True Colors – Breakdown of Color Preferences by Gender

From the day that babies are brought home and cradled in their pink or blue blankets, implications have been made about gender and color. While there are no concrete rules about what colors are exclusively feminine or masculine, there have been studies conducted over the past seven decades that draw some generalizations. Let’s take a look at what they say about color and gender.

Click on the graphic below for an enlarged view:

 

color preferences by gender

View an enlarged version of this infographic »

 

Click here for a .pdf version of this infographic.

 

Key Points

  • Blue is the most popular color for both men and women.
  • The most unpopular color for men is brown.
  • The most unpopular color for women is orange.
  • This data should only be used as an initial starting point if it is going to be used to drive a design. Testing and collecting your own data is the only surefire way to know what colors work best for your audience.

About The Author: Sean Work is the marketing coordinator at KISSmetrics. Read his article suggestion of the day here: Case Study: KISSinsights & KISSmetrics – The 1-2 Punch for Increasing Conversion

  1. Found page interesting (linked from Tweet). Got questionable popup offering Google paper, entered legit email address and got fail msg. Evil spammer (aweber.com) harvesting on your site ?

    • Cindy Alvarez Mar 15, 2011 at 2:28 pm

      Don -
      Nothing sinister; just looks like a misconfiguration error on our part. Email me (calvarez@kissmetrics.com) and I’ll make sure you get our whitepaper.

  2. I’m shocked that no pink came up in any of the graphs. I’m no pink fan, but I’ve heard plenty of women say it’s their favorite color. Where is this part of the infographic?

    • Could be that pink was recorded as a tint of red.

    • Hi KB… I looked at the graph I see that the Pink is there… and yeah it would be tint of red.

      • I understand that, but I’m referring to the circular graphs. If pink is included in the tint of red, then red should absolutely serve as a larger chunk of choice in terms of favorite colors. A true sampling would never have the answer to pink–OR to tints of red including pink–this low, leading me to disregard the entire study.

    • I’ve heard all my life that I’m supposed to like it, as a girl. I don’t. It’s at least a possibility that women might not generally, overwhelmingly like pink.

      • KB, so you’re saying that because your anecdotal data states that the numbers should be different, you’re disregarding the whole study… of actual data.

        Right…

  3. You’re missing a reference – the colour-naming element of this is from Randall Munroes blog at http://blog.xkcd.com/2010/05/03/color-survey-results/

    • Hi Jon:

      The color-naming element from Randall Munroes blog was originally taken from thedoghousediaries.com, a reference to which was included in the infographic.

      • …And as such, it’s entirely fictional, whereas thanks to Randall Munroe’s work, you *could* have put up something more based on data. (But it wouldn’t have been as funny, because aside from green and hot pink, men and women generally name colors similarly.)

  4. I find the last graph hard to believe. It seems like a gross stereotype, and you don’t mention if it was associated with an actual study. Check out this online study for what ought to be a more accurate graph: http://blog.xkcd.com/2010/05/03/color-survey-results/

  5. Problematique Mar 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    The infographic claims that this “goes beyond culture,”… except that, even though there WERE responses from 22 different countries, 80% of them were from the US. Check out the actual study here, the author was actually very disappointed he couldn’t get more of a culturally diverse response:

    http://www.joehallock.com/edu/COM498/index.html

  6. Hey,

    Thanks for sharing! Very interesting!

    FYI: I think the color “seam foam” is suppose to be “sea foam”

  7. Great to know! I was wondering why so many sites are predominantly blue and originally went for bright orange (wanted to be different and read somewhere it is a colour that encourages impulsive actions… (which might be why people don’t like it hhhaha) so we have changed to a more likeable blue.

    Thanks for the tips!

  8. The last section “Men keep it simple” seems to be entirely made up. As mentioned above, it’s from a (sourced) webcomic, and was presumably made up for comedic effect.
    http://www.thedoghousediaries.com/?p=1406

    • Even though it’s a comedic effect, if you think about it, guys really do thing like that.

      • I agree with AJ. I don’t think the last section – “Men keep it simple” – was meant to be taken literally. I think it was merely pointing out that women tend to apply specific labels to different colors, as opposed to men who tend to think of colors in more generic terms.

      • No, that’s just a gender stereotype. This graph is present false (comedic) data as scientific, but it’s a false representation. Many men are actually capable of differentiating and recognising colour. The idea that men are less perceptive, or less intelligent should surely be left in the 1950s by now.

  9. Interesting data and nicely done. I’m so glad you said that it should be used as an initial starting point, that people should collect their own data as well.

    It’s easy to take an infographic like this and draw conclusions, like, “Oh! My website should be blue because I saw a study that said…”

    It’s important to put data like this in context when you plan your branding and marketing.

    • I agree with you 100%! It really ends up being different in every industry. You got to test it out yourself.

    • Kim, I’d love to go unfortunately, it’s crcnuh time at work and I have a lot going on at home too so it doesn’t look too promising. I’ve been many times and I recommend it highly.

  10. Interesting, but the poll was conducted in 2003. Trends can seriously change over the course of 8 years. I see brown making a big comeback, both in web design as well as in more general things like clothing, particularly among men (who claim brown as the least fav color according to this poll)

    • I can see how stuff like that happens. In fact, I just recently read an article on how the color blue has become real popular.

