Science, mystique and a lot of guesswork go into figuring out why some colors make people feel and behave in a certain way. If you’re a business owner, cracking the equation can boost sales of merchandise and services. But Amy Morin, psychotherapist and bestselling author, warns that it’s not that easy. The same color can affect different people in different ways, depending on their ethnicity and past experiences. Research has proved some trends, however.

Red Fires People Up 

Bright colors might not necessarily put your customers at ease, but they may urge them to buy more merchandise. Moran says the color red tends to spur quicker and more emphatic decisions, and those decisions aren’t necessarily based on analytical evaluation. She cites research by University of Rochester professor Andrew Elliot that students do more poorly on tests after being exposed to red. If you want customers to snap up products without weighing the pros and cons, drenching your establishment in red might be a good choice. Entrepreneur quotes Linda Cahan, a retail design consultant, as saying that people buy more when surrounded by red.

But don’t go overboard. Cahan also says that too much red can make your customers jumpy and irritable. And it might be inappropriate if what you're selling is low-key and intimate, such as lingerie or fine china. Psychology Today points out the right color to suit your product might be just as important, if not more important, than how it makes your customers feel.

Dollar Signs Aren’t Always Green

Orange can trigger shoppers into believing they’re getting a good deal, says Morin, and points out that Home Depot uses it heavily in its branding. Entrepreneur suggests orange can make your customers feel happy enough to hang around your store for a while. Pink tends to calm people down, even for an extended period of time, so it might work well with that lingerie and china.

Colors to Avoid 

Psychology Today mentions a study, Impact of Color in Marketing, that found color prompts as many as 90 percent of instant decisions about purchases. Yellow isn’t a particularly popular color, although those who like it tend to like it a lot. Cahan points out that it’s the first color the retina zeros in on. Too much white can make your customers yawn and lose interest.

It’s Not Just About Sales

Color can factor into cost and overhead too. Morin points out that warm colors can actually make your customers feel physically warmer. If your business is in Florida or southern Texas, this might not be a good thing. If you’re in Maine or Minnesota, you might be able to save a bit on utilities if you decorate your retail space in heat-inspiring colors like red and orange. If you're in a warmer zone, lavender, blue and green can convince people they’re cooler.