How color theory can influence your customers

Color theory is super important. When used right, it can greatly influence how you feel and your decision-making. It happens all the time. And yes, even to you and me. Here's how color theory can affect your customers.

How color theory can influence your customers

In this article, we will look at several color theory best practices to use in your (online) store. If you implement these well, you're likely to see an increase in conversion rates or customer happiness.

We'll discuss three examples: color contrast, light use, and common popular colors. Let's get started!

How color theory can influence your customers

Making strategic use of color contrast and light are two of the main ways how color theory can influence your customers. You can apply this in-store and for your customers browsing an e-commerce webshop.

When done well, you do not notice how color theory influences you. Let's take a closer look at a few examples to better understand the influence of color theory on how we purchase things.

Color contrast

Let's start with color contrast. If you design your store or website to have a lot of similar and very calm colors, except for one element, that particular element will stand out.

Picking an element strategically will help your conversion rates. For example, you can influence your customers by highlighting the 'add to card' button or some key features of your product.

But what color to pick? A safe bet is to pick yellow. Did you know that our eyes notice the color yellow first? Out of all colors, yellow has a relatively long wavelength. If you combine that with its brightness, yellow really catches your eye.

It means that yellow is an excellent choice if you want something to stand out. However, there's an even better color. And that's orange.

By combining the primary colors yellow and red, you can mix orange. It combines the very in-your-face characteristics of yellow with the actionable associations of red, which make orange the perfect call-to-action color.


Examples of how color theory can influence customers at large retailers

Looking at big retailers Amazon and Bol (Dutch), you'll notice that both have very calm websites without too many accent colors. However, there's one thing that stands out, and that's the add-to-cart button. It's not a coincidence that both use yellow and orange colors to make the main call-to-action stand out.

Use of light in supermarkets

The influence of light in supermarkets is huge on customers. There are numerous examples of how color theory can influence your customers here.

For example, if you have LEDs in store, you can use cool colors to make certain products look fresher. At the same time, you could use the opposite colors of certain products to make these products stand out more.

Use a very subtle purple light in high contrast to bananas to make these bananas look super vibrant and healthy, for example.

The influence of different background colors on products

Take a look at the image above. You can see that the banana to the left, which is positioned on a neutral background, looks worse than the one on the right. However, the image to the right is quite the opposite.

Another common example of how color theory can influence supermarket customers is how steak and other meat are put on green pieces of paper to make the red color of the meat stand out more.

And finally, research has found that using natural light can increase the average number of products sold per customer in a supermarket.

Use the most common favorite color

Did you know that blue is a very popular color? This international survey found that blue is the most popular color according to people asked in multiple countries. And according to color theory, there are a lot of reasons why blue is such a popular color.

Normally, we would be skeptical as the meaning of color can differ from culture to culture. However, this survey was conducted across multiple continents, showing similar results on each continent.

Using someone's favorite color puts your customer at ease. If you know what the most common favorite color within your target audience is, you can use that to influence your customers greatly. Blue is a good guess, as blue is the most popular favorite color in the world, but do your own research!


If you strategically use color theory, you can influence your customers tremendously. You can use color theory to highlight the important parts of your business and help guide your users through it. Here's how.

Nick Groeneveld

About the author

Nick Groeneveld


Hi! I'm Nick Groeneveld. As a senior designer, working with color theory has become my second nature. In recent years, I've helped companies improve their websites and apps by making better use of color theory.