[FREE ebook] The power of color in international ecommerce

Colour may be your first act of ecommerce persuasion. Colour is more than hues, Pantones, tints and shades. It has to do with the psychology and power of marketing.

Did you know that our brains process visual content 60,000 times quicker than words? Are you aware that colour increases brand recognition by 80%?

For over 90% of people, colour is crucial when it comes to making purchasing decisions. So the way you use colours may affect your online business and your sales.

In this article you’ll learn about:

  • The power of colour in international ecommerce: how colour, persuasion and online purchases are interrelated
  • The difference between colours preferred by men and women
  • The differences in perception of various colours across countries.

FREE ebook: use colour to your ecommerce advantage

colour marketing

Colour and persuasion

Imagery and colours are a vehicle to generate interest and emotional responses. Colours may help you determine how to sell products online successfully.

Think about how particular colours are associated with holidays, festivals and rituals: you may be more successful offering red and pink dresses around Valentine’s Day as opposed to blue and black ones.

The choice of colour for ecommerce purposes  is strictly related to a number of  factors:

  • Individual preferences
  • Cultural differences
  • Upbringing
  • Experience
  • Context
  • Related emotions.

The perception of colour is subliminal, subconscious and up to 90% of snap judgements about products can be based on colour alone.

As a study carried out by the Seoul International Expo sets out, 92% of people report that colour plays a crucial role when making a purchase. For 6% the sense of touch is important. Smell and hearing are rated as essential by 1% of people, unless they are buying music or perfume.

The colour must match the brand, its message and what is being sold. Simple and bright colours are vibrant, intense and attraction grabbers, e.g. Toys R Us and McDonald’s. Sophisticated colours, on the other hand, bring to mind elegance and intimate communication, e.g. Tiffany or Armani.

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Colours and ecommerce purchases & shoppers

On the basis of a study published in the Journal of Business Research, buyers are 15% more likely to return to a shop with blue colour schemes as opposed to their orange counterparts. If you use blue for online business, it can improve your customer loyalty.

If you focus on loyal customers as opposed to quick one-off deals, blue is the colour of trust and dependability.

Colours attract specific types of shoppers. According to Kissmetrics:

  • Red, orange, black and royal blue attract impulse shoppers: good for fast food, outlet malls and clearance sales
  • Navy blue and teal attract shoppers on a budget: good for banks and larger department stores
  • Pink, sky blue and rose attract traditional buyers: good for clothing stores.

Research shows that more extraordinary and unique colour names are prefered and can increase the likelihood of a purchase immensely.

In other words, we feel more tempted by the colour “mocha” as opposed to “brown”, even though they’re basically the same colour.

Ecommerce tip
Choose more memorable and descriptive names to classify the colour of your item, especially if you sell clothes. For instance, “sky blue” is a better option than “light blue”.

Colour in ecommerce: which button colours convert better?

The discussion about the best colours for buttons, e.g. those which maximize conversions, is a hot topic. For instance, Unbounce predicted that the future of call-to-action buttons is BOB (Big Orange Button).

A lot of colours have been AB-tested: red, green, blue, orange and so on. There are many colour-related associations, for instance green tends to bring to mind positive emotions and a “green light” is a sign for a driver to GO. Red, in turn, is mostly associated with negative emotions: it’s a sign for the driver to STOP.

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However, colour makes little difference on its own. In fact, you need to consider how the colour changes the visual hierarchy of the whole page. You need to take into account how it makes the call-to-action stand out. Additionally, there are other elements to consider, for instance wording on the button.

There’s NO best colour for conversions. There’s no generalization or golden rule that can be given.

Sometimes it’s about common sense. If your website’s dominant colour is, let’s say, green and your buttons are green too, they won’t stand out. You can expect that the green-green combination will affect your conversions in a negative way. A more sensible way would be to go for a brighter colour for your buttons.

Does it make a difference what colours you sell to men & women?

