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The Relationship Between Colour & Sales

by: Amanda Vlahakis

Make no mistake that emotions are the driving force behind sales, and customers making buying decisions can be influenced through visual elements towards a particular behaviour or emotion that will encourage more sales.

Not convinced? Have you noticed that a lot of restaurants are decorated in/heavily feature reds and/or oranges? Still not convinced?

  • Pizza Hut
  • Frankie & Bennys
  • Burger King
  • Little Chef
  • TGI Friday
  • Bella Pasta (one of the few to focus on Orange rather than red)

These major players understand the psychology behind colour and its relationship to marketing which dictates that red and orange specifically encourage restaurant patrons to eat faster; thus yes you guessed it – increasing sales within the same period of time.

Red is known as an emotionally intense colour, stimulating a faster heartbeat and breathing. Orange is also an emotional stimulant.

It’s entirely possible you are suddenly frantically realising that you haven’t considered this at all when choosing your brand design and associated marketing materials and are now wondering whether you are maximising your sales through the use of colour psychology.

Luckily there’s no need to panic and start planning a complete (and potentially expensive) re-branding exercise.

Even if you didn’t initially consider this, it’s not too late to do something about it, there’s no reason why you can’t work with your existing brand colours and perhaps work new colours into your scheme that will work harder to encourage those sales – infiltrating the correct colours through your brochures, web site, stationery and so on.

This way you use colour psychology to strengthen your message yet whilst keeping the same brand that customers may have already become accustomed to seeing and have already ‘bought into’.

Now that you are aware that you can do something about your glaring error ;-)) – here are some tips:

  1. Culture: If you trade globally, remember that colours can have a different interpretation in different cultures – for example in Chinese culture, white is the colour of death.

  2. Shopper Habits – Apparently impulse buyers lean towards red-orange, black and royal blue, and those who plan ahead prefer pink, teal, light blue and navy.

  3. Status - Colour preference is influenced by our standard of living; brighter bolder colours appear to attract those on a lower income, whilst those targeting higher income brackets should use more subtle colours.

  4. Geography – The geographical location of your target market should be considered when making colour choices; those in Latin America for example will prefer stronger colours, whilst those in colder regions are attracted to neutrals.

Finally, in many cultures the following colours have the following marketing potential:

Red – The colour the eye perceives the quickest (although apparently research has indicated that middle aged and older people can find it hard to see this colour). Red can represent energy, speed, anger, danger (blood), excitement, strength, sex.

Blue – A cool colour preferred by most Europeans, especially men, it can hint at trust, and reliability.

Yellow – Warm and stimulating like the sun, and encourages feelings of happiness, especially preferred by young people if not used in excess. Can also be associated with betrayal however.

Orange – A warm vibrant shade without being reminiscent of danger or aggression as in red, good for encouraging impulse purchases.

Green – Fresh and cool; associated with nature, growth, and hope, but also with illness and superstition.

Purple – Has links with religion (Cardinals), and can also be seen as a royal colour and therefore is often linked with spirituality and dignity.

Pink – Soft, nurturing, and security and is used a symbol of love and sweetness. Too much pink can be seen as childish.

White – Purity, cleanliness, and is associated with nature and light. Take care; in Asia this colour is connected with mourning.

Black – Can see seen as sophisticated, and elegant, or mysterious but does symbolise death and the occult also, however if used in the right way (as it is often used with prestige/luxury products), such as when combined with gold, it can create a chic exclusive feel.

Gold – Prestigious and royal colour; expensive.

Silver – Can also be prestigious if used correctly, or to impart a ‘scientific’ association.


About the Author:

Amanda Vlahakis

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