The halo effect of product Color lightness on hedonic food consumption

Adriana V. Madzharov, Suresh Ramanathan, Lauren G. Block

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (SciVal)


The authors present evidence that light-colored hedonic foods, that is, foods generally considered to be vices and relatively unhealthy, are consumed in greater quantity than the same foods that are darker in color. Greater consumption was demonstrated for lighter-colored chocolate candies and pudding (vs. darker) across a variety of colors. This halo effect of color lightness arises for vice foods because they are consumed for the hedonic experience itself; indeed, the present results indicated that greater consumption was driven by an increased pleasurable experience in the form of a more favorable in-the-moment emotional response and higher taste evaluations. By contrast, the halo effect of color lightness was attenuated for healthy, often called virtue, foods that are consumed for more utilitarian consequences. Findings have practical implications for consumer welfare by contributing to an understanding of what may drive overconsumption of high-calorie foods and for marketers interested in encouraging responsible consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-591
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Association for Consumer Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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