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Red in eBay Auctions May Lead to Higher Bids

A new consumer study shows how background color affects willingness to pay.

Want to elicit higher bids on your eBay auctions? Try using red as a background color for your product images.

According to a study recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research, individuals who saw a red background in eBay auctions bid more aggressively.

However, the same red background in a fixed-price “make an offer” listing resulted in lower price offers. In this type of listing, a blue background might produce better results for the seller, the study’s authors suggest.

The researchers wanted to find out how the psychology of color factors into consumers’ willingness to pay in auctions and negotiations.

What they learned is that, in auctions, buyers perceive that they are competing against other bidders, but in negotiations, they are competing against the seller. And because red is known to induce greater aggression relative to blue, buyers are more likely to be aggressive in trying to “win” in either situation, they conclude.

About the author

Crista Souza
Crista Souza is founding editor of A journalism graduate of San Jose State University, she spent 13 years as a business and technology reporter in Silicon Valley. Crista has been writing about B2C and C2C ecommerce since 2008. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

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