How to Use Colours to Improve Consumer Behaviour

How we use colours in marketing is one of the most critical aspects of brand building. When colour psychology is used correctly, it can elicit the emotions needed to trigger purchasing decisions and influence customer behaviour — the perception of colours in consumer behaviour.
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    Consumers respond to colours. The emotion they associate with the colour of the product or service is a significant factor in their buying decision process.  Human beings look for what is easily recognisable and familiar to their minds to evoke emotional reactions.

    Recognising this impact is crucial to knowing how to use colours to improve consumer behaviour correctly. The connections and emotions formed in the minds of your customers will determine their reactions to your product or brand.

    Most snap judgements on consumer products are based on colour. Most times, buying a product is based on whether the client believes its colour is appropriate for it. Think of smartphone colours, for instance. Colour is a significant consideration when purchasing these mobile gadgets as they are not only useful tools but a fashionable accessories. 

    What is the psychology of colours?

    The study of the effect colours have on the human psyche is called the psychology of colours. The psychology of colours is used in advertising and marketing to induce emotional response and impact consumer behaviour and decision making. It is part of the initial impression your product, service, and brand provoke on consumers’ minds.

    Why it is necessary to analyse consumer behaviour?

    First of all, consumer behaviour is an all-inclusive factor in presenting your product or service to the market. It includes psychology, biology, chemistry and economics working together to determine how the consumer decides on a product (or service, or brand) that will fulfil their need.

    As a definition, consumer behaviour is the study of consumers’ emotional, mental and behavioural responses and the process they use to choose and use products and services offered in the market.

    The psychology of colours in consumer behaviour is, generally, a challenging and positive study that should reveal the experiences and the perception of your clients or prospective clients. It is essential because it is the key to reaching and engaging your clients and converting them to purchase from you.

    Understanding consumer behaviour helps marketers decide how to present their products to generate a maximum impact on consumers. 

    Incidentally, perceiving consumer behaviour and evaluating it towards your product or service is critical to your branding strategy.

    Correct, appropriate colours are an essential factor in understanding consumer behaviour. Take time to research the colours you’ll employ, whether starting a new business or renovating an existing one. 

    Is yellow one of your favourite colours? So, the colour to use is yellow? It’s possible, but it’s also possible that it’s not. Remember that it is the appropriate colour to respond to your customers’ emotions, not your favourite colour that will provide your customers with a great user experience.

    Right colours transmit a psychological message to the user’s minds that your product or service is vital to fulfilling their needs.

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    The role of colour in UX

    Understanding the psychology of colours in consumer behaviour also works well in digital design on a website. Colours will not only be an aesthetic choice that looks nice but a crucial element of the psychological impact of the design on the visitors. It can make the difference between a good and a bad web design. It can undermine the user’s overall experience and even interfere with their ability to use the website.

    UX Design Colour Psychology, including accessibility, is an essential tool for creating website elements like buttons, navigation and call to action designs. Since colour is the most accessible element, your customer will remember them. Colour psychology is a crucial element of UX, broadly used in user-experience design and marketing, sales and conversion.

    Academics have already found it

    Academic papers have demonstrated that colours affect customers. Scholars have studied statistics and behaviour on all kinds of marketing strategies from selecting fresh vegetables to coffee drinking, restaurant eating, gardening, books covering, clothes, etc. Colours and their associations are everywhere.

    consumer behaviour and needs

    The American Psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote in 1943 his motivational theory “The Hierarchy of Needs” in which humans are compared to an animal in need who is rarely completely satisfied except for a short period of time. Once his wishes are fulfilled, he attends to another desire.

    Actually, his theory is handy for the marketing managers’ insight into consumers’ motives to guarantee that their products reach the needs of their target market. We admit, of course, that several variables, internal and external, impact consumer behaviour. 

    After all, the impact 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, therefore, is a function of quality, price, advertisements and the way the products are presented – packing, colours, literature, website demos, staff skills, et cetera used to satisfy the customers’ demands.

    How to use colours to improve consumer behaviour

    Many external variables that impact consumer behaviour are partly controlled by the product’s seller, such as price, quality, delivery time, promotions, etc. Those offering products or services must realise that their products are professionally suited to the market goal. It is a matter of building your business with excellent professional services. The consumers will notice this and reward that business.

