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Effects of the colour red on online bidders

Colours are everywhere and affect our behaviour in ways of which we are often not consciously aware. It is already established that the colour red signals domination and increases aggressiveness in animals, but how does it affect consumers? A recent study on the effects of colour on consumer behaviour (in particular behaviour of bidders in online auctions) has revealed some interesting tendencies.

In conventional real life purchasing situations red tends to have a negative effect on consumers’ willingness to buy items. The opposite is true of online auctions. Red is proven to make bidders more aggressive and competitive. The colour tends to increase competitiveness in two separate ways – by stimulating the desire to obtain an item and also stimulating the desire to get the best deal possible. Consumer behaviour depends on which of these is most important to the individual. In auctions, bidders compete against other bidders – therefore it is a competitive desire to obtain the item that most often predominates, encouraging participants to enter bidding wars and thus raise the final selling price.

Data from eBay auctions appears to prove this theory – a red background consistently elicits significantly higher bid jumps than does a blue background. In auctions that prominently feature the colour red the average bid increase is over 8% higher than those of auctions that prominently feature blue or grey. On the other hand, the study also demonstrates that a red background makes participants place significantly lower offers in situations that require negotiation with the seller (for example if there is a “buy now” price and people are permitted to email their own offers). This is due to the fact that bidders are now “in competition” with the seller rather than with other bidders.

The study reveals that brighter colours in general (such as white, pink, blue, red) tend to elicit more positive responses (e.g. happiness and excitement) from bidders. Conversely, the report suggest that dark colours such as brown, green and black tend to be seen more negatively. Green apparently induces feelings of detachment and withdrawal, whereas black can create feelings of anxiety and pessimism in bidders.

It is also interesting to find out that colours considered relaxing (blue and yellow for example) tend to shorten users’ perceptions of things such as loading time when featured as a web background. Branding colours also affect consumer perceptions and can help establish the sort of connotations a brand conveys. For example, red or orange in a company’s logo tend to create more excitement in people’s reactions than logos in cooler colours such as blue.

Perhaps something to consider when deciding on the colour scheme of your website…

  • You can read about the branding and layout options we can offer here
  • You can see examples of previous auction sites we have created on our clients page
  • You can read more about the auction packages we offer on our product page

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