How Design Affects Consumer Decisions

Think back to the last in-store purchase you made… What did you buy it? Did you just pick it up off the shelf and mosey on your way or did you ponder your decision for some time? I don’t know about you, but for me, even a simple toilet paper run turns into what seems like an eternity for me! Consumers these days are presented with hundreds of options, which we have to scan through in a matter of seconds. Talk about overwhelming!

This is where design comes in.

Decisions, Decisions

Philiastides and Ratcliff suggest that branding has a direct impact on the decision-making process. It influences preference-based judgments and certain brain areas (e.g. prefrontal cortex, striatum, midbrain, and hippocampus) may even be sensitive to these types of value judgments. How we value a product depends on both the product and our own personal values. The result of this; some products being valued more than others. Typically, when judging a product, we form our perception starting from the general (values) to the specific (a product). Of course, it’s not all super scientific, and there will always be those bias to certain brands, and those loyal to some because it’s what your mom, grandma, and great-grandma used. Moving away from all the science talk, let’s jump into another big piece of the puzzle, which is color and psychology.

Designers play on color, type, and iconography to tap into deep emotions. Color has a strong psychological hold on people, and there is a definite correlation between color and feeling. Studies have shown that color triggers a very specific response in our brains. Knowing this, designers can manipulate consumers by trying to stir up certain kinds of emotions when looking at specific products. For example, a lot of designers use greens and browns when designing ‘organic’ packaging. They like to use recycled materials like cardboard, wood, burlap – all very earthy things. The colors used are supposed to make us think that this product is natural and healthy. With the help of marketing strategists who come up with fancy phrases, these products reek with organic-ness. Whether the product is completely organic or not, designers have made you think it’s the healthiest and most natural thing just because of the package design. 

And so there you have it! A small preview of how designers and marketing strategists can influence your consumer decisions.

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