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.
The recognition of this impact is crucial to know how to use colours to improve consumer behaviour correctly. The consumer’s reactions to your product or your brand will be dictated by the connections and emotions built in the consumers’ minds.
Research shows that most snap judgements about consumer products are based on colour. Most times, buying a product is based on whether the client believes its colour is appropriate for that particular product.
What is the Psychology of colours?
The study of the effect colours have on the human psyche is 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 your brand provokes on the consumer’s 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.
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 also critical to your branding strategy.
Correct, appropriate colours are an essential factor in the understanding of consumer behaviour. Right colours induce a positive user experience transmitting a psychological message to the user’s minds that your product or service is vital to fulfilling their needs.
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 in their ability to use the website.
The psychology of colours is particularly significant to the UX design of any business because colours can enhance a product’s usability, creating an emotional effect on the user.
Academics have already found it
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. 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 meet the customers demand.
Scholarly and 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.
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.
One of the factors that profoundly affect 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 their responses. For instance, I had created a website on family and children support. The colour palette was bright and vivid with original illustrations on family and children which impacted 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 to mens’ problems and frustrations to help themselves. Obviously, the layout and the colour palette had to change. I required colours that would respond to their need and induce them to stay at the website and read the content.
The colour palette on that website was one element that had to change. To appeal to the 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 to communication and the darker hues with sadness and depression. The colour palette offered appropriate perceptions of the website focus.
As we can conclude, the emotions the user connects to that colour direct the expected perception of the service.
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 an excellent 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.
How to use colours to improve consumer behaviour correctly
So, if you plan an office redesign, advertising or developing your brand, do not forget the wise use of colours. Research has shown that consumers affirm that colour is a primary reason for them to buy a product, and most of them look at the visual appearance when they buy. Staggering numbers for us to just forget buying the colours that are on sale!
How colours affect the visual of your product
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.
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 feelings the consumer feels toward your product and hopefully will be extended to a purchase experience.
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 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. Is your business in an urban marketplace? Then, maybe blue, green and white will offer your customers the expansiveness and closeness with nature that they desire.
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 be 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.
Consumers in different nations and different cultures experience and react to colours differently. When choosing your colours take into account the target audience cultural background. Specific associations in some countries may be completely different in others. For instance, we can look into the variations on 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 associate it with gold that was used to paint mummies, making it a symbol for 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, but 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 expectations will stop you from reaching them.
Finding your own palette
Generally, choosing the perfect colours 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 colour of the product 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.
Select lucky colours for your business
As we have tried to demonstrate in this article is 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 major factors of your target audience. We don’t all react the same way to colours and, in particular, significant events, cultures, people and memories we have accumulated will definitely influence our decisions.
Consequently, test your colours to see which ones make people click into 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!
From personal experience, I have discovered that the perception of colours is an important marketing tool that businesses should use. How we use colours to improve consumer behaviour is arguably one of the most critical aspects of brand building. The first thing that consumers will notice before the text, photos, and other images are processed.
It means that behind the colour scheme in visual merchandising, there is a powerful tool interpreted and given meaning by your customers. 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 your brand identity views with the desired harmony 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 conveying your brand messages is essential 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 guides lines I have given here to naturally integrate the psychology of colours into your user experience. See your products as your customer would see them and offer them what they want to buy.
Are you considering colour psychology on how you use colours to improve consumer behaviour as part of your marketing strategy? How is it working for you? What can you do to improve it?
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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