Palmer Retail Solutions Blog

Why are Sales Signs Red? A Guide to Color Psychology in Retail

Posted by Kathy Heil on May 2, 2018 11:19:04 AM

Have you ever noticed that every sale sign you've ever seen in a store is red? Why is that? Or perhaps you’ve never consciously noted the red color, but you certainly noticed the sale sign. You probably headed right over, or mentally bookmarked the location for a later look-see as you’re browsing. That’s color psychology in action.

So, what is it about red that makes it such an effective color for sale signs?

Colors Trigger Emotions

The fact that color affects how we feel has been documented, repeatedly. And since the way customers feel about your store and specific products heavily influences their desire to investigate and buy, clever use of color can dramatically boost browse time and purchasing. Consider these stats:

Red has Irresistible Stopping Power

When we “see red,” we respond faster and more sharply than to any other color. That’s why roadway stop signs are red. In store, you want shoppers to stop and take note of your sale. So, instead of sparking our fight-or-flight response, sale signs tell us to “act now and save.” We can’t resist.

But, as a color choice for signs, red has a second advantage in that it provides a sharp visual contrast to your branded colors, which permeate your store. Obviously, signage cannot stand out and beckon customers if it blends in. (Yes, Target’s logo and branding feature red, but for the vast majority of retailers, the emotional impact of red does not fit their brand or the comfort level they want customers to experience.)

That said, red elevates heart rate, which is why we associate it with passion. And — restaurateurs and other food retailers, take note — red increases appetite.

What Do Other Colors Say To Us?

Color psychology affects every detail of your store, not only your signs. That includes your overall branding. When you know how different hues affect people, you can offer both obvious and subtle color cues throughout your store to draw people in the door, encourage them to linger and browse, zero in on featured merchandise, and snap up impulse items.

For example:

  • Blue evokes trust and reliability
  • Yellow implies warmth and optimism
  • Pink is relaxing
  • Purple speaks of wisdom and creativity
  • Orange is friendly, cheerful, and confident
  • Green suggests good health and peace
  • Gray is balanced (neutral) and calming

Of course, how we feel about colors is far more complex than that. You can take a deep dive into color psychology for marketing and branding here. And remember that consumer psychology affects more than the colors you use. Even your store’s fixtures can subtly (and not-so-subtly) affect a shopper's experience and response. In fact, 52% won’t be back if they don’t like your store’s aesthetic presence.

It literally pays to understand how colors affect buying behavior. So take a look around your store. If you’re in the mood to lift sales and customer experience, perhaps it’s time for a new palette.eBook Download Retail Psychology

Topics: Retail Experience

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