Color, Consumers and Clicks

Think fast! Which button would you be more likely to click?

According to testing by Hubspot, you are 21% more likely to click on the red button than the green. Think about that for a second. That’s a meaningful difference for just about any type of organization– depending on the context that could be 21% more subscribers, 21% more downloads of an important white paper or even 21% more revenue. Just by changing the color of a button.

Color can have a powerful impact on us and marketers have long understood that consumers rely on color cues when making purchasing decisions. We use color to quickly form powerful, subconscious quality judgments, often within seconds of seeing something for the first time. And, according to work by the Seoul International Color Expo, color can be ten times more important than other senses, like touch or smell, when consumers are choosing what to buy. 

In one real world example ketchup king Heinz put some of this color research to the test. They changed the label color on their “EZ Squirt Blastin'” ketchup bottles from red to green and saw sales increase by $23 million– their highest ever increase. Again, just by changing the color.

What does this mean for displays?

All of this consumer color research got me thinking– how might the color performance of the displays in our favorite devices impact consumer behavior?

Whether we’re buying stuff at Amazon on our tablet, choosing which TV show to watch next on Netflix or interacting with friends on Facebook, our perception of color is confined by the capabilities of the device in front of us. So, how accurately that display represents a given color could affect our decision to click and make a final purchase or not.

Color gamut of iPad mini 3 vs iPad air 2 and the red Hubspot button plotted in CIE 1976

Let’s take the website at the top of the article from Hubspot for example. If you were to view it on two of the most popular tablets on the market today, the iPad mini 3 and iPad air 2 you’d see two very different buttons. On the iPad mini, the button appears more orange than the deep red it’s designed for while the iPad air can display it accurately.

It may seem small but the difference between orange-ish and deep red can dramatically change the associations that consumers draw. It’s the difference between a color consumers say brings up “retro/friendly/inviting” feelings and one that’s “powerful/excited/hot.” It may also be the difference between a sale and no-sale.

Looking forward

Displays are continuously improving. With next generation technologies like Quantum Dots we’ll soon be able to see a lot more colors than the iPads of today can show. I’ve written here already about the upcoming broadcast standard for Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV’s, which can reproduce nearly triple the range of colors found on the iPad mini and show us almost all of the colors found in the natural world. So it’s interesting to imagine the kinds of new experiences that brands could create using the expanded palette of these next generation displays. Can they push the associative power of color even further with hues we’ve never seen on a display before and generate new business opportunities?

Definitely a topic for further research and it will be fun to see how it plays out. In the meantime, check out the color of the “buy now” button” next time you find yourself shopping online and think about how it might be influencing your decision.

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