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How do colors affect purchases?

For retailers, shopping is the art of persuasion. Though there are many factors that influence how and what consumers buy. However, a great deal is decided by visual cues, the strongest and most persuasive being color. When marketing new products it is crucial to consider that consumers place visual appearance and color above other factors such as sound, smell and texture. To learn more about color psychology and how it influences purchases, see our latest infographic.

Click on the image below to see a larger view:

Color Psychology

View an enlarged version of this Infographic »

  1. Beautiful and informative!

  2. James Chartrand Aug 31, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Color psychology is pretty fascinating stuff. (Ergo, why I protested when my teen wanted to paint her bedroom vivid red and why my dull olive-green living room depresses me.)

    One thing to note as well is that the shade of colors also affects response. Blue is great for businesses, because it conveys grounded, established trust and security… but only if it’s that particular shade of IBM blue or a little darker.

    Sky blue is definitely not going to get the same response :)

    • Good call.

    • My 16 yr. old just painted his room RED and BLACK and all the accesories are WHITE. It looks amazing!!!!! Red, when used properly, looks stunning!

      • I agree, red can be a very powerful color. At the same, if it isn’t used the right way, it can come across negatively.

    • Great advice. My den has been an olive green color for yeas. And while I feel relaxed in it, it bores me to pieces! Time for a change!

      • My bedroom is bright red. Perhaps that’s why I don’t sleep so well in there.

        • My bedroom is red too, I sleep absolutely perfect. However, my boyfriends bedroom is mostly bright white and I sleep terribly there..

  3. Carlos Taborda Aug 31, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Nice! I’m gonna test the orange :)

    • I’ve got a red couch with orange cushions in my holiday chalet. It was delivered as a mistake and I was horrified. Within half an hour I loved it and everyone who stays there says how cheerful and happy they feel throughout their holiday. Being in an extremely nice place helps too, of course….

  4. Also find this fascinating and while it can often be straightforward to apply for clients, to then incorporate this into my own marketing I find less easy – even though I do know my ideal customer well. Perhaps that’s the time to let someone else loose on the branding!

    Thanks for this – nicely covered and something to pass on.

  5. Vince Robisch Aug 31, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Very interesting. So would a combination of black and green be good if you are marketing high end products & services?

  6. Excellent … some people or even some companies doesn’t believe in “colors”, this post is so helpful. … thanks….

  7. Maybe you should do a chart on how spelling *affects purchases. =)

    (Other influences)

    • Haha, or maybe something about pink being used to market products to *women rather than just one woman. ;)

      • Personally I’d rather go for one on the sensationalities invoked by various colours :)

        It is pretty amusing to see small errors like this in an infographic about how fickle consumers are and how easily they’re turned away by small things that don’t really matter

  8. Nicolas Franz Aug 31, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Beautiful infographic!
    I don’t think color is the main subject of the infographic, but I liked the way you visually explained the reactions of people according to primary colors.
    One thing that I would like to suggest is to make clear that color is after all a tendency. Tomorrow the today’s “luxury color” could change, and certainly it will, it all depend of the context. Yes, it could take a long.. long time, but at the end it is tendency.

  9. Tim Leighton-Boyce Sep 01, 2010 at 1:29 am

    Thanks for this great resource. I’m very pleased to have something to point people at when discussing the subject.

    But it’s important to bear in mind that colour preferences do vary between different countries. If you need a reminder of this, try getting into the habit of looking at the airport car parks when you fly in and out of international airports. Colours which are popular for cars in some countries are never seen in others.

  10. Typical hivemind of “great post” comments. This is a pretty poor colour choice for an infographic that is ironically talking about the effect of colour.

    • Typical bitter jealous snowflake minded individual trying to stand out. Have to agree about the background color on it though, it could be a better contrast to the foreground colors. I would wager a girl who shops at Old Navy made it ; )

      • I can’t really see the old navy, but the graph looks fine to me. Which color do you think would have made it better?

