How does colour affect the consumer?

How does colour affect consumer behaviour? If shopping is the ‘art of persuasion’, can colour influence how consumers will respond to products and special offers?

We know that different colours have a psychological impact on consumers. Whilst this impact may be subtle, it’s definitely worth thinking about.

vector-t-shirt-design-templates-in-various-colors_zyMay1v_Colour has a significant impact on how a brand is perceived. Our brains like ‘recognisable brands’ and colour is very important in creating a brand identity. Colour can also help to differentiate a new brand from more well established competitors. Here are a few statistics, from different pieces of research, to think about:

Colour increases brand recognition by up to 80%. (It does more than this – it also helps to reflect a personality, or ‘brand image’ for an organisation).

85% of customers identified ‘colour’ as a primary reason why they buy a specific product.

Up to 90% of snap judgements can be based on colour alone.

FashionWomanIn fashion, customers expect to see that season’s colours in the window – the colours that are ‘on trend’. This helps draw them into the shop. However, once inside and when it comes to their purchasing decision, they often reject the more ‘fashionable’ colours in favour of ones they feel ‘safe’ with, such as black or navy blue.

But what of individual colours?

Red is often thought of as a ‘buying’ colour and is a definite attention getter. When used in small amounts, it can be the best colour to stimulate sales and the most successful at converting interest into sales. However, if used in large amounts, it can turn off the more subtle customers. So red is perhaps best used to draw attention to a specific message you want the customer to focus on.

Whilst yellow and orange are both good for grabbing attention, they should be used sparingly. Orange is sometimes associated with affordability. And whilst a combination of red and yellow on special offers may grab attention, they can also come across as cheap and nasty.

Blue generates a feeling of trust, (which is why it’s popular with banks and financial institutions), so is more appropriate for non-impulse buys, although some blues can be seen as ‘dull’ and ‘corporate’.

Some luxury products use neutrals, and neutrals like black or white can enhance primary colours when used as an accent. But when used exclusively, they can give off an institutionalised or sterile feeling. Black and white can be used very effectively though – take a look at Apple’s iphone box, which is associated with luxury and power, and First Direct bank.

shutterstock_88265581Does gender make a difference? Interestingly, one piece of research found that men had a perception that they were making greater savings when the prices were in red. Women, however, had a tendency to read the detail of the offering. It also changes with age, with children attracted to the more vibrant colours such as pink, yellow and orange.

And if you sell online it’s definitely worth analysing your conversion rates for different colours. Even a subtle change can have a big influence.

But it is not universal. Colours that influence in the UK or Europe are different from those in India or China, for example.  Whilst white is a neutral colour in Europe and the US, associated with purity, in countries such as China it is associated with death and mourning.

So is there such a thing as the ‘right’ colour when trying to predict consumer reaction? The answer is no. The colour needs to be appropriate to the product that is being promoted, and the consumer being targeted. Understanding this is the key to getting it right.

The impact of colour on the consumer is a huge and fascinating topic, which we’ve just begun to explore in this blog. We may return to it again in the future. In the meantime, take a look at some of our blogs on individual colours and what they mean.

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Comments (2)

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    Vishaka Karnad


    Colour is very much a state of the mind both influencing how one feels and reflecting what one feels leading feelings to emotions to thoughts to actions and back. Colour is to fashion as raga is to music…..


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    I found this article very informative. As a relative layman I tend to look to tangible explanations about the way we respond to colours. I recently heard that the human brain is stimulated by blue rich light which just happens to be most prevalent in the morning. We find warmer colours relaxing as we are conditioned to sleep after sunset. The researchers reporting this were looking at the effect of the use of mobile screens when used at bedtime on the user’s sleep. I imagine this phenomenon of blue rich light “excitement” to be global.


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