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Using Color to Improve Sales

Harness the psychology of color to turn shoppers into buyers.

Now, here’s a bit of powerful science and psychology that can help you improve your online sales and boost your profits: The power of color.

When it comes to merchandising, most big businesses and high-powered PR firms recognize the impact color can have upon shopping and buying. Take a note from the big players and discover how our favorite hues can enhance your shoppers’ experiences, translating into increased sales for you.

How does color matter?

Colors stir impulses and promote responses in people, compelling them to take action to satisfy a want or need. In the world of food marketing, for example, color is paramount in ensuring customer satisfaction and satiation. According to statistics gathered by the folks at, colors incite reactions and impart perceptions in each of us:

  • Elegance is often communicated through the use of shiny black.
  • Mystery is often communicated through the use of violet.
  • Neutrality is often communicated through the use of gray tones.

And, when it comes to serving the genders, the findings show:

  • Women prefer red.
  • Men prefer blue.

To this end, it makes sense to utilize the appropriate color, in various hues and textures, to properly market your items to a specific gender. It’s clear that color can sway thinking, change opinions and trigger desired reactions. Color is all around us in our lives, and the savvy seller who harnesses its benefits can gain impressive results through its use.

It’s practically scientific… and it works!

Sometimes a color is selected for the sole purpose of drawing attention to a product. This is when red or yellow may be used

Sometimes a color is selected for the sole purpose of drawing attention to a product. This is when red or yellow may be used. But you can also attract attention by using a combination of colors. For instance, Stagg® Chili uses a black background with gold letters. The cereal brand Total® creates eye-catching appeal with a blue package and a red logo.

Color can also be used to relate to a particular product or service. Consider the Green Giant® products. Its packages are set in a white background with the famous green logo. Healthy Choice® is another example of the use of green. Both brands are trying to emulate freshness or healthiness. Green does the job. Root beer is sold using packages created in brown shades. A&W® is a perfect example, using brown and orange.

The personality of colors

So with all that said about how colors can have a positive impact on your online listing designs, here’s what researchers have found about the different colors and the impact of each.

  • Blue — As already mentioned, men prefer this color. It’s a color that can suggest coolness (both in terms of temperature and temperament), and it has an extremely versatile spectrum, from soft baby blue to a mysterious and compelling midnight richness.
  • Yellow — This is a warm and advancing color, and has been proven to actually elevate blood pressure in humans. It’s a pleasant color, though, suggesting warmth, brightness, cleanliness and happiness.
  • Red — If you want to know why police officers tend to pick out red vehicles from the multitude of cars, this is why: This color is the attention-getter. Of course, it’s the least temperate of the colors and, along with blue, it’s another top choice among men when it comes to their vehicles. Of course, it also embodies sensuousness, and even sexual appeal and intrigue.
Orange is perfect for appealing to buyers who anticipate holidays, family gatherings and a shared feast
  • Green — If good health and a fresh vitality are the order of the day, here’s the color for your marketing campaign. Notice how green is liberally utilized in the marketing of health food products, fresh produce and environmental awareness.
  • Brown — This one can go either way. It certainly embodies a sense of earthiness that can communicate naturalness, wholesomeness and rustic appeal. On the other hand, it can also denote a nostalgic quality. As it is complementary in nature to gold, it can also suggest an air of richness or value when used in conjunction with a soft dose of yellow (as in “golden brown”).
  • Black — Also as noted prior, black indicates richness, expensive appeal and well mannered sophistication. As a background color to provide the ultimate accentuation, black (and black velvet texture) is always a good choice. While a foreground color of white can be a bit too much of a stark contrast, yellow, red and some lavender tones are nicely set off by black. Watch out for using dark blue text on a black background; the effect can impart a weird sort of 3D effect but can also cause quick eyestrain.
  • Orange — This is, naturally, the color of fall, of coziness and of bountiful harvests. Orange is perfect for appealing to buyers who anticipate holidays, family gatherings and a shared feast. Add a bit of brown to it to gain a golden, rich appeal.

As in all things, moderation is the key

With this information, you can now begin to plan how you’ll put color to work for you in your online sales efforts. Take care, though, as you explore the potential colors in your product listings: Too much of a good thing can go bad.

To prevent overdoing it, limit yourself to just a few key colors, set off against a black or white background. Use color as an accent in your product listings or advertisements, where a nicely designed color logo or a well placed color splash can have dramatic effect among the standard neutral white palette of the site.

Most important, as you utilize color in your listings, try to establish a consistent color scheme—in a logo or other design element—that will help customers begin to identify you and your business. Look closely at other big businesses as well as the products you purchase every day or every week. See how color plays an important part in promoting the product and how it compels you to identify and purchase it. Use this same psychology of color in your online sales efforts, and you’ll be coloring your own world in bankable shades of green.

About the author

Dennis L. Prince
Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay...and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

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