Retailers Are All About That Yellow

Emma Stevens

I’m sure most of us agree that the colour yellow packs quite a visible punch. It’s bright, it’s eye-catching, and one of the most visible colours on the spectrum. Interestingly, a lot of people will actually see yellow before they see any other colour, and when it’s combined with black, it’s a knock-out combination.   Take the iconic New York cab for instance. Bright yellow and visible from a distance; it’s hard not to focus your eyes on the bright shiny vehicle sporting such a loud hue.

For retailers, it’s equally striking. The colour yellow is known as a tried and trusted selling tactic on promotional displays. Just like red, it captures people’s attention, creates a sense of urgency and “tells” shoppers this is a deal that they do not want to miss!   The impact of product and label visibility is a crucial part of shopper behaviour, with the possibility to convert a shopper that is “just looking” to a shopper thinking “I have to have that!”   It does beg the question, why are 75% of the pencils sold in America painted Yellow?

Anyhow, don’t just take our word for it, shopper behaviour experts have told us for years that the more visible the product, the more likely we are to buy it. According to Lars Perner, a professor at the University of California at Riverside, “The best suggestion I can offer cart managers to increase impulse buys is visibility. It is the most important factor because you see the products as you walk through the store. You will also see a lot more of the merchandise than what’s in the windows of traditional stores. Those stores have to compete for attention, both with the kiosks and the store windows on the other side of the mall.”  

Of course, colour is one of the big players in the visibility game to draw in customers. According to Leatric Eiseman, author of ‘The Pantone Guide to Communicating with Color’,”It’s not just the numbers or words on your sign that can draw customers. Color can draw them in and keep them focused on the product.” In her book, Eiseman specifically calls out yellow and black, stating that bright yellow has been proven to be the most visible color. “When humans see those colors together, they usually have an instinctive reaction.” Eiseman likens yellow (and black) to an ancient collective memory of predatory animals. Of course, if you’ve ever been shopping on a Black Friday, you know that it’s a little like a wild jungle, so the comparison is very real!   In our last blog, I talked about the psychology behind the colour red, and the effect it has on shopper behaviour, citing a recent article by Phillip Adcock, customer behaviour expert and shopper psychologist. In his article about the psychology of in-store promotions, Adcock talked about how different grocery retailers used colour on their shelf labels, namely red and yellow, to create a sense of urgency in a multi-buy promotion for the same chilled choice at four different major grocery retailers in the U.K. during the same sales period.  

In the comparison, Tesco and Asda both utilised the colour yellow (along with red and black) to boldly promote the offering, also using the placement of the promotional price as part of the overall “design of the label”. In the article, Adcock discusses why retailers should look beyond the economics of the actual price of a product in-store, instead focusing on the psychological influence and promotional ticket (or label) design. According to the article, Adcock was able to deduce the impact of shoppers’ resulting purchases due to how each individual ticket is psychologically perceived by shoppers. A testament to just how crucial colour, specifically the strategic use of yellow (and Red), can be in the grand scheme of retail promotions.  

Just recently at the SID Display Week 2015 conference, we announced the industry’s first yellow EPD electronic shelf label (ESL) in partnership with E Ink. This now gives our retail customers another colour option for their digital displays – black, yellow and ‘paper-white’ (in addition to our existing three-colour ESLs, featuring black, red and ‘paper-white’).   As we’ve explored in this blog, the addition of yellow to our ESLs will help direct consumers’ attention to important product information, sales and promotions. The yellow displays also offer yet another differentiator for retail organisations to draw customers into the store, creating a unique shopping experience that will ultimately increase sales.   A closing thought: “Yellow shines with optimism, enlightenment, and happiness”.  

Sarah Todd Marketing Manager Displaydata

About Displaydata

Our Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) bring the shelf-edge into the Internet of Things era, helping to create shopping experiences that are more engaging, rewarding and personalised – and profitable. We help retailers optimise sales and margin at the shelf-edge, where 90% of purchases are still made.

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