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Concepts of Color in Four Asian Countries - Luxury Colors Black, gold, and silver are consistently associated with luxury and prestige.

July 03, 2013

Analysts:Maho Hatanaka, INTAGE Inc. / Nobuko Kiuchi, Nippon Color & Design Research Institute Inc.


  • "Black," "Gold," and "Silver" are the top three colors associated with "Luxury" in all four of the countries surveyed (Japan, China, Thailand, and Vietnam). "Bordeaux" and "Burgundy" also rank high in Japan, but not in the other three countries.


1. "Black" is the color most often associated with "Luxury" in every country surveyed.

Figure 1 shows the high-ranking colors in the responses to the question "What color(s) do you think is Luxurious?" in the four countries surveyed in total (Japan, China, Thailand, and Vietnam). The top three colors are "Black," "Gold," and "Silver," in descending order.
People seem to feel stronger associations of "Luxury" with black than with metallic colors suggestive of precious metals such as silver and gold.

[Figure 1] Top 10 colors associated with "Luxury" in the four countries surveyed (MA)

2. In Japan, "Wine" and "Brick Red" also rank high.

Figure 2 shows the colors the Japanese associate with "Luxury." While all four countries give the top rankings to the same three colors, "Gold" ranked first in Japan, followed by "Silver" and then "Black." The Japanese respondents apparently associate metallic colors with luxury more strongly than respondents in the other countries. Warm colors like "Wine" and "Brick Red" also rank high in Japan.

[Figure 2] Top 8 colors the Japanese associate with "Luxury" (MA)

*Sample numbers from the questionnaire color panel are printed directly over the colors.

3. "Formal Type" colors representing "refinement" and "magnificence" are associated with luxury in the results for the four countries in total.

To identify the Color Type that people associate with "Luxury," we classified each color into three luxurious Types on the Color Image Scale* and counted the percentage of people who selected colors classified in each Type. The results are shown in Figure 3. The "Formal Type," which represents a "dignified," "refined," and "magnificent" image, ranks highest in the four countries.

Words closely associated with the three Types representing luxury

Elegant Type
Rose Pink and pinkish colors representing a "tender" and "refined" image
Formal Type
Black, Gold, Silver, White, etc., representing a "tidy & neat," "dignified," and "majestic" image
Classic Type
Wine, Brick Red, etc., representing a "decorative," "traditional," "mellow," and "extravagant" image

* Color Image Scale
This is a scale independently developed by Nippon Color & Design Research Institute Inc. to indicate common feelings people have about specific colors based on accumulated psychological research. In the basic image scales, single colors or color combinations representing words (adjective or adjectival verbs) are mapped out on two coordinate axes (a WARM - COOL axis and SOFT - HARD axis) selected as criteria for judging color images.

[Figure 3] Three Color Types representing "Luxury" (in the four countries surveyed)

*Sample numbers from the questionnaire color panel are printed directly over the colors.

4. "Classic Type" colors representing a traditional and mature image, such as "Bordeaux" and "Burgundy," are associated with "Luxury" in Japan.

Figure 4 shows a percentage breakdown among the three Color Types representing "Luxury" (the "Formal Type," "Classic Type," and "Elegant Type") in each country. In Japan, the percentage of respondents selecting the "Classic Type" is highest, but the "Formal Type" follows closely behind. A much higher percentage of respondents select the "Formal Type" in the other three countries. The colors representing "Luxury" clearly vary by country.

[Figure 4] Percentages of the three Color Types representing "Luxury" by country.

Survey Overview

Survey Method Self-administered questionnaire survey (with a panel of color samples)
Survey Area Japan, China, Thailand, and Vietnam
Respondents Males and females individuals aged 20 to 59
Survey Samples Japanese (Male 44: Female 43), Chinese (Male 40: Female 40), Thai (Male 42: Female 42) and Vietnamese (Male 40: Female 40)
Survey Period January 2013 to April 2013
Organizations Conducting
the Survey
INTAGE Inc. and its overseas subsidiaries

*The survey results were analyzed jointly by INTAGE Inc. and Nippon Color & Design Research Institute Inc.

Asia Insight Report

INTAGE Inc. publishes the "Asia Insight Report" based on spontaneous surveys conducted in the Asian region in collaboration with overseas INTAGE subsidiaries to identify trends in attitudes and behavior on various themes.
Part 1 of the Report, "Color Image Survey in Four Asian Countries - Luxurious Image," was analyzed jointly with Nippon Color & Design Research Institute Inc. The survey was conducted in Japan, China, Thailand, and Vietnam from January 2013 to April 2013. About 80 males and females (aged from 20 to 59) in each country were asked to fill out a self-administered survey questionnaire using a panel of color samples. The survey results follow below.

Nippon Color & Design Research Institute Inc.

Nippon Color & Design Research Institute Inc. (Head Office: Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo; Date of Establishment: January 20, 1967; President: Naoki Miyaoka) provides information based on psychological research on color designs and consumer tastes to many corporations and organizations in various industries (manufacturing, retail distribution, advertisement, construction, etc.), as well as the public sector. The company's independently developed "Hue & Tone" system and "Color Image Scale" are widely used in various fields for color planning, marketing, and color design strategies.

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