The psychology of color in retail business and branding is, more often than not, a very intricate part of a shop`s marketing strategies. Although it cannot be 100% accurate – let`s say that it is impossible for the colour yellow to trigger the same reaction in all potential customers, as it perceived differently by each and every one of them – one can make somehow logical predictions concerning the nuances used in a shop and the type of customers it may attract.

This is the reason why it is paramount for a retailer to consider the issue from multiple perspectives, as color can prove to be both a faithful ally and a sales booster. Of course, such predictions should not be based solely on subjective grounds – such as individual customers` tendencies – but rather on objective grounds, which refer to the location of a store, or in relation to the preference of the customers as a whole, after having analysed this issue carefully – such as the demographic aspect and the psychographic one.

Location and the color map

The physical location of a store is something not only usually unchangeable, but also often unchoosable. Although it doesn`t represent a huge factor of sales, a perfect mixture of colors, set in the perfect place, is very important for any self-respecting retailer, along of the mixture of sounds, scents etc. If the colors you choose help your store to blend in the landscape and to become a part of it, thus rendering people confident in the quality of the shop, more and more people are likely to enter the doors.

For instance, a tiny corner shop in a quiet neighborhood should not avail of  `crazy` colors, like burning red or sparkling yellow, because irrespective of how lovely the combination may seem, it may not be of any conservative local`s liking. For duty-free shops in airports, it is advisable to avail of a wide range of nuances and hues, as visitors come from anywhere and you cannot find any pattern of their preferences. For anything you wish to be eye-catching or attractive, you can use red and pink (but not necessarily together), as these are the most striking hues in the color spectrum.

The demographic and psychographic aspects

The density of the population, as well as their values, virtues, and fears (because this is what psychographics study, after all, social and emotional responses and behaviors) can be easily linked with the science of colors in retail. Customers often associate a certain color with a personality type – or with an element of their personality/daily activity – and this is how the process comes to life. Is it relevant to use a balanced color, such as a shade of gray, in a hectic, overcrowded city, with the hope that balance will be exactly what your customers will be looking for?

What about a store in an amusement park, next to the `Haunted Mansion` section? Colors here can have a double function: to prepare the customers for the following trip in the haunted castle, through many shades of black and purple, and to offer veracity to what is happening around. You should ask yourself – does the color fit and match what is being sold? Can this color trigger a certain reaction, desirable or not? Only by answering this question will you become a successful retailer who knows how to manage color in his shops and avail of it to his or her leverage.

Age and gender – relevant to what extent?

The individuality of each customer is relevant as far as age and gender go. It goes without saying that to some age groups, a color is likely to appeal more than to another, especially if we think of the younger generation of consumers. Children are often the decisive factor in their parents` shopping, because who could ever resist a sad, crying kid who wants, explicable or not, a specific product whose colors appeals to them?

This is why most toys, sweets, games and such other children-related products are usually vividly colored, in a multitude of tones (pinks, reds, purples and yellows), whereas adult-oriented products have more `serious` color patterns, exactly with this purpose in mind: to avoid looking childish or poorly designed. However, age isn`t everything, because we can also distinguish the emotional reactions to color of women versus the ones of men.

If most women prefer colors which inspire sophistication, smoothness and glamor (purple, light pink or blue, golden), men are more inclined towards colors which inspire ruggedness, toughness and modernity (electric blue, wooden tones, black and green). According to recent studies, the most gender-neutral color, which appeals to both sexes, is blue, closely followed by light orange. This classification does not apply only to clothing brands, but also to perfumes, personal hygiene products, stationery and even food and beverages etc.


It is undeniable, therefore, that the colour spectrum plays a great role in retail business and is directly linked to customer preference and tendency.

A skilful retailer should consider several aspects when they choose the colours for their branding, products and store display, such as the physical location of the shop, the density of the population, their tendencies as a whole and the numeric superiority of an age or gender group over the other, along with their aesthetic response. Obviously, colors should not be treated separately, but should rather follow color coordination patterns, because a subtle game of harmony and disorder is, after all, the most appealing visual element of any store.