Colour & Shopping

Fashion colours change each season, but why do we choose our favourite colours? And how much do they affect us?

For three busy days Trinity Leeds hosted a group of artists conducted some detailed colour sessions with shoppers during the whole of the bank Holiday weekend. With the help of a specially converted colour caravan - known as the ChromaVan - they gave several hundred shoppers a unique exploration of colour which included research into visitors colour choices.

Impossible Arts brought their colour van into the centre and invited shoppers inside to experience the effects of colour using powerful lighting in an intense 12 minute long 'colour experience'. They also tested many shoppers choice of colour, using a variation of a colour test devised by a Swiss pychologist Dr Lüscher.

Whilst the results confirm some presumptions, they also offer some surprises.

Do all little girls like pink best, and all little boys love blue?

Violet Purple turned out to be the favourite colour for girls under 18 - but only for a third of the total. Magenta Pink was second most popular, and in the top 3 of 63% of young girls.

Blue is the favourite colour for boys under 18 - but they only make up 29% of the total and magenta isn’t far behind.

Do our colour preferences change as we grow up, or are they fixed for life?

Adults do have different colour preference than children, with Red and Blue slumping from the top two to the bottom two between girls and women.

Turquoise blue jumped from 1 in ten to over 4 in ten between boys and adult males.

Which colours are least favourite?

Overall Red was in fewest top 3 choices for women, although it was first choice for just over 1 in 8 women.

For men Orange cropped up least in the top 3. And fewest men chose it as their most favourite colour.

What is the big difference between genders and ages?

Red was in fewest womens top three, with only a quarter selecting it, but was top choice for both girls and boys and in nearly half of all mens top three colours.

What colours do genders share?

For adults Turquoise was the highest common top 3 colour. For children it was clearly red. With Blue and Magenta not far behind.


Colour and Retail

Dr Lüscher hasn’t been the only one to see that colour affects us on a profound level, artists, designers, fashion houses and marketeers all enjoy using colour to stimulate responses, researchers suggesting that it leads to an 80% increase in brand recognition and that certain colours are best suited for particular types of product, eg Blue is often used by financial organisations, but not for food packaging.


Favourite Colours

Psychologists are interested in our colour choices as they tend to be intuitive and so are a short cut to the sub-conscious revealing something of our hidden drives and motivations.

For instance red means danger - it makes us stop, take note, take action. Blue is much calmer and gentler colour - and like the sky feels limitless. People who choose these different colours show us something of their character.


Trinity Leeds

A shopping and leisure centre containing 120 stores over 93,000 m2 (1,000,000 sq ft) of retail floor space under an iconic 40,000 sq ft (3,716 m2) glass dome constructed from nearly 2,000 glass panels that rise 100 ft (30m) above street level.


The ChromaVan

Offers audiences the opportunity to soak themselves in a rainbow of colour, this innovative colour experience in a converted caravan can accommodate groups of up to six and lasts for 12 minutes. It has been presented across Europe including St Patricks Day festival in Dublin, Glasgow Science Centre and even crossed the Alps to an Austrian Street Arts Festival. Audiences have described it as ‘a joy to the soul’.

Max Lüscher

Born in 1923, this a Swiss psychotherapist best known for inventing the Lüscher colour test; a tool for measuring the person's psychophysical state based on their colour preferences. He believed that because the colour selections are guided in an unconscious manner, they reveal the person as they really are, not as they perceive themselves or would like to be perceived.

He believed that personality traits could be identified based on one’s choice of colour. Therefore, subjects who select identical colour combinations have similar personalities. In order to measure this, he conducted a test in which subjects were asked to place colours in order of preference.

Lüscher has advised a range of international companies about the psychology of colour and the effect it has on humans, whilst his book "The Lüscher Test" has been translated into more than 30 languages.