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Shoppers can be influenced, positively and negatively, by many aspects in-store. Colour is one element that can have a surprising effect on a shopper, with the ability to make products seem better value, higher quality — or not worth the price.
While shoppers have clear, fairly uniform reactions to many colours and so choosing the colours you use in-store can be a balancing act. A supermarket needs to look affordable, but the same colour scheme would look out of place in a high-end clothing store.
Our natural reactions to many colours stem from evolution. Primary colours often act as an early warning system for poisonous plants and venomous animals, warning others to stay away. This is why many of the colour combinations our eyes are naturally drawn to are reflected in nature — the black and yellow of a wasp or the red and white of a snake.
When we see these colours now, our eye is initially drawn to them in case they are a threat. Once we have determined that it isn’t, we have already seen the item — or the product label.
We have other, gentler reactions to other colours, such as finding sky blue soothing, or green calming. Gentler reactions mean that these colours can be good atmospherically, or on products where the label doesn’t need to stand out, such as high-end stores. However, gentler colours are less ideal in situations where the label is key such as in discount sales.
Your in-store colour scheme says a lot about you and your company; it demonstrates how you want to be seen and how others should consider you. Different colour schemes and the use of different textures will have different atmospheric effects and no scheme will work universally.
For example, in an expensive suit shop, one theme may be dark browns and greens — with wood panelling to give an impression of history and class. This gives a traditional feel to the suits. A less traditional high-end suit store might rely more on brushed steel — with perspex and white surfaces — giving an impression of something new and exciting. Buying a high-end suit is an experience within itself and the surroundings reflect this.
Neither of these themes would work in another common retail situation — the supermarket. A supermarket with wood panelling and dark carpets is more likely to look old and claustrophobic, giving the impression that the food will be old, traditional, and potentially stale. The second scheme would work better in a supermarket but may still make customers uneasy. Pure white, while moderately easy to maintain in a small store, is hard to maintain in a large shop with high footfall.
Product labelling is an area that can make a big difference in the perceived value of your products. Much like in-store decor, labelling determines what your products are worth and how good value shoppers perceive them to be.
Red, as well as being a “danger” colour, will make things seem more exciting, interesting and urgent. Yellow, while still striking, is a friendlier and cheaper colour. Black, by contrast, makes things seem classier and higher-value.
The size of the label also determines the value of the product — customers will perceive a product with a larger label to be better value than an identical product with a smaller label.
Fonts are also key to how a brand is perceived — they can determine whether a store is seem as modern or traditional, budget or upmarket. Handwriting-style font on labels can make stores seem smaller, more local, and friendlier, gaining goodwill from shoppers.
Many shoppers take their ideal of the “value” of a product from their first impression of the label rather than the label’s actual price. Many shoppers need reading glasses but won’t always have their reading glasses with them, meaning that some prices are guesses — especially if the currency symbol on the label is far smaller than the numbers.
Many shoppers also don’t have the headspace to do the maths of special offers while they are in the supermarket — working out whether £5 for 6 or 85p each is a good deal or a bad deal isn’t easy to do in the spur of the moment.
While shoppers might feel that they decide how they perceive a product, utilising colouring in your store can give customers a new perspective on products.