  11. One attribute of color that’s often overlooked is its contribution to perceptions of quality. Manufacturers are often bedeviled by color variations from run to run, or between different factories. Consumers interpret the variation as lower quality. I wonder what the difference in perceptions of quality due to unintended color variations is by gender? Any one know?

  12. Jen in Boston Apr 22, 2011 at 8:54 am

    I wish there were more commentary on whether these preferences can be thought to have any basis in biology, or whether it’s all just cultural.

    Purple is a great color for that discussion. Roll the clock back to the time of the Roman Empire, and you’ll find that Purple was the most masculine color there was. It was the color of the emperor–pretty much reserved only for *his* use! “To wear the purple” meant “to be emperor.”

    More recently, up until the early 1900s in America, little boys were dressed in pink, which was seen as a child’s version of the masculine color red. Little girls wore pastel blue, which was seen as innocent, and related to the Virgin Mary (who still is portrayed in a blue robe, most often).

    • That’s interesting you point that out… I’ve heard of that to and it seems as if the only reason why it happens is just shifts in our cultural society.

  13. Interesting research. Not sure about Bright VS Soft colors

  14. I’d be curious to see how this would come out if people were sorted by sexual preference.

  15. That final section re colour choices male vs female was recently tested on a larger group of people (a few thousand vs 200) and found to be false. The inability of men to differentiate colour is only approximately 2 sections behind that of women, not 40. This makes me think this entire study is probably not worth anything.

    • Nelly:

      I don’t think the infographic was saying that men can’t single out various colors and assign labels to them.

      It’s just saying that women have been traditionally known to think of colors in more specific terms. This isn’t necessarily based on fact – it’s just one of the idiosyncrasies of western culture.

  16. Have you done a study which measures color preference to eye color? Let’s do one!

    Mr Ed

  17. Wow! Well this definitely takes the pink and blue generalization and kicks it right out the window! This could be of great use to those looking into using colors to lure in a specific type of demographic for sure!

  18. Love this infographic. I did a lot of research on colour when choosing the colours for our site. That’s why blue is our main colour ;)

  19. From Wikipedia article on color blindness:
    “About 8 percent of males, but only 0.5 percent of females, are color blind in some way or another, whether it is one color, a color combination, or another mutation.”

    I’m one of those color blind males and can attest to the fact that apparently almost no one doing website design knows anything about those facts.

    This article and its comments reinforce that perception.

    But not my color perception.

  20. It’s a fun read. I have always loved colors and it makes me enjoy more the topic because of it.

  21. Stumble On lead me here. I found this fascinating. I found the section color naming very interesting for two reasons.

    1. Most people don’t realize the men are more likely to have color weakness where cones react with different intensity to the same stimulus. I don’t know of any studies done on color weakness instead of color blindness.

    2. I am not sure how many men actually learn the that red learn and USE maraschino and cayenne. If you gave me the two name I can deduce that they are red but given the two dots to put the names with I would gambling.

  22. It’s just colors.

  23. This really interests me, though. I mean…color. *scratches chin* What is color? I mean, it’s just a bunch of hues thrown together to create..lighter shades of darker pigments. If you think about it, color isn’t even color. Like I said before, it’s just a bunch of hues thrown together to create..lighter shades of darker pigments. If you think about it, color isnt even color..oh wait, i said that. Well, you know how it is. When colors on your mind you get lost in a world of wonder and..color. It gets crazy. I hope you understand now.

  24. Don’t even get me started on gender

  25. A really interesting article. Thanks for sharing. Colour is something I regularly have to convince clients of. All too often they focus on their own personal preference rather than the target audience. I may well be pointing clients to this article in the future!

  26. Male visual (or interior) designers will recognize and use various shades of colors. They have to. It’s part of their job, and even more importantly, specific color names are tied to the hexadecimal naming schemes in Web production.

  27. I liked how they linked the women to the kitchen there, in the color naming section; ‘fruit-related names’. yeah, because since women belong in the kitchen they name everything in reference to food. yeah, good job info graphic people, good job.

  28. Also tweeted this because of how captivating it is. My favorite part was the color naming, as it is so true! Even coming from a graphic designer standpoint, I know it’s mango, but it’s still orange to me…

  29. wheres the pink really

  30. color preferences are greatly impacted by an individuals’ socio econ experience. since the dynamics of socio economic activity have changed greatly since 2003, are there plans to update this info?

  31. I’m having some trouble posting on this website today, so I’ll have another go, and if it turns out to be a double post, please delete one of them.

    Before the 20th Century the color associated with girls was blue, and the color associated with boys was pink/red – a strong virile color….maybe??

    So it’s all a matter of decades of consistent marketing that we think of pink for girls and blue for boys. I’m really old :) and in my childhood the gender/color thing was extremely minor.

    Now you only have to look in any store and in girl’s bedrooms to see how consistent marketing can influence a population – it’s wall to wall pink for girls.

    Some might call this brain washing……

  32. Not that it matters anymore but there’s a typo in the graphic. “Inexpresive” instead of “Inexpensive” in the section header. :)

    Enjoyed the post!

  33. these results might skew my design considerations. Not in the pink I see..

Comments are closed.

← Previous ArticleNext Article →