    It’s imperative to remember that one factor that profoundly affects consumer behaviour is the colour of the product they intend to buy. Why would a red product sell more than a green product? 

    Colours in marketing influence people and have a powerful impact on their behaviour and responses. For instance, I created a website on family and children support. The colour palette was bright and vivid, with original illustrations of family and children to impact the target audience’s perception. But the business changed its focus from family support to men’s therapy—a dramatic change. The website needed to change drastically.  What would I do with all the bright and vivid colours I had used? It was clear they would not have the same dramatic impact on the new audience.

    The men visiting the website were looking for support for men’s problems and frustrations to help themselves, not their kids. Obviously, the layout and the colour palette had to change. It required colours that would respond to the men’s needs and induce them to stay at the website, read the content and, hopefully, find a solution to their problems. 

    So to change the colour palette and appeal to the new largest possible audience, I went to the blues. Blue is a colour associated with trust and loyalty, and it is the most universally liked colour in the world. Its lighter colours are affiliated with communication, and the darker hues with sadness and depression. The colour palette offered appropriate perceptions of the website focus. 

    Car colour psychology

    Another interesting example is the choice of our cars. The bright iconic red of Ferrari, the superb brilliant yellow of Lamborghini, or the ultimate Wimbledon white of the Mustang. According to researchers, colour is the factor that new buyers take the longest to decide when purchasing a new vehicle. It is quite interesting to read how the choice of colours is used to categorise the types of drivers according to Flexed:

    • Black: Dangerous, rebellious. Black cars are far and away more likely to be involved in an accident and a road rage incident. However, black is also used to denote power, so it is a popular choice in executive cars. 
    • White: Modern and tasteful. White is the most popular colour for new cars as it shows a driver’s desire to have the latest products. Apple products reflect the same passion. Most likely colour for a family car
    • Red: Extrovert drivers choose a red car. They’re also more likely to drive faster, thinking the colour makes them more visible, giving them a false sense of security. Likely to be angry behind the wheel.
    • Blue: Happy and confident. Blue car drivers are more likely to let you out at a road junction.
    • Silver: Safer, more mature. Silver is the car least likely to be involved in a car accident and use less petrol.
    • Brown: Dull, introverted, doesn’t want to stand out from the crowd. More likely to be the victim of an accident
    • Green: Unfashionable, don’t care what people think. People have stopped buying green cars to show off their green credentials. It’s now seen as a colour of rebellion. Green drivers are least likely to let you out at a road junction.
    • Blue and white: You’re a police officer.

    Colours definitely have a role in consumer’s identity factors. And they almost define how you drive! I will not reveal the colour of my car! 😊

    Colours and marketing insights

    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 were you frightened by a red signal? Therefore, the psychology of colours is a powerful determinant of human behaviour and is used by brands to induce different responses.

    How colours influence people

    By the way, there is a comprehensive, in-depth article by Channel Reply, by Dawn Matthews, on Colour Psychology in Marketing and Branding, which is really worth reading. Dawn goes into great detail about the psychology of different colours, their positive and negative effects, and what you can do to choose the right colours for business. 

    How to use colours to improve consumer behaviour correctly

     Research has shown that consumers affirm that colour is a primary reason for buying a product, and most of them look at the visual appearance when they buy

    How colours affect the visual of your product

    1. Consumers notice colours before words

    Therefore, if you are thinking of advertising, promotions or a brand new branding development, I hope you can see now how colours influence the consumer feelings about your product or service.  They have the same power in generating sales as any well-written slogan.

    2. Colours change moods and attitudes

    For example, do you want your customers to feel serene and clean? Use blue. Do you need to emphasise clarity and purity? Well, choose blue and white. Does your product emphasise exercise and fitness? Use orange. Is it a luxurious product? Perhaps purple would be your choice. 

    To summarise, the emotion the colour generates will be associated with the consumer’s feelings toward your product and hopefully will be extended to a purchase experience.

    3. Colours grab consumers attention because of the specific association human minds have with colours

    For instance, red is one of the most vibrant colours in the visible spectrum. It invariably attracts the consumer’s eyes because of our numerous associations with that colour, including the presents from Santa Claus!

    4. Colours appeal to your customers

    They play with their desires and wants. Is your business in an urban marketplace? Then, maybe blue, green, and white will offer your customers the expansiveness and closeness they desire with nature.