  11. Interesting to see the stats on this. I’m sure there is some relevance to it, but my worry is, this could lengthen the testing process for some newbie conversion fanatics.

    For me, this is goings straight to the designers i work with to remind them about who there audience is…

  12. I’m wondering if the color affects purchases based on the hue itself, or if we as consumers have become conditioned to certain colors signifying certain things, i.e. red for ‘sales’, black for luxury items, etc.? I suspect it is some conbination of the two.

  13. Colour is a major significance in building brand awareness. It influences a sub-conscious association to a company. It is of paramount importance and is an integral fundamental consideration in the design process.

  14. Why on earth don’t people making inforgraphics EVER quote the sources of their info?! I’m super interested in the 1% every 100ms statistic, but I’m gonna have to research that for myself know. Considering infographics are all about extremely useful user experience, it’s mind bogglingly annoying that I’ll have to google that just to make sure it’s not total balls.

    • Ed:
      The source is Amazon research 1ms=1%
      At the bottom of the graphic there are source references.

      Calm down dude!
      Maybe the info-graphic should have been a darker blue :)

  15. Very interesting. Are these colors globally or just US/ European based.

    Sam Abraham | Marketing & Outreach, Actionly

  16. All the design and color and art books that I have all make claims about color meaning, but I’m certain some of it is cultural, and none of the books or writers who assign meanings to colors ever give one shred of evidence supporting their claims.

    So, I want to know how you know colors have certain meanings to the general public.

  17. Loren Woirhaye Sep 05, 2010 at 8:27 am

    This is really great information but the experience is kind of ironic because the chart is quite fuzzy and more than a little hard to read. That’s the kind of thing that definitely turns of internet browsers. If you used fuzzy text and graphics on a real product package shoppers would assume it was real cheap junk.

  18. Very nice graph! What do you think about the color ‘white’? I guess this should also be discussed in compare to the color ‘black’.

  19. Color could have been used much more effectively in this infographic. It’s actually pretty poorly designed, as well. Look at the Color and Consumer portion – not laid out very well. The curves on the lines are not drawn smoothly and the Kleptocracy font choice is poor. Also, nobody must’ve told you that the color yellow does not read well on a light blue background, especially to people with certain types of color blindness. Poor design overall.

  20. Interesting to say the least – I’ll be weary of this next time I go shopping..

  21. A lot of poor gramar … I can’t take anything seriously when there are typos and gramatical errors on something that’s supposed to be “professional.” i.e.: “creates the sensational of …” Should be, “creates the sensation of …” And there are more.

    “The proof is in the reading and the better reading is in the proofing!” jbdean

    • I 100% agree with jbdean. The graphic, though nice and interesting, was littered with grammatical errors. Unacceptable. This diminishes crowdSpring’s professionalism in my eyes.

    • I noticed the same thing. Typos and grammatical errors galore. Glad I searched for “typos” on this page before just posting a new comment about it.

      I wonder what effect typos and poor grammar have on purchases. I think I can guess.

  22. Danny halarewich Sep 08, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Great infographic! This confirms some things that came somewhat intuitively to me as a designer.

    All very interesting.

  23. Excellent infographic. It’s always great to see some new numbers with this information. Very much appreciated!

  24. For me blue always looked professional.

  25. Oh! my god… What a info. Great infographic.
    Few thing we should keep in mind before choosing color 1)Country 2)What kind of audience you are targeting including age and last but least 3) Age of your audience.

    Thank you once again for sharing great info.

  26. Satish Chathanath Sep 19, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    Good stuff Neil… even though it is a bit restricted to North American preferences and psychology. Think it will be a nice idea to add an infographic piece on the select few colours that symbolises positivity and negativity across the globe. I suppose Blue is one colour that is considered good across countries and cultures. Let us take another colour – White … It symbolises ‘Purity’ in India but ‘Mourning’ in China. Love to see someone doing an infographics around each colour and what it means across the globe. I know it is an ‘easy ask’ but a big task!

