There are many explanations, religious, historic and cultural, on why the colour red is used (along with green, gold, silver and white) as one of the key colours for Christmas. Certainly, red was the most widely used colour for Christmas 2012 in almost every window and instore display in New York this year.
From the use of single colour monotone schemes, to those with a bold tone-on-tone execution with traditional scarlet, ruby and berry shades, to vibrant vermillion and crimson, retailers in every product category had picked up on the trend.
As a colour, it has more associations and connotations than any other shade, with numerous studies suggesting that humans react more powerfully when they see red. Its values are universal and understood by people of all ages, cultures and nationalities. It evokes impulsive behaviours where confidence, daring, passion and risk are commonly observed. Cars are perceived to go faster, food to be more appetising, and things generally younger, happier and more alive.
Over the years, much has been written about the colour red. Some gory, much romantic, others scientific and lots anecdotal and personal. Poems, songs, letters and prose have all recorded our affection for red. It is the colour that endures and, just like the weather, it seems everyone has something to say about this most seasonal of colours. Quite simply, red is a ‘one size fits all’ shade. It works when and where others don’t.
For these, and a multitude of other reasons, it’s not surprising that red is the colour of choice instore for Christmas. Every retailer wants to make the highest sales and most profitable results from the huge surge in numbers and the opportunities that the season brings. Why risk a quirky or unconventional Christmas shade when red is a universal and popular favourite? Therefore, it’s only sensible that brands would want to place their most certain bet, and to de-risk to reap their rewards at this crucial time.
Retailers refer to Christmas and its ever earlier run up as the ‘golden quarter’, but this year even more than ever, I think it is all about red. Red in the creative promotional activities before, and red in the discounting activities afterwards, where left over goodies and seasonal clearance events will start in earnest depending on how things perform in the vital hours before the big day itself.
Without doubt, Christmas is synonymous with red. Birth, joy and love are embedded into its DNA – all part of the very essence of the festive period. What would choosing to celebrate the season with any other colour be like? Not Christmas.