The Science of Color Preference

The power provided by a fresh coat of paint is no surprise. As we are currently in the midst of renovation season, homeowners are looking to new colors as a way to transform their living spaces. But with thousands of color options, homeowners often feel overwhelmed by the final selection process and turn to outside resources to help them choose complementary colors for their space. As a way to differentiate your business and create a personal relationship with your customers, adding color selection capabilities to your unique service offerings is a great way to expand your business and provide customers with an in-demand resource. Helping direct your customers to the just-right shades for their home will not only expand on your customer interaction, but can help generate positive word-of-mouth referrals about the quality services your business provides.

The key to being successful in expanding your color capabilities and expertise is to take the time to learn about each customer, examining what it is that makes one individual select a specific color over another. And with the variety of paint color choices available, why is it that one customer is drawn to specific colors while another is drawn to others?

Many times, homeowners are not aware of why they like a color or how certain colors, when paired together, make them feel. Understanding the science behind a customer’s color choice not only leads to a happier customer, but is an important component to better relating to customer behaviors and helping to achieve the functionality, experience and aesthetics that match their needs. Beyond performance factors, consumers often weigh the aesthetics of paint application of great importance. By combining fashion, the science of color choices and forward thinking with coatings that meet critical performance requirements, the painting contractor is positioned to provide a more satisfying customer experience.

Color carries many different associations and operates on many different levels – biologically, emotionally and intellectually. When it speaks, it’s understood individually and universally, overtly and subconsciously. Every color conveys a unique emotion for a consumer. Through a concept known as synesthesia, consumers develop automatic responses to colors based on past experiences. It is that emotional connection that leads to the desired color selections incorporated into specific architecture, giving it personality and mood. While homeowners often choose colors for decorating based on personal taste and sense of aesthetics, many color experts believe colors have an effect on emotions and that it is wise to be conscious of that before settling on a definite color choice.

Feelings stemming from the five senses play a considerable role in color preference. Color has the ability to help you express anything you wish. It can be powerful, soft, energizing or tranquil. Tastes, scents, textures and sounds all ignite unique triggers to stimulate senses and draw homeowners to specific color preferences on a psychological level. Color’s influence on the senses is seemingly limitless – you can feel color.

Start with observation. Take an inventory of the factors that are already center stage in your customers’ homes and lives. For instance, do they appreciate deep, rich colors outside of the home as reflected in the clothes they wear? Or do they enjoy deep rich colors used to decorate restaurants and other people’s homes? Then they will probably also like those same colors in their own homes. The colors they are drawn to are often a reflection of their personality.

The colors you choose define a space and give it personality and mood. Ask your customers to communicate their goals for each room. Colors hold dramatic influence on how we perceive the world around us. For instance, if they look to their bedrooms as an escape for relaxation and restoration, try a green shade. Green fosters peace of mind and seems to balance certain physiological functions, such as heart, lungs and blood circulation, for a calming effect. Or do they use a specific space as a home office? Try a yellow shade, as it promotes productivity and improves memory, judgment and the capacity for decision-making.

A simple way to help your customers interpret feelings associated with specific colors into just the right color palettes for their homes is to direct them to online color tools or mobile applications that help apply deeper, more meaningful consideration of colors that are best-suited for customers’ personality, style and interests. Customized online tools help users overcome the overwhelming feeling of having too many choices.

Color holds a dramatic influence as a business vehicle, from helping customers express their individuality to serving as a method for competitive advantage. Understanding how and why a homeowner selects color has never been more important. Apply the science behind color choices to your business to help your customers feel most comfortable and confident with their color choices.

For information on color apps for your smartphone, visit APC

Dee Schlotter is brand manager for The Voice of Color by PPG Industries. Schlotter brings more than six years of color marketing experience and 12 years of paint experience to The Voice of Color program. Schlotter has a Bachelor of Arts in English and an M.S. in environmental science management. Both degrees have enhanced the creative and science parts of marketing The Voice of Color. Schlotter managed the launch of the Pittsburgh Paints Pure Performance line of environmental paints and is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and of the Color Marketing Group (CMG). For more information on the science of color, visit


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