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When does green make you greedy or go green? The influence of green color primes on consumers’ promotion preferences

Michael J. Barone, PhD K. Winterich
Customer Needs and Solutions. March 1, 2016

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Customer Needs and Solutions, 3 (1), 3-10


Drawing upon associational priming models, we examine the influence exerted by incidental exposure to the color green on consumers’ promotional preferences. Green color primes are theorized to activate self-related associations, increasing preferences for discount promotions (which benefit the consumer through price savings) versus donation promotions (which benefit others by generating charitable contributions). Results from three studies support this ability of green color primes to influence consumer preferences for discount promotions by systematically altering the salience of self- versus other-related cognitions. Our results also introduce contingencies into this influence of green color primes that are consistent with the potential for green to increase the salience of sustainability-related associations. Specifically, the influence of green color primes on promotional preferences was eliminated for individuals who hold strong environmental (or green) consumption values as well as when an environmental charity was featured as part of the donation promotion. Theoretically, this research significantly contributes to our understanding of the non-conscious influence exerted by green color primes on consumption decisions. Because marketers have full control over the background colors they employ in developing promotional materials, these findings also hold important implications for firms seeking to maximize purchase rates associated with their promotional strategies.

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