Colorful Ways Retailers Get Us to Spend More (Infographic)
Life + Money

Colorful Ways Retailers Get Us to Spend More (Infographic)

Looks like brick-and-mortar retailers have taken a page out of the real estate brokers’ handbook by using special scents to help customers part with a little more cash than they might have intended – especially at holiday time.

Some businesses that are savvy to the science of scent marketing discreetly pump in distinctive aromas to get people to linger longer – or they produce those great smells naturally. The bakery chain Cinnabon, for example, strategically places its ovens at the front of its stores – not at the back – to entice customers with the irresistible smell of cinnamon.

Related: 19 Sweet and Spicy Holiday Food Gifts

One study found that customers spend about 20 percent more when they detect a simple orange scent as they move around a store instead of a more complicated orange-basil scent blended with green tea. The orange scent was more easily processed by customers, researchers at Washington State University and Switzerland’s University of St. Gallen found in 2012.  

But scents are only part of sensory marketing. Color, touch, and music can all play a role in a retailer’s lucrative experience.

Stores often use the color red to convey excitement and passion. “Sale signs are in red, denoting urgency – while many insurance logos are in blue, denoting trust,” explained Kate Stephens, a London-based graphics designer who runs a marketing startup.

Related: Beat the 'Too Tired to Sleep' Holiday Syndrome

Nearly 85 percent of consumers cite color as the main reason they buy a specific product, notes the online publication Small Business Trends. Ads in color are read up to 42 percent more than the same ads in black and white; and when people buy an item, 93 percent are affected by the item’s appearance.

All of which begs the question: Now that marsala – a naturally robust and earthy wine red – has been named color of the year for 2015 by Pantone, how and where will we encounter it in a retail setting? Check out how color plays into our spending:  

The Psychology of Color

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