    5. Colours show product characteristics to attract the target customer base

    Does your product emphasise elegance, mystery and power? Well, then, use black, which is the colour of the premium segment.

    Psychological aspects of colours

    Let’s go back to school. The primary colours are red, yellow and blue and the secondary colours are orange, green and purple. We create warm and cool colours with them.  Tints, shades, tones and beautiful colour harmonies set a mood, attract attention, and make a statement that should surely be well used by your brand. 

    Do not use colour schemes that would clash or overwhelm your customers; instead, increase their chances to like your brand and consider your products or services. Red,  orange and pink are the best colours to attract customers to your window. Retail store customers prefer blue colour schemes, but a red atmosphere is more likely to impulse their buying response.

    Cultural Differences

    Consumers in different nations and different cultures experience and react to colours differently. When choosing your colours take into account the target audience’s cultural background. Specific associations in some countries may be completely different in others. For instance, we can look into the variations in the colour yellow:

    • In Western culture, it represents optimism and happiness
    • In Japan, it is associated with courage, bravery
    • In China, it is associated with pornography
    • In Germany and French, it signifies jealousy, betrayal, contradiction
    • In Italy, it designates mystery fiction and thrillers (‘romanzo giallo’)
    • In several Latin American cultures, it is slang for cowardice
    • In the Middle East, yellow is imperial and sacred
    • In some African nations, it is reserved only for people of high rank
    • Egyptians also associated it with gold that was used to paint mummies, making it a symbol of mourning
    • It is the lucky colour for Monday in Thai culture and represents King Bhumibol (1946), born on a Monday.

    And indeed, there must be several other cultural reactions around the world. Still, we can evaluate by this diversity that the perceived appropriateness of the colour is highly relevant to branding and merchandising. A poor choice of colours could impact your brand negatively, and the competition would love it! Using a colour scheme that does not fit your target audience’s expectations will stop you from reaching them.

    Finding your own palette

    Generally, choosing the perfect colour scheme is still challenging to do even with all the skills we have developed. Subsequently, the impact of different colours on shopping behaviour, especially regarding time pressure and willingness, is still scrutinised.

    But it is provenly known that the product’s colour the person is willing to buy has a profound effect on the shopping experience. So, suppose colours are combined with an attractive price, excellent quality and superb user experience. In that case, we should have an unbeatable tactic to lead to a favourable shopping decision that will attend to the customer’s needs and desires.

    consumer behaviour

    Select lucky colours for your business

    I have tried to demonstrate in this article that colours are an essential tool that has an incredible impact on marketing.

    In conclusion, it is essential to understand what colours mean to your customers in practical and emotional ways: gender, cultural background, and other significant factors of your target audience. We don’t all react the same way to colours and, in particular, important events, cultures, people and memories we have accumulated will definitely influence our decisions.

    Consequently, test your colours to see which ones make people click on your content more frequently.

    Testing is hugely significant. Without it, you will not know how your audience will respond. With the testing results analysis, you will determine colour combinations and placement to generate better positive results. Our reputation goes with it!

    Conclusion

    From personal experience, I have discovered that the perception of colours is an important marketing tool that businesses should use. Using colours to improve consumer behaviour is arguably one of the most critical aspects of brand building. Consumers will notice colours before the text, photos, and other images are processed.

    It means that behind the colour scheme in visual merchandising, there is a powerful tool that your customers will interpret and give meaning. The subconscious reactions that you can exploit to create the desired response in your customers. 

    Remember that the psychology of colours to improve consumer behaviour is more than just a powerful marketing tool to influence consumer purchases. Nowadays, you’ve got to continually study your customers’ reactions to colours and keep your products, services, and brand identity in harmony with the desired balance of colours for successful marketing.

    Understanding what pain points your colour palette could be inflicting on your customers and crafting psychological tools to connect with your customers to inspire them to take action and help your business stand out from the competition.

    To develop a clear brand identity that generates constructive response among customers to succeed, follow the guidelines I have given here to naturally integrate the psychology of colours into your user experience. See your products as your customer sees them and offer them what they want to buy.

    Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2019 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

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    Cidinha Moss

    Cidinha Moss

    Cidinha Moss is the founder of Moss51 Art & Design, an SEO Content Writing and Web design studio. She is a content writer and web builder with a background in languages, education, and entrepreneurship with years of writing, teaching, and providing effective text, images, and web designs to her clients. You can find her on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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