From a marketing perspective, we tend to believe “perception is reality” — which means that what shoppers believe about product features is more important than the reality of those features.

With this in mind, Rachel Griffith has written a fascinating article for Fast Company on the impact of color on consumer perceptions. As she notes:

“When it comes to identifying your brand, your logo is probably the first thing your customers will think of. While honing the narrative and message behind your logo should of course be your primary concern, research suggests that your logo’s design — and specifically its colors — have more bearing on your customers’ opinions than you might think. Neuroscientist Bevil Conway, who has focused his recent research almost entirely on the neural machinery behind color, believes the science behind color processing to be very powerful and completely underexploited.”

“According to research complied by web design and marketing company WebPageFX, people make a subconscious judgment about a product in less than 90 seconds of viewing, and a majority of these people base that assessment on color alone. In fact, almost 85% of consumers cite color as the primary reason they buy a particular product, and 80% of people believe color increases brand recognition.”

To learn more about the perceptions of people with regard to red, yellow, blue, orange, green, and purple, click on the infographic from Fast Company.



36 Replies to “How Colors Affect Consumers’ Product Perceptions”

  1. While I agree that color is very important in Marketing, I think the idea that 84.7% of consumer buying products based primarily on color is misleading. I think it must depend on the type of product. I cannot believe that for example for a car color would be more important than functionality and comfort. While it might make a difference if an array of colors is offered at the same price, personally I did not spend more money to have my car painted my favorite color. Also, when it comes to products suck as toilet paper, shampoo, and tooth paste, I do not think that the color of the package or the product is as important as its usability.
    I do believe that 52% of shoppers do not return to a store due to aesthetics. Personally, I do not shop at stores with undeniable odor (ie Aberchombie and Fitch) or stores that are too cluttered, or where the display makes no sense and I have to wonder around for 30 minutes to find a product.

  2. Brand Marks in black and white just don’t stand out as much. If you’re looking for a shampoo to buy, and there are three grey bottles and a neon yellow one, you’re probably not going to notice the grey ones. You can notice the Golden Arches from a good distance away and may the association, but the Grey Arches wouldn’t get the job done as well.
    Also, certain colors can have certain assumed meanings, like banks with a big green symbol might be trying to make people think they’re environmentally friendlier than other banks with red symbols.

  3. I do agree that color plays a big part when consumers buy a product but to me only in a secondary aspect. When I shop, after the type or brand of a product is picked, then color is the next deciding factor. When it comes to more necessities (soap, shampoo, etc.) or even products you are spending a large amount of money on, color is not at the top of the list as a deciding factor for me. I fully agree however, that when it comes to advertisements and other marketing materials, color plays an extremely important role in attracting and keeping a consumer’s attention.

  4. This article makes sense. Colors have the ability to remind us of things and we can associate them with smells and tastes. Green is good for fresh scent products. Blue reminds us of the ocean and so on. Depending on the product the marketes have the ability to tap into our subconscious

  5. I feel that this concept applies more specifically to advertising, where the colors draw attention or evoke a certain emotion in relation to the ads shown or the brand. When it comes to colors dictating purchases, it would probably work for low-involvement products. Things such as detergents or deodorants could be impulsively bought as a result of color impressions. One of the products most dictated by this factor would be apparel shopping, because that’s mostly about visuals. Apart from that, high-involvement product would mostly be purchased due to their features rather than color.

  6. “almost 85% of consumers cite color as the primary reason they buy a particular product,” I cannot agree more. When I go shopping, the order of the key attribute for me is brand-color-price-style, color plays a very important role for my shopping selection. But I have to say for some more functional concerned products, color is not at the top of the list. You will never care about the color of the dish wash soap, right? The more appearance the product shows to public, color plays more important role. The research upon is really interesting.

  7. I’m a psych major and actually did my senior thesis experiment on color psychology. There is a lot more research on the subject if anyone is interested you should look at the Hofstra database and search color psychology in PsychInfo. I learned that there are many implicit color associations, meaning colors unconsciously illicit certain moods, blue-calm, red-alert, etc. I find it pretty fascinating. There are many applications for color psychology in marketing.

  8. This article presents an interesting aspect toward the things that people usually didn’t pay much attention about. it also give our marketers an ideas that beside the real features , there are also many hidden factors that would impact our product image to the customers. therefore, when we plan marketing strategy in future, we should also pay more attention to the design of the product, or packaging, to make sure our product will satisfy our customers visually.