  27. Great topic. I think that colors can psychologically influence people to act a certain way. In fact, I heard somewhere that this is the reason why some burger joints use different colored wrappers that will affect the appetite of the buyer, which leads to the idea that color choices can actually affect one’s buying attitude.

  28. Interesting but would really like to see the source research material. There are too many unqualified percentages. For example, the 85% primary reason to buy a product may not be colour, branding may play a far greater role. You also state that green is the easiest colour to process but it’s also one of the worst converting colours. Still a pretty good report though.

  29. I had read about colors associated with sales somewhere last year and decided to revamp my site using turquoise. A better layout was also incorporated so hard to say which element had more affect but the feedback and purchases of the WP theme i used for astounded me, as did the BIG increase in purchases.

  30. Any idea on the methodology used to gather this data? It can make a huge difference.

    For example I would doubt “percentage of shoppers that did not return because of overall aesthetics” at 52% if it were based on simply asking customers directly. I think it’s a much more subtle and subconscious effect that customers don’t even realize most of the time. So if that data were discerned in other, less direct ways, I would give it more value.

    • I get what you mean however the research was based on various factors, not just asking customers directly. I agree that the subconscious factor really plays a large role.

  31. It would be also interesting to see different meanings of colours in countries. I have noticed at linkedin that many members from India has photos on with red background, it is not popular in other countries.

    Thank you for sharing! Perfect infographics

  32. I think there is definitely a connection with color and shopping, at least for me. There is a certain mood/feeling that inwardly I gravitate towards. I love color and very rarely have white. To me it is the absence of color. Recently, a pizza place opened in our community. I thought I am not attracted to it nor would I probably patronize the store. It’s Peace of Pizza. The colors are tye-dyed with a peace sign. I feel like I should come out of there high or the people are not clean but earthy. After thinking these thoughts, my friend went there and told me how much she loved it. So, naturally curiosity got me and I went there and bought pizza slices. And, guess what it is very clean, very nice and the pizzas are all gourmet with like basil, mozzarella and tomatoes or a Buffalo chicken pizza. So there you have it.

    • That’s a great example of looks being deceiving. If it hadn’t been for that referral, you probably wouldn’t have gone there and experienced amazing pizza. That just comes to show you that the place is giving the wrong message by the way they look…

  33. This is pretty good information although a bit simplistic
    especially about what colors attract what kind of shopper.
    Truth be told very few products use real primary colors.
    Even though red is a primary color the myriad differences in reds make huge differences. A perfect example is Target’s red and KMart’s red. Starting out as close competitors Target became conscious of the power of color early- long before the hot designers phase. The red of Target is sophisticated, the red of KMart is budget. So you can see it is extremely difficult to make these broad pronouncement abouts color. It is still always in the nuance. How many people have said, “Well we used red and it didn’t give us the results we wanted.” As Color Marketing Group, the international trackers of colors trends says, “Color Sells- and the right color sells better.” How true, how true.
    James Martin-The Color People

    • Interesting James… It’s always amazes me how something you wouldn’t image making a big a difference, does. Do you have any other examples like the kmart/target color?

  34. it’s still not clear which one we should chose for a shopping cart.
    i guess you have to define the target audience first.

    what about the green button of your own blog “add comment” ;) obviously works on me ;)

    • You would have to try it on your site own site to figure out which color/button is converting best. It really does vary for each site.

  35. There is a typo. It says “effects” when it should say “affects” next to the little green shopping cart.

  36. Denise Maling Jul 15, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Other than the couple of typo’s love this infographic! Wish we had this data for early website development circa 1997 – 2004!

  37. White and grey are missing (so no one buys Apple/Mac?)

  38. That’s a nice post about the psychology of colors. Psychology is an important marketing tool – although I never imagined colors being that powerful.

