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Impact of Color Packaging on Purchasing Decisions

by Janet Freund  |   Feb 25, 2021


Do you find yourself wondering why customers buy that product instead of yours? Yours has great quality. You have researched and verified your ingredient claims. You have amazing customer experiences to share. Yet, your target customer still chooses another product.

Have you considered that what might be affecting the customers’ decisions is color?

Englishman Sir Isaac Newton first described the science of observable color in the late 1600s, publishing his discoveries in Optiks, in 1704. A century later, the German-born Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe published his Theory of Colors in 1810. His many experiments established the effects of colors on people’s actions and emotions. Then modern consumerism and the science of marketing took off. Conversations about color soon become one of the most vital components in making decisions about products, their packaging, and their advertising.

Here’s why.

Color evokes feelings

People conduct research and gather data before they buy, but at the end of the day they buy based on emotion. Numerous studies document how people correlate colors with feelings - both positive and negative. Because of this, packaging color schemes can induce emotions and attitudes about the product even if the consumer knows nothing about the product. This impacts purchasing behavior.

Show people burgundy, they generally think refined. Show them black, they think sophisticated. Show them green and they think eco-conscious. If they see blue, they are inclined to trust. So, using color to create positive feelings helps consumers make decisions between product choices.

Here are some interesting statistics on the power of color in consumer purchases.

  • Some 85% of customers cite color as the primary reason for their purchase decision.
  • 75% percent of snap judgments about consumer products are based on color, according to an article in Inc. Magazine. Especially in the absence of information about product differences, people will choose a product based on the attractiveness of the packaging.
  • Brand and logo recognition is enhanced 80% simply by adding color. (Think advertising in black and white vs. advertising in color. It’s easier to remember color.)

AdobeStock_276517043Color drives purchasing behavior

So, what does this have to do with your sales growth? Do feelings affect purchasing? Answer: OF COURSE.

In the research studies, not only does color affect a purchase choice, 66% of consumers say that if the color they want is not there, they won’t buy at all from that vendor.

Color can also be used to signal to a customer which products are yours (easily picking your brand out on a crowded shelf), which products are part of a specific product line (like regular vs. organic, calming vs. energetic), and which products represent a particular scent or flavor. It’s all to help the customer make choices easier.

While sources vary on the exact percentage, several surveys show that over 50% of purchasing decisions are made in-store, thus not planned or researched. Consequently, catching the shopper's eye and conveying information effectively are critical to successful sales.


Color Communicates/ Creates Expectations

Color use in products and packaging is not just about influencing the purchase decision though. Color is also highly useful in communicating attributes or setting expectations that lead to greater customer satisfaction. Color can be used to help someone decide what to purchase by helping them easily identify what will serve them best.

  • Red is a reliable packaging draw for the end buyer who is seeking high energy or an edge up.
  • Blue resonates with those seeking the opposite. Blue tends to dispel energy, especially nervous energy or anxiety. It attracts those seeking calm and security.
  • Green never fails to appeal to those who value environmentally friendly products. It’s also recognized by consumers as the go-to color for a call-to-action.
  • Orange also grabs attention. The fact that it’s used less often gives it a boost in standing out. Those expecting a light-hearted or pleasant outcome (some might say fun, or spicy) find appeal from orange in the packaging.

A caution, however; color is subjective and in many cases influenced by culture. If you test a different audience, in different countries and with varied cultural circumstances, the same response to color cannot be guaranteed. Color that works well in the U.S. may not work as well in China.

In certain situations, colors carry an expectation for what the customer will experience, especially when the experience is sensory or related to a physical outcome in using the product.

Scent packaging is usually matched with their related colors in nature because, well, doing anything else just wouldn’t make sense. Lavender scent is too closely associated with its pale purple flower to be packaged in orange. Pine and eucalyptus fall in the spectrum of green. Customers intuitively expect a color and scent to match and may reject a product when they don’t. A green candle should not smell like pumpkin spice.

Similarly, it’s no surprise that high energy drink bottles, caps, and labels use colors that are bold, bright, and often red, which of course is the go-to, high-energy color. The customer sees the “hot” colors, expects the buzzed response, receives what he or she anticipated, and has a boost in customer satisfaction. If a calming product was packaged in similar “hot” colors, the outcome would not match the expectation, leaving customers confused.

The color white in packaging cues up expectations of purity and simplicity of ingredients. If a scent is involved, the expectation is something light like vanilla, lily, or a hint of citrus and cucumber.

As shown, color can convey a lot of meaning and help a consumer choose your product over another’s.

Some final thoughts on color in packaging

Here’s a few final considerations when using color in your product packaging:

Gender – If you have products that are gender specific, you will naturally differentiate the colors. Be aware that color expectations by gender may be unexpected. A recent study showed females drawn to product colors of blue, purple and green; men were drawn to blue, green and black.

Generations – Your customers’ understandings about color will vary depending on age, education, cultural background, and economic positioning. Pay attention to how your specific target audience understands color.

Competition – Make sure your colors differentiate you from the competition. Looking like someone else only confuses consumers. Use color to stand out on the shelf and support your brand logo.

Color WheelThe opportunity is yours

Hopefully you have seen that color gives you the opportunity to stand out on the shelf, communicate benefits, and sell more. That’s exciting! You’re opening up a whole new level of communication with your customers with greater opportunity to see sales growth. We can’t help but agree with the Inc. Magazine article conclusion that product and packaging colors make more impressions on the buyer than any other communication medium related to what you sell.

For more information on color options in packaging or how Carow Packaging can help you stand out and sell more product, call our Solutions Specialists at 815-455-4600.

Beauty, Essential Oils, CBD, Health & Wellness, Food & Beverage, Packaging

Janet Freund

Author: Janet Freund

Marketing Manager



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