The Link Between Color Rendering & Buying Shoes: A Case Study

When it comes to designing enticing displays in retail stores, there’s a lot more that goes into it than deciding where the “Sale” sign should go. Studies have shown that buying decisions are affected by store layout, lighting, music, and even scent.

The Smell & Taste Research Foundation in Chicago has conducted a number of studies evaluating how certain scents can impact mood and perception. One study placed an identical pair of Nike sneakers in two identical rooms – except one was sprayed with a mixed floral scent and one was odorless. When shoppers filled out surveys evaluating the sneakers, a whopping 84 percent said they preferred the sneakers in the floral-scented room, and that they’d pay about $10 more for them. Clearly, sensory perceptions affect our opinions on products.

Lighting, of course, has a significant impact on retail display as well. A recent study published in LEDs Magazine indicated that the degree of color rendering in a display may have an impact on sales.  

Color rendering is the measure of a light’s ability to render colors accurately. The scale ranges from 1 to 100, with 100 being the color rendering index of the sun. A CRI of 85 is considered to be very good.

The study was conducted at House of Fraser in London at a ladies shoe display containing three identical alcoves. Each alcove was illuminated with a different light source:

  • a halogen light source with an average CRI of 100
  • an LED with an average CRI of 95
  • an LED with an average CRI of 80

Shoppers did not notice the difference between the 100 CRI alcove and the 95 CRI alcove; however, they rated the 80 CRI alcove significantly lower in terms of attraction.

The study is ongoing: The three light sources will be switched out on a weekly basis to measure the impact on sales.  We’ll follow up here when the results are released!

Emily Widle

Emily graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism. She enjoys scouring the news to report on the latest in the lighting industry as well as bringing valuable remodeling tips and exemplar home projects to light.