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The impact of light and color on the quality of the Customer Experience

Updated: Mar 1

Most of us don't think much about how light can affect our mood. It is no secret that lighting, natural or artificial, affects our mental state. We've all heard of "mood lighting": candlelit dinners, moonlit walks, sunrises and sunsets. Now, the intensity of lighting and color is being explored concerning the intensity of our emotions and its impact on the Customer Experience.

New research published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology indicates that the intensity of a light source and a particular color can increase both the positive and negative associations we have with a specific store, category, or product.

Color temperature is a characteristic of visible light (the part of the electromagnetic spectrum visible to the human eye), measured in Kelvin (K). Each grade range will make a store feel a particular way and, in turn, will make your customer perceive things differently, which will affect their purchasing decisions. High Kelvin (K) levels make the environment bluer and colder and, conversely, the lower the Kelvin level, the color temperature increases.

Now, how do you use light and color to achieve the store's commercial objectives?


The way you light your store can help determine the average amount of time you want your customers to spend in the store. The intensity of the light can accelerate or reduce the purchasing and consumption process within the store.

Impact of light on the Shopping Experience

Bright light with high Kelvin levels produces blue light which increases alertness levels and the feeling of a "cooler" environment, while lower, red light has a "calming" effect. The bluer light is closer to midday sunlight and has an alerting property. Exposure to blue light can give us extra energy because it activates a photopigment called melanopsin that tells our brain to be alert.

The article published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology describes how participants in this research were exposed to different wavelengths of light during specific work sessions. Those exposed to bright blue light were more productive and were able to complete cognitive tasks faster and more accurately than the control group. The higher light intensity increased their alertness not only during the exposure but for half an hour after the experiment ended.

Excited by the results, the researchers later created a variety of scenarios by varying the intensity of the lighting. The participants were exposed to different scenarios and had to respond about their feelings regarding positive and negative facial expressions, words, and images of people, places, and products. The results showed that the level of light intensity affected the participants' evaluation of all aspects. The greater the intensity of the light, the results were always greater, whether in a positive or negative sense.

This seems logical, remembering the old saying "At night all cats are brown" because with good light we can capture a greater amount of detail in people and things, but the interesting thing is that the intensity of the light also influenced the level of acceptance of positive and negative words.

Another interesting aspect of the results is the fact that participants indicated that they felt the temperature in the room increased as the light intensity increased when in reality the temperature remained stable.

Experiencia de Compra en Tiendas

Based on these results, we can understand why Supermarkets, Minimarkets, Convenience Stores, Construction Materials, and Fast Food usually use intense lighting with high levels of Kelvin to make the purchasing process and stay in the store quick, conveying security. , cleanliness, and spaciousness.


Experiencia de Compra en Retail

Scientists have discovered that light affects how much we eat, how quickly we eat, the type of food we choose, and even our perception of flavors.

In a general sense, we eat slower and eat less food in restaurants with softer, dimmer lighting. However, less healthy food selection is also more likely in darker restaurants. Researchers believe this is because softer lighting can make us less alert and relaxed, meaning we are less likely to think about our food choices (and evaluate how caloric they are), but more likely to eat at a relaxed pace, rather than quickly consuming what's on our plate.

In hotels, cafes, restaurants, discos, and clubs they use warmer lights to create more welcoming environments that make the customer lose track of time and increase their consumption.


Light not only affects what we eat, but it can also have an impact on how things taste. A recent study, for example, found that backlighting affected the final rating of a wine brand by the same group of participants. The bottom line is that bright light is recommended for wine and food tasting, where the focus of the experience is the product and the visual impact is critical to the final evaluation of the product.

Impacto de la luz en la Experiencia de Compra en Retail


Capturing natural sunlight can make a big difference. A recent study found that shoppers who shop in stores that take advantage of natural light report a much greater sense of overall well-being than shoppers whose purchases were made in stores with artificial light and no windows. Natural light can even help reduce symptoms of depression.

Luz y su importancia en la Experiencia de Compra

Light also determines how we see color. Color is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal actions, influence mood, and even influence physiological reactions. Certain colors have been linked to increased blood pressure, increased metabolism, and eye strain.

Despite the general lack of formal research in this area, the concept of color psychology has become a hot topic in the retail sector. Much of the evidence in this emerging area is anecdotal at best, but at TMC Consultores we have spent a lot of time and effort collecting key observations about the effect of color on purchasing behavior.

While feelings about color are often deeply personal and rooted in one's experience or culture, we can conclude that reactions are quite similar throughout Latin America.

Colors in the red area of the color spectrum are known as warm colors and include red, orange, and yellow.

These warm colors evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth, stimulation, happiness, optimism, closeness, and comfort to feelings of anger, fear, frivolity, and hostility.

Luz y Color en la Experiencia de Compra

Colors on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colors and include blue, purple, and green.

These colors are often described as calm, reliable, authentic, and refreshing, but they can also evoke feelings of coldness, boredom, sadness, inferiority, or indifference.

Luz y posicionamiento en la experiencia de compra

Black can be associated with modernity, sensuality, elegance, security, and emotional protection, but it can also suggest threat, sadness, and emotional coldness.

Psicología del Color en la experiencia de compra en retail

White is clear and pure, clean, young, it is also modern, but it can also convey emptiness, be hostile, inexpressive, and sterile.

Psicología del Color Blanco en la experiencia de compra


Historically, retail has considered lighting as a simple resource necessary for the operation of its businesses. Having a good lighting system in the retail environment can change the results of a business, being able to adapt the space to the product to stand out in busy commercial environments, and create pleasant and attractive environments for customers and employees.

Lighting systems in most modern stores are being used as a base platform for data transmission or positioning systems that allow us to understand the behavior of buyers and generate strategies to increase sales. Additionally, it allows you to create a schedule by category or sector of the store and automate any lamp outside or inside the store depending on the day of the week and time of day.

Smart lighting options not only use less energy and lower your monthly electric bills, but they also last longer than standard light bulbs, which is another cost benefit of switching to smart lights.


Carlos Ignacio Alfonzo, Partner TMC Consultores

Written by Carlos Ignacio Alfonzo, managing partner of TMC Consultores Comerciales. If you are interested in learning about TMC's consulting or training products in this area, write to us at and we will immediately contact you.

If we are not yet connected on LinkedIn, it will be a pleasure to have you in my network of contacts. If you want to evaluate the Shopping Experience of your customers in your strategic stores, write to me at and we will schedule a meeting.

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