It was a cold October morning and it was the first day of my first Big Sale in retail.  My district manager came in with a merchandiser from corporate, her hands waving above her head “Where are my beautiful signs?!”

Frustrated, “I’ve been sending you at least an email a day for three weeks letting you know that we have yet to receive a shipment in said three weeks.”

“But you didn’t tell me you didn’t receive the signs!”

To be honest I had seen the signs in the weekly merchandise newsletter, and although absolutely no shipments meant I have received absolutely nothing, I was sort of relieved that the large “beautiful” 35″X48″, tacky in my humble opinion, red signs had not arrived.  She then looked around the store frantically, “Where is the red?  Where is my beautiful red!”

I had placed a few red ‘shelf talkers’ about the store as according to the newsletter, but apparently not enough to her liking.  The merchandiser, whom I had a personal friendship with from the preceeding months, must have noticed my face of utter annoyance as I took a longer sip of my morning latte in order to withhold any output of involuntary input.  “The red is a psychological thing Jess,” as if he read my mind, “I know it looks tacky but red motivates buyers.”  Being an incredibly huge fan of Carl Jung and interior design myself it dawned on me that there was more to merchandising than the aesthetics of order.

By that next morning each and every shelf donned red hanging tags and the new window signs had been overnighted to reveal the big sale.  I can’t say that this particular set up really raised our traffic or conversion rates, but it did spark an entire new interest in my retail career, psychological power over my consumer.

There are many charts and beliefs out there that will tell you that red conjures a sense of urgency while blue is supposed to restore a sense of safety and reliability, but the harsh truth is that due to individual human perspective there is no simple definition or universal mental trigger per color.  In essence it is how you utilize the color.

(Un)Balancing Colors:

  • Colors of similar hues mixed with a splash of a contrasting accents makes for a more visually appealing and welcoming store.  A speciality store may use hues of mocha and taupe along their walls but then utilize a small mural or wall decor with popping colors still in the family of earth tones of bright green and/or plum so to draw the customer in.
  • Contrasting Colors are the most powerful device of attention grabbing.  IKEA and Target use it in their branding.  Blue and Yellow, Red on White.  The subtly of the bright blue creates a popping yellow, the red on the white surface makes for an almost painful beacon of attention.  This is in fact what my district manager was attempting to achieve with the red.  Standing out draws customers in.
  • A Variety of Product Color gives your customer the freedom to choose. As a matter of fact it is your customers past experiences that define the meaning of color to them.  While blue reminds some of comfort and reliability it reminds me of hospitals filled with cold nurses and needles.  So offering your customer the option to choose the product they want in the color they want can make an incredible impact.
  • Bright & Bold in a mall setting is useful to create a stand out appearance, in order to lure customers to walk into your shop.  Bright and bold but yet still balanced and visually appealing.  Vera Bradley does a great job at making her product do the talking with her bright bold patterns that can’t help but to lure in the curiosity of her shoppers.

In the end keep it truly beautiful to add worth and reliability to your brand.  Don’t just utilize the gimmicks without careful thought to a balanced opposition.  (Key Tip: Purchase a color wheel and stick to three colors directly next to each other on the wheel (analogous) colors and the complimentary tone opposite of the center analogous hue for your popping attention grabbing color.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s