The Value of Color in the Retail Environment



The five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch) guide and direct us in ways we’re often unaware of, and with powers few understand. Happy music has been credited with increased productivity. Hot weather with lethargy. The scent of baking can stimulate the gastric juices, as well has kindle fond memories. Beautiful majestic views are calming and relaxing.

There’s another factor involving vision that should be considered by retailers. Colors. Colors set the mood and can drive emotions. Certain colors can assist with sales on one hand or, on the other hand, mitigate successful selling. What color, what hue, do customers see and feel in your store?

Did you choose a paint scheme, or certain accents, because you saw it at WalMart or Tiffany? Did you consider staff productivity or attention-getting value in your choices? Were you seeking to balance comfort with reassurance? Did the scientific method drive your decision or did you just choose a “pretty” color?

Wavelengths in the yellow band can act as a positively powerful psychological stimulus. However, if the shade is shifted slightly in either direction on the color spectrum, self-confidence can dissipate and result in anxiety; even self-loathing. While blue is the favorite color of most people, yellow is clearly a black sheep.

That said, do you really want blue in a retail environment? Blue’s power in calming, cooling, and relaxing can override the needs of a retailer; especially when sales efforts are driven by calls-to-action and a message of urgency. Blue is pretty and nice, but not the best choice for most retailers. Much the same can be said for green. Yes, they can be fine in the dentist’s office, but probably not the best choice for your store.

Red? Red is synonymous with “Hey you!” and great power. The emotional response to red hues can be overpowering and counterproductive. Great for attention-getting accents and alerts, but perhaps problematic for healthy retailer EBITDA if overused.

Then there’s the color you cannot comfortably join in certain types of poetry, because no other word in the English language rhymes well with “Orange.”

Orange suggests value and inclusiveness. A variety of orange tints, like certain brown tints, can be inviting and evoke feelings of warmth and happiness. Tastefully done accents and wall colors, with proper lighting in burnt orange shades, have been successfully deployed by smart retailers. Those emotions can result in longer customer visits in the retail environment and, thereby, drive purchases.

The moral in this thesis? Don’t choose colors for your business environment using a knee-jerk “Hey, that’s a nice color” approach. Study your needs, study color use, and study colors in the context of power and value. Do this with detailed thought and much consideration. Determine your needs and goals, then use color as a tool to help you achieve your desires.


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Steve provides ghostwriting services that include online articles and White Paper development. Additional writing services include collaborating with clients needing assistance in drafting critical correspondence, and other written works, tailored to specific goals.

Steve is also available as a consultant for businesses needing to identify underlying issues impacting business viability; as well as the development and deployment of solutions necessary to improve profitability, culture, and opportunities.

For further information call: (520) 800-3773

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