  39. Shelley Elleman Nov 15, 2011 at 8:16 pm

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  40. Nice Tip for us beginners in online market. This will always remind us to make our item icon to be colorful and attractive to our buyers eye. I really appreciate the effort on posting this really helpful tips. Looking forward on hearing more interesting post that I can learn from. Lesson learned. :)

  41. Interesting facts, I kinda knew orange colour fits perfect when it coms to online sales.

  42. Nice infographic, I’m impressed. Nice to see the various color schemes to be used depending on the situation (like a clearance) and/or the market (type of buyers and products).

  43. Really interesting. Even if orange is more associated with a call to action, we’d want to try green as a “Buy Now” button in the shopping cart, maybe soothing the anxiety of spending money. What do you think?

  44. Now everyone will know why I love Orange ;D

  45. For me when I see red on its own it distracts me from what I want to look at, pinks blues, white green those are the colours for me. Even when looking at a graphic

  46. Debajyoti Banerjee Apr 05, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Very interesting and insightful. Though I think the click through rate and buying decision are not solely dependent on just color of button but rather on overall look and feel of the website. With emerging social trends and technological advancement, buyers are really smarter than sellers and a site’s overall online trust and brand reputation ultimately matter in influencing the buying decision of prospects. I have seen an almost color-less (But clean & minimalistic) website of 90’s look and feel having huge online sales. It’s all about brand reputation at the end of the day. For start-ups, these factors might matter to establish their brand identity, but for already established brands, it hardly matters. When things go viral, people buy… no matter what the designs or colors are……..

  47. Colors always effect clients attention. For example, most women like pink colors. On the other hands, young people like black colors and aged people choose white colors. So when you design a product, you must utilize color properly so that it can draw attention of customer of all ages.

  48. This really seems to be the case with my website. I changed the whole look and colors years ago and made it bigger but never have gotten the sales like before I changed colors. In fact I thought my new look was more professional but I guess the old look was better at conversions.

  49. Color is not as simple as defined in this artical above. Adding to the good comments by James Martin and Leatrice Eisemen – product category, price point, the economy, understanding what the competition is doing and why all strongly influence the product color directions made.

  50. This is extremely culturally-bound. The color meanings and reactions are much different in different cultures, and is mentioned no where (except in the comments). In addition, there is the whole colorblind thing which affects a meaningful percentage of shoppers. Third, the color choice on this infographic is horrible. You guys don’t get color, my guess is that you are just doing some infographic SEO link bait. Sad.

  51. There are some interesting studies in this infographic. We may share it with our payment gateway clients, although we only operate in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, so some factors will not apply. (Green has no connotation with wealth outside of the USA, for example.)

    Kind regards,
    The eWAY Team

  52. Hey,

    Excellent infographics. Colors affect a lot in sales. If you have good web design and colors then there are chances that you can increase your sales.

    Thank you

  53. Color and symbol plays a major role in building brand awareness. The subconscious mind is influenced by this color and symbol.Most of the companies are famous with the help of right symbol and color gives added advantage.

  54. This is very good info to remember. It’s obvious now that you pointed it out, but I never thought about it until I read this (red urgency, black- luxury). Thanks for the help!

  55. Very interesting to read about the effect of colours on buying behaviours. I never thought colour could have such a big impact!

  56. You really make it seem really easy along with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something which I believe I’d by no means understand.
    It kind of feels too complex and very vast for me.
    I am looking ahead on your subsequent submit, I
    will attempt to get the hang of it!

  57. Interesting. I’ve always used blue on my site, might need a re-think.

  58. This page was originally written in 2010. How valid is that color research in 2015?

  59. James Lenfers Oct 05, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    So I tend to go with allot of black, with red or navy blue depending on my backgrounds as naturally appealing to me . Does that mean I am sleek, powerful and impulsive, but on a budget, or appealed to or attempting to appeal to without knowing it?

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