Want to Earn More Green? Use the Psychology of Color

by Dave Clarke on March 7, 2014
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Want to really influence people with your marketing efforts, give some serious thought to the colors you use in everything from advertisements to in-store promotions. Why? Consumers cite color as the reason they buy [PDF] something 85 percent of the time.

What’s more, color improves brand recognition by up to 80 percent, and color ads are read 42 percent more often than the same ads in black and white, according to the Color Marketing Group, a nonprofit organization that has been studying the impact of color on marketing and profits for more than 50 years.

Color selections can boost your bottom line. Take automaker General Motors, for example. In 2006 and 2007, GM’s Cadillac division shifted from offering car buyers “gray” to “titanium” as a color option, while its Buick division offered “sharkskin.” Both new grays cost car buyers a $995 premium. Customers not only bought into the color shift, but did so by a margin of more than 33 percent compared with “old gray.”

Making the Right Color Choices

Which colors are best-suited to your marketing objectives? Here’s a quick look at the psychology behind certain hues from Kissmetrics and Small Business Trends’ “The Psychology of Color.”

Red is known to stimulate appetites. Maybe that’s why food purveyors McDonald’s and Kellogg’s use red in their logos. Red is also associated with Republican political leanings in the U.S. and can create urgency for clearance-sale items or prompt impulse buys.

Blue, generally preferred by men, imparts both calmness and productivity. The color of choice for Democratic party messaging in the U.S., blue is also used by Ford, Dell, and Facebook.

Green is commonly associated with nature, health, and money. It is prominent in the logos of Whole Foods, Tropicana, and Starbucks.

Orange is used to stimulate excitement and enthusiasm. It is featured in the logos of Harley-Davidson, Nickelodeon, and Discover.

Yellow imparts cheerfulness and warmth and draws the attention of window shoppers. It is used by McDonalds (along with red), IKEA (along with blue), and Best Buy.

Certain types of consumers are more influenced by specific colors than others. Budget-conscious shoppers, for example, are thought to respond better to navy blue and teal. Traditional buyers and people shopping for clothes gravitate to rose, pink, and sky blue. Red, orange, black, and royal blue are known for influencing impulse buyers, especially for fast food and clearance sales.

To gain some insight into what colors might pad your profits, study your competitors (the successful ones, that is) and learn from their experience.

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