The one major psychological influence that all retailers can and do, is to make use of color. Color can be everything to a successful store, if palettes work well across the whole shop and complement other elements, such as product displays and lighting. The point isn't about creating the most beautiful shop, but one that has coherence.
Think about how the warm colors used in the design of the reception area
for Salon 01 in Indianapolis welcome and embrace the client in the
Color is central to coherence because we react instinctively to it. Red means "stop" and green means "go." Our brains are hot-wired to respond to color, and for modern retailers, the trick to using color is to understand both its physiological and psychological influences.
We react fundamentally to colors because they help us make sense of our surroundings; indeed, some 80 percent of information reaches our brains via our eyes. It means that we are instinctively more comfortable when colors remind us of something familiar. For example, a soft shade of blue triggers associations with the sky and a psychological sense of calm. Prisons and hospitals now use color to influence the behavior of inmates and patients.
With children, color associations are still being formed, which is why youngsters respond best to bright primary colors. Bold colors are the color of most toys, clothes and children's books—and the color schemes of the most successful kids' retailers.
Color psychology perhaps explains why people are allegedly more relaxed in a green room and why weightlifters perform better in blue gyms. It's certainly the reason some paint manufacturers now have color cards setting out the therapeutic aspects of each color, and why some cosmetic companies have introduced 'color therapy' ranges.
We all share similar responses to color, although some cultural variations exist. For example, white is the color of marriage in Western societies, but it is the color of death in China. In Brazil, purple is the color of death. Yellow is sacred to the Chinese, but signifies sadness in Greece and jealousy in France. People from tropical countries respond most favorably to warm colors, while people from Northern climates prefer cooler colors.
Our heart rate and blood pressure rise when we look at intense reds; conversely, we can become tired or anxious by looking at large areas of bright whites or grays. In a retail environment, understanding those responses can be crucial to enticing that customer inside, and then enticing them to open their wallet or purse.
To make things more complicated, the success of a retail store isn't so much influenced b the chosen color scheme, but by how their target customers react to it. Is the store aimed at teenagers? Thirty-somethings? Senior citizens? The success of the store depends on how the customer reacts to both the products on display and the sales environment. Younger people like the energy of bold colors; older people prefer more subtle palettes. Get those colors wrong, and a retailer will find that their customers simply won't relate to their brand.
Color association also extends into food retailing. For example, fast-food restaurants are decorated in vivid reds and oranges. These are colors that encourage us to eat quickly and leave—exactly what the fast-food operator wants us to do. Luxurious brands, on the other hand, favor softer colors and browns that appear more sophisticated. In fine dining restaurants, those are the colors that are more conducive to hunger, encourage us to linger, and to order another drink or coffee.
A wider shot of Salon 01 lets you examine how color is used in the color
department, waiting, and retail areas.
Creating strong and effective color associations is about using every surface to convey the brand message, and that includes floor coverings. In some retail environments, it really does start from the floor upwards, because colors, if required, can enhance mood or change special awareness.
For example, lighter floor colors can make a smaller room appear larger and a dark floor color will make a room appear more intimate. Combined with wall paint colors, a short narrow room can be transformed by matching light colors to deeper color on the short walls and lighter color on long walls.
Some retailers are now using colors to influence patterns of travel around the store—particularly from the crucial zone just inside the shop entrance, often referred to as the compression or transition zone—the place where customers first orientate themselves with what's inside. Here, color is being used to subtly 'direct' shoppers deeper into the store or, by using different colors and patterns, create subconscious walkways that shoppers tend to follow.
By recognizing how color influences us, retailers are better able to induce feelings of warmth, intimacy or serenity—or, by using more vibrant palettes to excite or stimulate. It's about understanding target markets, the product lines to appeal to them and the kind of brand the retailer wants to convey. Lastly, it's about conveying that brand through color and design.
As with everything, creating that perfect palette is about balance between strong colors, sophisticated neutrals, and subtle textures. It's about creating style and projecting a corporate image that resonates with customers. It's about using the walls and the floor to help create a coherent image.
Salon design influences your customer's behavior. The primary design objective is to create and implement a design that combines the physical rejuvenation with an emotional space. Achieving a powerful experience. As a result, it creates an environment that is conducive to buying and maximizing the potential of the salon business.
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Leon Alexander is president of Eurisko, a comprehensive design, consulting and distribution source servicing the salon and spa industry. He holds a Ph.D. in behavioral psychology.
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