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Monday, Aug. 27, 2007 at 12:02 pm

Do Girls Really Prefer Pink?

By Holly Buchanan
August 27th, 2007

pink_bubbles.jpgThere’s a pervading theory in marketing that all women love the color pink. While some women and certainly many younger girls do seem to like the color pink, I’ve found many women and girls don’t like the color pink.

What’s really going on here? I believe the color pink evokes some very strong associations; some positive, some negative, depending on your viewpoint. Many advertisers or product developers get lazy and think “We need to appeal to women, so let’s just take our existing product and make it pink.” But what women really want are products developed to meet their specific needs.

A recent report came out on a study by Dr. Anya C. Hurlbert, a professor of visual neuroscience at Newcastle University in England, which concludes that women really do prefer pink. I wanted to delve into the specifics to see if this was really the case but (thank goodness) Chris at Mixing Memory did the hard work for me.

Chris had this to say about the data:

Suffice it to say that this result doesn’t tell us anything about why girls like pink. In fact, since, at least in western culture, the traditional gender-color associations are blue for boys and pink for girls, the fact that the western (British) girls prefer blue more than the western boys (and, in fact, show a stronger preference for blue over yellow than red over green) in the Hulbert and Ling study implies that, biologically, either blue should be for girls, or there should be no gender-based association with blue. Furthermore, the British women don’t show any preference on the red-green dimension! You’d think, if they had an evolved preference for pinkish colors, they’d actually show such a preference, but they don’t. Then there’s the cross-cultural differences for men. It’s as though the British men are saying, “Ewww, reddish colors are for giiiiiiirls,” and picking the greens, while the Chinese men just don’t care on that dimension, because they don’t associate red with girlishness. In other words, it’s almost as though there were cultural factors at play!

Before you go running off like Chicken Little, proclaiming “Girls really do prefer pink!” read the full post, “Do Women Have an Evolved Preference for Pink? at Mixing Memory.

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Comments (14)

  1. I once saw something on TV that said color identities were once switched…boys worn pink, not blue. I did a quick Google search and found some evidence backing this theory up. http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=238733

    From an offline and personal perspective, I am a mom of a boy and girl, and while boy’s clothes can be found in any color in pretty much equal ratios, girl’s clothing is almost exclusively pink. Pink clothes are OK, but when mom’s like me prefer to not dress their girl’s in pink, there are relatively few options. A few stores like Gymboree have figured this out and I can find things there, but the other stores are missing out (and being lazy as you say) because they are assuming that every mom only wants to buy pink clothes for their daughters.

  2. As another mother of both a boy and girl, I find my son to be easy & open with his color choices (including a pink button-down shirt on occasions), but my daughter, who’s strong & independent, has very strong anti-color choices: no pink clothes or accessories… Pink seems to bother her, as if she will be too much of a girly-girl if she wears it. Its not that she doesn’t like the color itself–it’s the frilly/feminine/weaker gender association that goes with it.

  3. from my interaction with ladies i’ve always confirmed that they’re pink color lovers. it’s interesting to know that not all girls love the color pink

  4. My 7-year-old daughter (admittedly, a tomboy) and I do not like pink. I think partly it is the connotation of being a girly-girl, but it’s also boring and unimaginative to be in a sea of pink all the time. We even say that the girl’s toy aisle is the pink aisle and we rarely venture down there. Frankly, we are tired of going to any store and finding nothing but pinks and purples. We often will go over to the boys side to get some different colors. Thankfully, Lands End and L.L. Bean will have more basics and classics that do not shove gender down your throat.

  5. I recently read the book “Color: The Secret Influence” by Kenneth and Cherie Fehrmen and they referenced some interesting studies on pink. They said that pink has a calming effect when exposed to for 15 minutes, but after 15 minutes it tends to make people highly irritable. In the study, holding cells at jails were painted pink and when prisoners were transfered to their cells there were actually less fights. They tried keeping prisoners in pink cells longer and found that the color lost its calming effect and fights skyrocketed. The book also references cultural influence on color preference regarding pink. They largely point to the fact that girls are taught to like pink from cultural clues at a young age.

