The Psychology Of Color At Retail

Recently we executed some in-market research for developing in-store POS pieces to be used in a busy supermarkets. Wanting to make sure we caught the shopper’s attention with the right in store media, we took a series of shelf extenders into a retail environment, affixed them to a store shelf and asked shoppers to shop the aisle without telling them what they were looking for.

It was an interesting real-life test – shoppers denied seeing the extender in every instance except for one – when the extender was mostly yellow. In that instance, shoppers recalled either the sign or the messaging more than 65% of the time. Even a neon green sign, much loved in a sterile conference room, seemingly disappeared into the background once it was affixed to a store shelf.

Why? It wasn’t that the design was different. The design, with the exception of color, was exactly the same. It’s because people are conditionally programmed to respond to color in certain ways.

For example, in car-loving America, green means go. We’re driving along see a green light and don’t think or pause. When we see a yellow light on the other hand, drivers are conditioned to slow down, some even stop. By using a predominately yellow sign, we were able to tap into a shopper’s psychological conditioning – we were able to get her to slow down and look.

So why not red? That’s another place where testing in a real-life retail environment plays a role. In this case most SKUs in the aisle were also red. So where red can psychologically mean stop, in a sea of red the additional red of a shelf extender blended right into the background.

If you are making decisions on designs without looking at them in their natural environment, you should. After all, it’s one thing to look at in store designs on paper or in focus groups, but it can be quite another to see and experience them in a shopping environment.

Fore more on the Psychology of Color at Retail click here.

Contributed by Anne Villarreal, Dallas

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