Change Colors, Change Behavior
Rajesh Bagchi, an associate professor of marketing in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech conducted a study to compare the sales influence of blue vs. red. Bagchi and associate, Amar Cheema from the University of Virginia, studied sales on red websites vs. those on predominantly blue websites, as well as sales within predominantly blue and red retail environments. Very interestingly, their research found that the likelihood of a purchase is lower with red backgrounds than blue ones. When you compare sales of Walmart, a blue brand, with Target, a very red brand, you have to wonder:
- Walmart revenue in 2014: $467.30 billion
- Target revenue in 2014: $71.28 billion
Could it be that too much red in a retail setting makes us energetic and thus anxious to leave — like it supposedly does in restaurants, while blue, as suggested by one restaurant study, makes us relax and linger longer? I know which of these two big box powerhouses I linger in longer and purchase more from. And what’s most interesting is that consciously I prefer the one I linger in the least!
Beyond influencing food consumption and shopping behavior, colors play other important roles in other business settings. To start, colors are thought to influence how we perceive a brand’s attributes and values; which, in turn influence our interest in learning more about a brand or a product, and considering trial or purchase. For example, blue is solid in banking, as it’s the color of trust and intelligence. Green also does well in the financial services industry as, in our country, it represents wealth, money, stability and balance. However, in other countries and cultures, color meanings and influences can change.
Needless to say, choosing which colors are most likely to attract your core consumers, inspire them to engage with your message and hopefully impact shopping behavior among your customers can be nothing short of confusing.