How Colours Affect Our Consumer Behaviour

The psychology of colours is a significant aspect in consumer behaviour and branding process.
colours as a strategic tool in consumer marketing

Consumers respond to colours. First of all, consumer behaviour is an all-inclusive factor in the presentation of your product or service to the market. Or also to grow your business in our consumer society. Colour psychology in Consumer behaviour is, generally, a challenging and positive study that should bring you the experiences and the perception of your clients or prospective clients. Incidentally, perceiving consumer behavioural and evaluating it towards your product or service is essential to your brand.


The American Psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote in 1943 his motivational theory ‘The Hierarchy of Needs’ where humans are compared to an animal in need who is rarely completely satisfied except for a short period of time and once his wishes are fulfilled, he attends to another desire. In fact, his theory is extremely useful for marketing managers as they insight into the motives of consumers to guarantee that their products reach the needs of their target market.

We admit, however, that several variables, internal and external impact on consumer behaviour. It is a mental, emotional and physical activity. The process involves choosing, buying, using and discarding products and services that either satisfy their needs and demands or frustrate them. Consumer satisfaction, though, is a function of quality, price, advertisements and the way the products are presented, i.e. packing, colours, literature, website demos, staff skills, et cetera to meet the customers demand.

Scholarly and academic papers have demonstrated that colours affect customers. Scholars go from the selection of fresh vegetables to coffee drinking, to restaurant eating, gardening, books covers selection, clothes and so on. Colours and their associations are everywhere.


Many variables are partly controlled by the seller, such as price, quality, delivery time, promotions, and others. Those variables could become not personal. So, it is important that the sellers realise that their products are suited to the market goal based on personal factors.

One of the factors having a profound effect on consumer behaviour is the colour of the product which they intend to buy. In other words, colour commands a consumer’s perception of a product or service according to the emotion that they connect with that colour. Don’t we use this in our choice of colours for our cars? The bright iconic red of Ferrari, or the superb brilliant yellow of Lamborghini, or the ultimate Wimbledon white of the Mustang. Uhmmm… perhaps colours have a role in consumer’s identity factors.

Usually, what people perceive from colours is based on the relationships between that colour and its associated meaning. For instance, do you feel calm when surrounded by blue skies and green fields? Or frightened by a red signal? Colour psychology is, therefore, a determinant of human behaviour and is used by brands to induce different responses.  


By the way, there is a great article by Gregory Ciotti on The Psychology of Colour in Marketing and Branding, really worth reading. He goes through how colour affects our spending showing a beautiful guide on colour emotions that I reproduce below.


Therefore, if you are planning an office redesign, advertising or developing your brand, do not forget the wise use of colours, after all, according to research by Shortstack, 84.7% of consumers affirm that colour is a primary reason for them to buy a product and 93% look at visual appearance when they buy. Staggering numbers for us to just forget and buy the colours that are on sale!


Consumers notice colour before words. So, if you are thinking of advertising, promotions or a brand new branding development then remember that colours influence consumer feelings about your product or service and have the same power in generating sales as any well-written slogan.

  • Colours change moods and attitudes – For example, do you want your customers to feel serene and clean? Then use blue. Do you need to emphasise clarity and purity? Well, choose blue and white. To summarise, the emotion the colour generates will be associated with the emotions the consumer feels toward your product and hopefully will be extended to a purchase experience.
  • Colours grab consumers attention because of the specific association we have with colours. For instance, red is one of the most vibrant colours in the visible spectrum. It invariably attracts the consumer eyes because of the numerous association we have with that colour, including the presents from Santa Claus!
  • Colours appeal to your customers – they play with their desires and wants. Do you live in an urban marketplace? Maybe blue, green and white will offer you the expansiveness and closeness with nature that you desire.
  • Colours show product characteristics to attract the target customer base. Do your product emphasises elegance, mystery and power? Then use black.


The primary colours are red, yellow and blue and the secondary colours are orange, green and purple. With them we create warm and cool colours; tints, shades and tones and beautiful colour harmonies to set a mood, attract attention or make a statement.


psychology of colours graphic
reapropriation of a graphic from Aghdaie & Honary June 2014

Generally, choosing the perfect colours scheme is still a difficult thing to do even with all the skills we have developed. Subsequently, the impact of different colours in shopping behaviour, especially regarding time pressure and willingness are still been scrutinised. But it is known that the colour of the product the person is willing to buy has a profound effect on the shopping experience. So, if colours are combined with attractive price and excellent quality we should have an invincible tactic to lead to a shopping decision according to the customer’s needs and desires.


As we have seen, colour is thus an essential tool with an incredible impact on marketing. In conclusion, it is essential to understand what colours mean to your customers in practical ways and in emotional subjective. We don’t all react the same way to colours and, in particular, the significant events, cultures, people and memories we have accumulated will influence our decisions. Consequently, test your colours to see which ones make people click into your content more frequently. Testing is extremely important. Without it, you will not know how your audience will respond and with the testing results, you will be able to determine colour combinations and placement to generate better positive results.


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Cidinha Moss

Cidinha Moss

Cidinha Moss is the founder of Moss51 Art & Design, a graphic and web design studio that thrives on building usable and aesthetically pleasing websites and brand images. Cidinha is a dog lover who happens to have adventures in painting, ceramics and marketing. She brings decades of experience to her current role, where she is dedicated to creating communication that connects. You can find her on Facebook or LinkedIn

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