Are coloured images better than B&W? Not always
Coloured images influence our choice while buying a product to the extent that we ignore practical concerns such as cost and functionality, a study has revealed.
New York: Coloured images influence our choice while buying a product to the extent that we ignore practical concerns such as cost and functionality, a study has revealed.
The findings suggest that while coloured images make people focus on small product details, viewing objects in black and white helps our brains focus on what's most important.
"Colour images help us notice details. But black-and-white images let us see the 'big picture' without getting bogged down by those details," said study co-author Xiaoyan Deng of the Ohio State University.
"Our study shows that while colour is desirable in most situations, it's not desirable in all situations," Deng added.
If a product has broad features that set it apart from the competition, then black-and-white images will help customers cast aside minor details and focus on those key features, the researchers found.
If a product's details are what set it apart, colour images will make those details stand out.
In one part of the study, 94 college students were asked to imagine that they were travelling to a remote campsite where they could receive only one radio station.
There, the campsite manager offered two radios for rent: a basic analog radio for $10 a day, or a fancy digital radio with many station preset buttons for $18 a day.
Not only was the digital radio more expensive, but its preset buttons would be useless at the campsite.
Students who saw pictures of the radios in black and white tended to make the practical choice - the analog radio. Only 25 percent chose the digital radio.
But among students who saw the radios in colour, twice as many chose the digital radio.
In that scenario, 50 percent of students were willing to pay a higher price for a radio with features that they could not use.
"Colour drew their focus away from the most important features to the less important features, and their choice shifted to the more expensive radio," Deng said.
"I think that's surprising - that just by manipulating whether the product presentation is in colour or black and white, we can affect people's choice," he concluded.
The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Research.