  6. I still like pink…

    So, just after the post about color yesterday, I see a post on GrokDotCom titled Do Girls Really Prefer Pink? Good timing. Let’s explore color further. People do tend to assume that women universally prefer pink. Is this true? Studies…

  7. Have you been in a US toy store lately? May I warn you that you will need a large dose of insulin before traversing the aisles with “girls” toys? Bubble-gum pink, and Barbie purple is everywhere. Have you tried to purchase girls clothes? Finding something other than pink and purple is a chore. Have you seen a 20-30-40 something father have a fit if his son is playing with something pink, or has a pink shirt on? I wouldn’t want to remove pink from the spectrum, but I certainly do not wear it, and don’t decorate my home with it, other than as an accent. My daughter-in-law HATES pink. After taking a granddaughter for her first real shopping trip before kindergarten, when we got home she asked “What’s with this pink, anyway?” And how about the well designed study that found that some shades of pink are soothing to aggressive males, and prisons would do well to use liberal doses of it? That study is at least 25 years old. The Filipinos have the right of it – dress male prisioners in pink and let them work off their aggressions in something positive – like dancing! The only thing this study showed is that the authors can’t separate acculturation from fact.

  8. Man pink is the new color 4 gurlz i see….I mean no matta where u turn u see at least on gurl wearin pink and sum boyz are even wearin pink in the US. I think dat sum boys are luvin the color pink now but no to b gay or anything but I am seein alot of boys wear pink shirts n sneakers if they can find them n they seem to not have a problem wit it. I think dat sum boys tend to b aggresive wit the color pink bcuz they think its a gay color and any boy who wears it iz a fag or sumtin…..I dnt think dat iz true i think pink is a color jus like any otha so boys shuldnt judge otha boys if they are wearin pink if they dnt kno the boy. I think that pink is a gud color 4 boys to wear bcuz it looks gud on sum boys….but if a boi has sumtin bad to sai about anotha boy who iz wearin pink then they’re jus mad bcuz either they dnt luk as gud in the color,the boi is baggin more gurls in the color…or they jus think dat pink is a gurl color and there is no such thing as a gurl color. Boys have the rite to wear wateva color they want and sum boys wear the color pink bcuz it is the style now in days. I mean here in the US u can find alot of boys wearin the color pink and walk aroun baggin gurls like it aint nuttin…n i aint hattin i am happie 4 them bcuz they aint afriad to wear a color that sum think onlii gurls can wear so I admire any boi who aint afriad to wear the color pink

  9. I am a 58 year old woman and never in my life have I liked pink. My fave colors are blue and brown and burgandy.

  10. I am a girl and i also like pink but not as keenly as that would be my most favorite color. Color selection depends on one’s personality and mood. I use to wear pink dress if i am in a nice mood and want relaxation. Pink reflects soberness. That’s what i think about pink color. Everyone’s perceptions are different according to their personalities and feels.
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  11. I am a girl.And I like pink,orange,green and blue.It is hard to tell the reason why the above colors are my favourite.But I think it is related with my characters which will also be affected by the family and environment.

  12. Am a girl..I love pink..But lite ones…But also have a passion towards other dark colors…
    Also have a doubt that what is the real reason behind girls loving pink colors?

  13. I’m an 8 year old girl, i’m a tomboy. I HATE pink, i can’t stand it. I hate it when people say that ALL girls love pink, because there are quite a few tomboys out there, or people who just find the colour pink…. anoyying.

    Yeah, I really hate pink and i’m a girl, well tomboy. Whatever.

  14. Well you might hate pink, but this isn’t about individuals but percentages.

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Holly Buchanan is a marketing to women consultant specializing in marketing to women online. You can read her blog at http://marketingtowomenonline.typepad.com She is the co-author, along with Michele Miller of The Soccer Mom Myth - Today's Female Consumer - Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys.

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