meanings for different people and these differences need to be acknowledged to ensure success in marketing efforts. If colour is used strategically within the marketing mix (product, place and promotion) of a firm, it may influence consumers positively (Section 1.2). This study endeavoured to determine the colour preferences, associations and perceptions of Generation Y students in South Africa. The findings of this study will be of value to those marketers who target this cohort and may utilised by them to use colour more effectively within their marketing mix. The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of colour on the consumer behaviour of Generation Y students in the South African market. The research study investigated the following aspects: • The colour preferences of Generation Y students. • Emotions Generation Y students associate with different colours. • How Generation Y students perceive various colours. • Product colour and product packaging colour preferences of Generation Y students. • Consumer behaviour patterns of Generation Y students regarding specified products. For this study, the target population comprised of Generation Y students registered at South Africa’s public higher education institutions (HEIs). The sampling frame consisted of a list of South Africa’s 23 public HEIs, as stipulated by the Department of Higher Education and Training (2011). This study made use of a non-probability convenience sample of two HEI campuses located in the Vaal Triangle region of South Africa’s Gauteng province that was drawn from the sampling frame. Thereafter, a convenience sample of 500 under-graduate students was drawn from these HEI campuses - 250 students per campus. A structure self-administered questionnaire was distributed to the respondents. The questionnaire requested respondents to rank colours according to preferences, on a four- and seven-point Likert scales were used respectively to determine colour associations and perceptions. The questionnaire also contained questions using a four-point Likert scale designed to determine product colour and product-package colour preferences as well as questions designed to determine consumer behaviour patterns of Generation Y students regarding certain products. In addition, the respondents were asked to provide certain demographic data. The findings indicate that Generation Y students have distinctive colour preferences, associations and perceptions. The respondents also indicated a number of notable product and product package preferences as well as particular consumer behaviour traits. When comparing male and female respondents as well as black and white respondents respectively, the results depicted various statistical significant differences (p < 0.05). Cohen’s D statistic was computed to determine the level of practical significance of these differences. From this, it is evident that colour do influence Generation Y students’ consumer behaviour and perceptions to some extent. Colour is present in every aspect of marketing. If used strategically, colour may be used by marketers to influence their target market’s perceptions and preferences. The findings emanating from this study should be used as a guideline to incorporate colour into the design of the marketing mix (colour) in such a way as to appeal to Generation Y students.