Study: Bidders Will Pay More on Ebay for Items Shown on a Red Background

Posted on July 17, 2012

A new study that appeared in the Journal of Consumer Research reveals that placing an item on a red background on Ebay will cause consumers to bid higher for the item. Consumers believe they are competing against other buyers, so the color red makes them act more aggressively as to what they will pay for an item.

The color blue causes consumers to make a lower offer. Authors Rajesh Bagchi (Virginia Tech) and Amar Cheema (University of Virginia) explain, "Red background color induces aggression through a feeling of arousal and it increases aggression relative to blue or gray backgrounds. This causes individuals to make higher bids in auctions but lower offers in negotiations."

The test involved having subjects bid on different items in an Ebay-like setting. Regardless of the type of item show, those that were photographed on a red background got much more aggressive bidding from the test subjects. The authors concluded in the study, "Just as influential as the product itself is its selling mechanism—auction or negotiation—which moderates the effect of color on willingness-to-pay."
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