Los Angeles Times • June 16, 2016


Purchases aren’t just driven by need or cost. Consumers respond emotionally to products that fit their lifestyle and sell a beneficial experience. In a world where everyone is surrounded by vibrant hues, color ads are more effective than black-and-white ads at grabbing attention and triggering emotional responses. Color has the power to improve a customer’s mood, and influencing how customers feel is the key to making an impact with your brand.

Color Boosts Ad Recall

Both well-designed color and black-white ads can raise brand awareness, and adding color doesn’t automatically make customers more likely to make a purchase. However, color ads that combine strong offers with appealing text, imagery and illustrations have a better chance of standing out to readers and holding attention long enough for your audience to connect with the brand message.

Studies show 60 percent of readers recall offers on color ads, while only 29 percent recall offers on black-and-white ads. In terms of memorable impact, the imagery in color ads affects 49 percent of readers, and headlines grab 50 percent of readers. By comparison, imagery in black-and-white captures only 24 percent of your audience, while headlines capture 21 percent.

Color breaks up the printed page, creating contrast that catches a reader’s eyes and makes the page easier to scan. On the other hand, black-and-white ads are easy for readers to skip, as the words, pictures and negative space can become like a grayscale block with no distinct focal point to grab attention.

Color Ads Can Increase Purchasing Action

Budget-conscious marketers usually need a compelling reason to pay for color ads, which are costlier and require more detailed designs. Well-planned color ads offer a clear return on investment by improving the quality of sales-driven actions related to purchase intent. Research shows print color ads increase purchase intent among 85 percent of readers, compared to 52 percent of readers who view black-and-white print ads.

For most readers, black-and-white ads increase brand awareness and improve their opinions of the company, motivating them to learn more about the products or services. However, color ads generate more actionable responses, such as gathering information, visiting a store or visiting the company website. In fact, color ads score 20 percent higher than industry norms for ad recall and reader action, while black-and-white ads score below industry norms.

Marketers know that getting consumers to a store or website is half the battle and the likelihood that consumers will make a purchase significantly increases once they have products in hand or in a cart. This is where color ads have a greater effect on sales potential. Surveyed readers were three times more likely to visit a store after seeing a color ad, compared to a black-and-white ad, and 19 percent intended to complete a purchased, while black-and-white ads drove only 2 percent of customers to make a purchase.

Color ads are especially effective at targeting women, who make up the largest consumer demographic. Nearly 50 percent of women recall color ads in general, and 73 percent recall full-page colors ads, while 38 percent recall full-page black-and-white ads. Making the transition to color advertising can give your brand a bold, recognizable personality that helps readers connect with your product.