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How colour psychology affects buying decisions in fashion

How much of an impact does colour really have on shoppers’ decision to buy or not buy a product?

Colour psychology is a massive factor in a consumers’ buying process in fashion when looking for clothes. For retailers, shopping is the art of persuasion although there are many factors that influence how and what consumers buy. However, a great deal is decided by visual cues, the strongest and most persuasive being colour.

Colour is usually the number one reason why consumers buy a product whether that may be the mood they’re in, the colour best for their skin tone or simply because it’s their favourite. It is a powerful marketing tool that significantly influences consumer purchases.

More specifically, 85% of consumers cite colour as being the main factor in their decision to purchase a product. Marketers must understand colour psychology in fashion in order to use it effectively to positively affect consumers’ buying decisions and impulses. The majority of consumers say the visual appearance of the product is the most important factor. More-so in fashion as this is the first thing that meets the eye; before the quality of the fabric, detailing and fit.

Using colour to change customer perception:

  1. Green tones – remind consumers of plants and invoke thoughts of nature and serenity.

  2. Sunshine yellow can help create feelings of optimism and happiness.

  3. Orange is associated with warmth, compassion and impulse buys – Whether it’s used in shops layout, signage, marketing material etc, it will draw shoppers’ attention to various areas while encouraging them to take action.

  4. Red is arguably one of the most effective colours to entice shoppers to buy a product. Being bright, bold and visually eye catching, encouraging them to buy. creating a sense of urgency catching consumers attention.

Whereas colour combinations influence buyer moods and emotions. For example, a combination of warm colours like red, yellow and orange is appealing to impulse buyers who tend to respond to perceived urgency. On the other hand, cool colours like pink, navy, and light blue all appeal to budget conscious shoppers. Whom want to make well thought out decisions and remain calm.

Through the colour perception of various different cultures, previous research has concluded that using colours that are associated with something negative will negatively affect the customers’ retrieval cues, therefore repelling them from purchasing the piece of clothing. This could be personal to an individual or a colour greatly used that presents a negative experience. For example, Yellow and black combined could showcase ‘warning’.

Colour influence starting with the brands face

Colour psychology can not only be helpful for the actual products but to increase brand recognition as well. KissMetrics found that the use of colour yields an 80% increase in brand recognition. Colour helps consumers remember retailers and their respective brand elements by eye-catching designs, including brighter colours. A black-and-white logo isn’t exactly memorable, in which consumers may not associate it with the company.

But adding colour into the logo helps to create a stronger and more memorable design, which is critical to achieving a high level of brand recognition. However, contradicting this statement famous designer brands all seem to have recently updated their look to similar black and white chic plain looking logos e.g. Gucci, Balenciaga, Valentino, Nike, Adidas. Pushing the less is more vibe.

Minimalism is a design approach that utilises existing elements, maximising simplicity and capitalising on space. So, does this mean colour psychology in the fashion industry is shifting towards plainer colours to encourage consumers’ buying decisions? This is all down to brand identity which gives them a competitive advantage, colour playing a huge part. The certain colours a brand chooses to use, the ways they are displayed and the way they combine them can have real effects on customers and their buying choices.

Does colour psychology affect Male and Females differently?

Similar to most matters, both the sexes have differing opinions on colour. However, blue seems to be a favourite for both. People associate it with the clear skies, and water – it represents tranquillity.

Research has shown that for females 57% and males by 35%, blue is the most popular colour. Although findings are ambiguous, many investigations have indicated that there are differences between gender in preferences for colours. Some may describe pinks and pastel yellow as more feminine looking on a male, however it presents positivity and provides a flattering look.

Today’s society sees both genders use colour to enhance their visual and aesthetic appearance. The use of colour has become an important expression of who we are, how we feel and what we believe. Human vision and perception contributes to how colour appears to the individual.

Perception is unique to each individual and is constantly changing due to the influence of a range of variables. No two people see colour or experience its effects in the same way, so colour provokes different responses according to various situations.

All this proving that colour psychology in fashion is a big factor in determining why consumers buy particular garments in a certain colour. Of course, there is other psychological factors that work with colour in the buying process. However, colour is higher up due to it being the first visual cue one see’s.


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