How Color Affects Your Spending

Find out which colors are subconciously associated with certain feelings, and how that affects how much you spend at the mall.

  • Yelena Moroz Alpert

At the mall, you’ll spot nearly every shade of the rainbow on signs, labels, doors, shopping bags—you name it. But did you know that those colors may have been strategically placed to influence your spending? Marketing experts say that people subconsciously associate specific colors with specific social or cultural messages. Knowing this, retailers carefully select the colors they use in an effort to get you to loosen your purse strings. Here, experts explain how 10 different shades affect your purchasing habits.
 

Black

The signature color of sophistication (hello, little black dress), it dominates high-end makeup packaging and can even make inexpensive blushes and lipsticks seem more upscale.
 

Blue

Most everyone likes blue. No wonder it connotes trust and dependability and is a favorite logo color for financial institutions seeking to make people feel secure. Blue can improve customer loyalty, too: Patrons are 15 percent more likely to return to stores with blue color schemes than to those with orange color schemes, according to a 2003 study published in the Journal of Business Research.
 

Burgundy

This color reminds us of all things rich and refined (think red wine), so don’t be surprised if the Merlot duvet cover you covet costs more than a white one in a similar style. Its prismatic cousin, brown, has similar connotations of luxury.
 

Green

Retailers often employ this color to attract eco-minded clients. But remember: Just because an item is green doesn’t mean that it’s environmentally friendly.
 

Orange

The color is associated with fairness and affordability, which is why you’ll find it at stores offering good value, like Home Depot and Payless.
 

Pink

This sweet color—in particular, a shade close to bubble gum—has calming effects, according to research published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Psychiatry. Scientists found that seeing pink slows people’s endocrine systems and tranquilizes tense muscles. How that might influence your wallet: Feeling relaxed may make it less painful to part with cash.