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Consumer behaviour and visual experiences

Over the past years, consumer psychology has emerged as a new hot topic which tries to explain the relationship between consumer behaviour and visual merchandising. Certain factors such as colour psychology, emerging digital trends, and emotional design can all play a major role in the buying experience.

We’re all visually wired

Human beings are, and have always been, predominantly visual. We instinctively respond better to images than to words and the proof is in our physiology:

These are all evidence that we live in a predominantly visual society because we are, simply put, visual creatures. We are not a product of our environment. The environment is, in fact, a product of who we are.

Having said that, it is only natural for us to engage and bound much much more with visual content. This is predominantly noticed in the decision-making process a consumer goes through.

Product and branding colours affect decision-making

We know colour psychology is not an exact science and can never be. Same colours might not evoke the same feelings in 2 different people because of differences in culture, taste or context. However, numerous studies have shown that colours do have a big influence on how we perceive and react to our environment especially when it comes to purchasing a product. Shoppers can make quick judgements about a product in only 90 seconds, and 90% of them will base this perception purely on colour.

Certain brands understand the need for customers to visualize and customise products before purchase. One example is Tesla, which has integrated a design studio on their website which can be used to select paint and interior colours, alongside other options like roof and wheel types, and see the result on screen. Other companies such as Nike or Adidas have approached the same method.

Impulse buying is driven by visual influencers

In order to address impulse buying behaviour, we need to check some statistics:

  • More than 70% of consumers make their choice of daily commodities in-store,

  • 85% of purchases are made without having picked up any other alternative

  • 90% make a purchase only after examining the front of the packaging and without having the product in the hand.

The truth is, people simply choose with their eyes and the old statement  ‘’what you see is what you get” should now be “what you see is what you choose”. Visual stimuli at a point of sale will influence consumers’ intention to buy.

At a very basic level, the best way to get someone to engage and eventually buy your product is to make sure they’ll be the first product to see. Shoppers are more likely to make an impulse buy if they can see the item easily from the aisle.

Big brands such as Sephora capitalizes on this trend with interactive digital displays situated around the shop and by the checkout line. Customers who are waiting to check out can also browse their online catalogues of products which encourage last-minute purchases and generate an extra boost in sales.

Visual aesthetics can appeal to customers’ emotions

While impulse purchases are typically inexpensive items bought without much forethought, expensive purchases relate to a more emotional decision-making process. This means that high-end brands need to focus a lot more on how they present their products, both in-store and online. Certain visuals help create a brand identity which attracts a specific type of consumer and connect the consumer emotionally with your brand.

Fashion retailer Burberry is a great example of a high-end company which builds its story through carefully created visuals in order to evoke certain feelings in their customers. Their Instagram supports a relatively strong image that is synonymous with quality, style and elegance. Beautiful craftsmanship is contrasted with form and function and it exudes sophistication and elegance. People use this brand because it associates them with confidence and sophistication.


We are hardwired to engage and recognise visual content much more than any other content. Because of that, there is a high emphasis on how brands create visual experiences for their customers in order to emotionally connect with them.  Are you ready to create your visual experience?

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