Yes, it does. There are colour preferences among genders. Generally, men prefer brighter colours and women fancy softer colours. Additionally, men are more likely to like shades (colours with black added) and women tints of colours (with white added).

According to the charts below:

  • Blue is the favourite colour among both genders.
  • Women like purple as opposed to men who fail to list it as a top colour.
  • For feminine products avoid gray, orange and brown, instead blue, purple and green should be quite appealing.
  • For male products avoid purple, orange and brown, focus on blue, green and black instead.

ecommerce men favourite colour

ecommerce men not favourite colour

ecommerce women favourite colour

ecommerce women least favourite colour

Source: Joe Hallock

How do we perceive colours?

Let’s take yellow, a happy colour, as an example. 75% of pencils sold in the US are yellow. It is also the first colour perceived by our retinas: a useful fact if you need a real attention grabber.

A quick recap of the emotional meaning related to specific colours:

  • Yellow: optimistic, clear, warm
  • Orange/peach: friendly, cheerful, confident
  • Deep orange: energetic, stimulating
  • Red: exciting, young, bold
  • Bright red: carefree, passionate, sexy, stimulating, dangerous
  • Purple: creative, imaginative, wise, sophisticated
  • Light blue: balanced, neutral, calm
  • Blue: trustworthy, strong, reliable
  • Green: peaceful, healthy, growth
  • Black: power, luxury.

Of course, colour is a matter of individual experience to a large extent. Still, its choice plays an important role when branding and motivating a particular type of buyer. Choosing a colour associated with your brand is of crucial significance.

Perception of colour across cultures

Given colours aren’t perceived in the same way across the globe. For instance, blue, the American corporate colour, is seen as cold and evil in East Asia. See below and check how different colours are perceived in various countries. Some facts may truly surprise you.


  • Holland: warmth, femininity
  • Sweden: coldness, masculinity
  • Iran: death
  • India: purity
  • The US: high quality, masculinity
  • China, Korea, Japan: high quality.


  • Germany: unlucky, negative
  • Denmark, Romania & Argentina: lucky
  • China: lucky, a bride’s colour, love
  • The UK: masculinity
  • France: masculinity
  • India: ambition & desire
  • The US: love.


  • The US: warmth
  • France: infidelity
  • Germany: envy & jealousy
  • Russia: envy
  • China: happy, pleasant, good taste, progressive, authority, royalty & trustworthiness.


  • Japan: love, happiness, good taste & adventure
  • The US: envy, good taste, adventure
  • Belgium: envy
  • China: sincere, trustworthy, dependable.


  • Mexico: envy
  • Japan: sin, fear, expensive
  • China: love, expensive
  • The US: love, inexpensive.


  • India: dullness, stupidity
  • Western cultures: grief, sadness, ceremonial dress for priests, a dress of subservience for waiters and servants
  • Japan: fear, powerful, expensive
  • Germany: fear ,anger, jealousy
  • Mexico: anger, envy, jealousy
  • The US: fear, anger, envy, jealousy, powerful, expensive
  • China: powerful, expensive, trustworthy, high quality.


  • Japan: mourning, death
  • Australia: happiness, purity
  • The US: happiness, purity.

If you sell on international marketplaces, take a closer look at the colours you use for your website and brand image. For example, blue is the corporate colour in the USA, bringing to mind responsible, solid financial services but red will probably win you business in East Asia.

A similar analysis may be useful if you offer items that come in different colours. Think which values and emotions your product should communicate: colour should reveal your product attributes.

colour ecommerce pantone

To learn more about how colours affect online sales, download our FREE ecommerce guide.

Colour in international ecommerce: conclusion

First, 90% of snap judgements about products can be based on colour alone. Thus, the choice of colour may have a big impact on your sales conversions.

Second, different colours communicate different values. For instance, if you’re selling high-end products, black may be a better choice than pink as your signature colour.

Third, if you sell internationally, consider the perception of colour in different countries and cultures.

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