  9. It makes a lot of sense that a consumers perceptions about a product is the most important thing when it comes to selling a product. In this way I can understand on why color takes such in important role when it comes to designing logos and products. However I don’t really agree with a lot of these statistics. This is because while color plays a very important role I would consider it a dependent factor and not an independent factor. By this I mean that a consumer more than likely picks a product based on its features, and then picks the most appeasing color. An example of this would be a certain T shit, computer case, or other fuctional item. A consumer picks the most appealing color to him/her but was probably already going to buy the product unrelated to what color they decided to buy.

  10. I think color plays an important role when people buying a product and recognizing a brand, but it is not a deciding factor. I doubt that 84.7% of consumers cite color as the primary reason they buy a particular product in the psychology of color chart. It depends on what kind of products and what kind of groups of people. Like when people buy a cup, some of them may choose a purple one but not a red one only because they like purple rather than red. It is not concerned about primary colors or secondary colors, although primary colors did have a better awareness than secondary colors. Overall, I believe colors have a big impact in brand awareness, we can use colors subconscious to build a brand, however, colors are not the deciding factor.

  11. Certain colors may affect a consumers product perspective ,however I think it is more of a marketing technique to get the attention of the consumer. The particular product itself on quality may be the deciding factor. The color is merely just a tool. Certain colors correlate certain meanings. This could draw a consumer in on a particular product.

  12. I agree that color enhances a persons perception. most of the time I wouldn’t buy something if I didn’t like the color. also colors help me so much when it comes to learning. when I’m studying I highlight things in different colors and associate different things with those colors. it helps me remember concepts much easier.

  13. I completely agree with this article that color does affect your purchasing decisions. 85% is a overwhelming majority that almost everyone bases there decision off of color. Most people when they think of a certain company think of there color. For example, when I think of home depot I think of orange or for best buy I think of yellow and blue. I find bright colors more appealing than dull colors like grey, white and black. For me personally I love the color green. I would say 75% of my purchases are green. I chose TD bank as my bank because there logo is bright green. So I think color is a very powerful marketing tool and has way more persuasion on a purchase decision than you think.

  14. I certainly agree with the idea that color, and mostly a product’s overall appearance, plays a huge role in consumer choices. However, I think color is a larger deciding favor when it’s a lower priced item or a necessity, such as a toothbrush, shampoo, etc. For example, my favorite color is purple and it definitely affected which toothbrush I bought. I also embarrassingly chose the brands that had a purple water bottle, a purple yoga ball, purple pillows, etc. In these cases, I chose the brands with my favorite color instead of research quality or prices.

  15. I 100% believe in this idea that color plays a big role in consumers choices. I know that when I shop I am one of those people that get extremely distracted by colorful items, especially my favorite color. When I see something stand out to me I almost always go and look at it and sometimes even end up buying it when I know I don’t necessarily need it. Sometimes colors just change peoples attitudes which I believe has a lot to do with it.

  16. After reading this article I would have to agree that the idea of colors playing a big role in a consumers purchase is true. I believe that the color of a product can catch the eyes of people and influence them to buy it. My favorite color is green and I know that when I am looking for a certain product I tend to always find myself purchasing the one that has green in it. For example, all of my toothbrushes, body washes, and bed sheets have always had green in them. If I see a product I am unsure of, I always try the one that is green first to see if i like it.

  17. I completely agree that colors have a huge impact on us as consumers. One perfect example of color marketing is Coca-Cola. The company has been known for its fire-truck-red labels and logos for several decades. Coca-Cola has been able to successfully associate their brand with adjectives like thirst-quenching, happiness, carefree, lively and things like summer, sun, Santa Claus, and Christmas. The color red gives them a vibrant and loving appeal. I have always been aware of colors and their importance in creating a brand image but after reading this article it showed me how much more I was unaware of.

  18. I agree with the fact that color impacts a consumers decision. People will buy either their favorite color, or even a favorite teams color if it is on a particular item. I would also think that season affect the color clothing we buy. There are probably more brighter colored clothing items bought during the spring and summer rather than the winter.

  19. In a world surrounded by color, it is no surprise that this plays an important role in marketing and buying with consumers. I learned in my RTVF1 class how important color is to attraction with a product. Everything started making more sense when it came to wait consumers liked and what I specifically was buying. This post and inforgraphic only further high tens my awareness to how important color is. Black and white is considered old and just does no grab the attention of potential consumers. An example of how important color is could even be the movie Pleasantville.

