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Mon July 30 2012 10:26:31

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

By: Julia Wilkinson

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We're in the traditional "summer slump" season for online sellers, where we wait out lackluster sales for the ramping up of back-to-school-meets-the-holidays-starting-with-Halloween, so anything about boosting sales catches my eye. So when I saw the story about a study showing that using the color red in your online listings can boost your sales, I was intrigued but also skeptical.

The bold color makes eBay shoppers bid higher when they’re competing with other bidders, according to the study from the Journal of Consumer Research. Why? A red background color "induces aggression through a feeling of arousal and it increases aggression relative to blue or gray backgrounds,” the study says, which."causes individuals to make higher bids in auctions." It "signals vigor and dominance."

However, if the eBay shopper is negotiating with the seller, presumably as in a "Make Offer" scenario, red can have an opposite effect, making shoppers actually lower their offers.

The article goes on to cite other "tricks of the trade" some sellers use to increase sales, such as listings that end on a Sunday night. I know some use professional light boxes for their photos; some pack their titles with every conceivable word, including likely misspellings; and some start auctions at $0.99 to incite the bidding (whether that last strategy still works these days is a matter of debate). 

Those strategies make sense to me, but what about this less-believable color red thing? Do you buy it? Will you try it in your listings?

Whether or not you go with a red background in your listings, I can tell you what my "pet peeves" are when I shop online: photos of an item taken on the floor, fuzzy photos, not enough photos, and those minimalist descriptions that tell you virtually nothing about the item itself, but are all about the seller's policies.

What do you think of this "color red" strategy, and do you use any "listing tricks" you care to share? What are your own pet peeves when shopping other people's listings? Post a comment here!




Comments (18) | Permalink

Readers Comments

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

This user has validated their user name. by: basset

Mon Jul 30 11:08:42 2012

I have the same peeve on the minimal or complete absense of description listings. Without measurements, how do you know if a clothing item fits. How do you know the size of objects. No description of condition other than ''used''. I notice a lot of these minimal listings don't get bids - bidding would be like bidding on a ''mystery box''.

I'm thinking the majority of these are mobile listings.

Red: Haven't tried that. Is it Red in decorating that evokes anger? I'd like a color to evoke calm, honest buyers. Doesn't a lawyer dress the defendent or witness in light blue if they want them to appear honest. Something to think about!  

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 30 12:06:26 2012

I personally try to minimize using red but do use it incertain areas because it is a good highlighter.

However, it has been said that the color red can invoke seizures in people with photosensative epilepsy.  So I try and keep this in mind when using red.

I too get peeved when people give little to NO description.  I NEVER buy from these sellers.

I feel like they find buyers not even worthy of their time to write a dscription.

Another one is the tiny black font.  First, I find black dull an uninspiring, second, if I have to get a magnifying glass to read the description, I am already TURNED OFF and do not waste my time.

I also agree about seeing things on the floor.

Another peeve is to see the dirty house or room in the background.

As for the sellers terms.  I actually appreciate seeing their terms.  I WANT to know what I am agreeing to and what I can or should expect.

I totally appreciate a seller being bold in their terms, I like them setting their terms on the table and I can eiher agree or move on, it then makes it totally MY choice. I feel a great sense of HONESTY.

When a seller puts no terms or vague terms, I feel they are sneaky and probablly hiding something.  Then when there is a problem I always wonder what they are NOT telling me.

Of course there are some sellers whos terms are just down right MEAN and NASTY and I wonder if I complained would they send someone to my house and break my legs..lol

One of my BIGGEST peeves is to see people put "GOD Bless".  Now keep in mind I am a devout Christain and that is actually WHY it bothers me SOOOOO much.

My problem is that they are USING their faith to SELL merchandise and to give the impression of honesty through their faith.

I am also opposed to selling ANYTHING that has to do with religion because it is no different than selling mechandise in the temple.

The ONLY time Jesus ever showed any form of "violence" in the entire bible is when the money changers and merchandisers were selling on the temple grounds.

He liteally made a whip and chased them ALL out and literally flipped over their tables.

I am not opposed to selling bibles though because we are not allowed to steal them, so we have to be able to buy them. :)

We are also told to sell our cloak if we have to to buy a sword, and the sword being reffered to is the bible/world of GOD.

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

by: Wire This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 30 13:10:34 2012

Red, Green, Blue, Hot Pink.....Ok not hot pink, but I'm with the rest of everybody here. Provide good photos and complete descriptions!

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 30 15:19:08 2012

What exactly is the point of the article?