  20. I definitely agree that color plays a huge role into consumer purchasing. For example, if there was a advertisement in a magazine that was for toothpaste and it was in black and white, I would not really notice it as much as if it was in bright colors. If the ad was colored in blue and green, this would make me want to buy the product more because it would give me a sense of that minty fresh taste that the toothpaste has. I also agree with the statistic that 52% for shoppers do not return to the store because of aesthetics. I will not go back to a store that is extremely cluttered or unorganized. For example, there is a clothing store near my house that is extremely small and has clothes piled up everywhere in the store. My friends and I do not shop here because the store is extremely overwhelming with the merchandise everywhere.

  21. I completely agree with this article. Whenever I am out at the mall or any shopping center with friends I always hear them say they like certain items because of the color. I must admit that I even buy things sometimes because I think the color is cool or unique. I also agree that color in a logo will help consumers recognize the logo much easier which is great for the company.

    1. I think the article over-evaluate the importance of color. I have to say that color is a essential factor for people to choose a product, but the function and price is decisive reason, especially when a product have a color series. It is easy for producer to add a new color to its current product while it is hard to change the product’s function and price. So when a company decide to release a new product, color could be modified according to market feedback.

  22. I think the article over-evaluate the importance of color. I have to say that color is a essential factor for people to choose a product, but the function and price is decisive reason, especially when a product have a color series. It is easy for producer to add a new color to its current product while it is hard to change the product’s function and price. So when a company decide to release a new product, color could be modified according to market feedback.

  23. Thanks for posting. It describes a very interesting topic. I have noticed that women in different age have different preferences of colors and they weight color more than style of clothing. Women at 10-28 ages prefer sweet and cute colors, such as pink, bright yellow. Those at 29-40 ages focus on black, grey and white clothing. However, women who are 40 plus years old change their minds and decided to bring back the lovely colors again.

  24. This definitely makes alot of sense, I know for a fact that whenever I buy a drink I would rather a red or a blue than anything else. This effect is so powerful that on my last trip to the grocery store I just grabbed a half gallon drink because It was red and didnt look to see what it actually was until I got home, It was disgusting and I’ll be more careful next time.

  25. This article is really interesting. I have never thought that color will play that important role in the consumer’s purchase. But we all know that different colors stand for different mood, when you feel sad, blue could describe it. When you feel exited, red could stand for it. Purchasing is actually a casual thing, sometimes we have dilemma in making decisions because some products are similar, maybe at that moment color will influence the consumers.

  26. Interesting article, I agree that colors will affect perceptions of customers on a product, and the use of color sure pushes promotion, as the ads in colors are more eye-catching than black and white ones. But I think the impacts of colors on people’s purchase decisions have been overestimated. Color or color combination reflect consumers’ tastes and personality, so if a product is offered with different colors options, people would choose their favorite ones, which fits their characters. But it also depends on the type of the product, if concerning those with high-involvement, functions, or other features may come before appearances.

  27. Colors may have influences on consumers, it may because of experience and psychological implications. Since we were born, the most visual information we received was combined with colors. So, it’s naturally we have specific feelings towards different colors. So I think the right way to study the color influences is to study people’s experience. Study education and childhood. It will help a lot!

  28. Personally, I think this theory is pretty useful for the some specific industries, such as advertising, packaging and etc. People usually choose the products they like at the first glance of them. If a adorable color can attract them at first, the product can also attract their first glance. Also, the color perceptions theory can be used in marketing the products in social media. For me, I usually just browse the news in Facebook quickly if there’s nothing important. But I was attracted by some advertisement posted in Facebook for several times because they posted colorful attractive advertisement on Facebook.

  29. I think colors affect consumer preferences a lot. Bright colors usually represent good moods and dark colors represent bad moods. You can see products marketed towards say, an audience that is prone to psychedelic drugs have a tie dye print for their products, products targeted towards preppy people have a lot of pastels and so on and so forth

  30. I can definitely agree that colors affect consumers’ product perceptions. 80% think color increases brand recognition and I definitely fall into that 80%. When brands use more vibrant colors, their product and brand name sticks out more. The public is able to become more accustomed to the brand in recognizing its color that it presents to the consumers. When people buy, 93% look at visual appearance. People are not going to purchase something if it doesn’t appeal to them, which is why this statement is true, and why the percentage is so high. Color has a huge impact on visual appearance, and therefore affects consumers’ product perceptions. Although color isn’t the only thing that influences visual appearance, it is most definitely a huge component of appearance.

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