Under the current reign of terror on eBay, that picture (should Coke feel like) would let Coke genrate an MC999 Unauthorized Copyright Violation to the seller who posts that picture. (its within %100 of US trade law, under fair use)(but dont expect the 3rd graders at eBay to know that). So why is it even being shown as an example? Its ONLY an example of how to get your account closed, by the moronic VERO/Trust & Safety Dept at eBay.

Fire Engines are red because red = excitement (notice the first letter in eBay is red - they HOPE someone (anyone) will get excited about thier brand). The same holds true for sports cars - red cars get more tickets then other colors.

Back to VERO and eBay ... what color doesnt attract the pond scum known as VERO? Anyone know?

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

This user has validated their user name. by: basset

Mon Jul 30 17:27:20 2012

A few more to add:

Sellers who model their own clothing - in most cases, SHOULDN'T. I've seen very few carry it off to where it shows off the item to be sold. I realize many are well meaning & don't have a mannequin - but these photos usually end up de-emphasizing the actual sale item. Unless the seller is for sale, too, this should be avoided. Simple mannequins are not that expensive.

We know your kids are cute - but for safety's sake NEVER use your child in an eBay photo. A buyer will have your (and your child's) address. A simple search of your address on map software & any creep can be parked on your street or at your front door. Think about it.

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 30 20:05:50 2012

Basset said:
"We know your kids are cute - but for safety's sake NEVER use your child in an eBay photo. A buyer will have your (and your child's) address. A simple search of your address on map software & any creep can be parked on your street or at your front door. Think about it."

Wow I never thought about that, it is a pretty scary thought though.

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Jul 30 20:54:53 2012

I used to design clothes.
You can't beat a photo clothes on a live person, male, female or child.

On a manequin they just look so dull.

On the floor they look even worse.

And if a nice photo sells the clothes for you, its all good.

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Jul 30 20:56:53 2012

Yes I often wonder if a fancy, long listing sells more than a short plain listing.

Most of my listings are plain and to the point.

Multi colored listigns where every line is a different color or they use all caps, put me off.


The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Mon Jul 30 21:38:33 2012

My cousin sells stainless steel pots and pans and swears he gets more page views when he photographs his auctions while naked.

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

This user has validated their user name. by: basset

Mon Jul 30 21:54:12 2012

@Digmen - Are you talking about professional models who know how to show the clothing features? Most sellers can't afford that. For most sellers a live model is cousin Edna who had to have her arm twisted to do it for them, isn't happy about doing it & just wants it over with.  

Most exammples I've seen on eBay is that the photo becomes about the person wearing the clothing - & the clothing item for sale ends up not being shown to its best advantage to show its features. As a buyer, that is what I want to see - the clothing & how it is put together. If you look at traditional mannequins, they were designed to fade into the background with the star of the show being the clothing items.  I've only seen a few instances where the eBay ''model'' seemed to know it was all about ''SELLING'' the clothing item.
   

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

This user has validated their user name. by: basset

Mon Jul 30 21:58:43 2012

LOL Ed!!!

People need to watch those mirrors in the background, too! I've seen some funny things on listings that have a mirror in the background. Not so much anymore, but when eBay was still fairly new.  

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon Jul 30 22:00:29 2012

@Ed Gadfly - Are sellers still listing items with reflective surfaces where you can see naked people in the photo? I know it was somewhat of a game a few years ago, trying to find inappropriate images in the items for sale.

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Mon Jul 30 22:42:22 2012

Google is your friend!

http://www.jennyhow.com/16-more-ebay-reflectoporn-pictures/

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

by: Just My Humble View This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 31 09:28:24 2012

I've been using red as a background for certain items for several years, but this is definitely not a one-size-fits-all benefit. For certain items, it definitely enhances the number of views, along with the sell-through price. Typically 'male' oriented items (so long as they are not reflective, and show well on red) do better with a red background. This is particularly beneficial for items that have a silver, gray or black matte/satin finish. If the photos are done well, very little of the background is visible (the item filling almost all of the frame) so seizures should not be an issue. ;-) In the corporate world, red has long been considered a power color in clothing ... notice all those red ties on CEO/Upper Management types?

I would not ever use with vintage, collectible, or decorative items, as the shoppers are generally browsing, these items are discretionary rather than essential, and a softer color seems to keep them looking longer (in my experience).

Pet peeves? Dark photos, photos where the item blends into the background (similar colors), blurry photos or photos where the item fills only half of the picture. I don't even bother reading the description, because if the seller won't show the item well in photographs, I assume they are hiding something, and it won't be mentioned in the description. I just move along to another seller who photographs the item well.

I also want to see multiple photographs from various angles and distances, showing details. That way, I better know what to expect when the package arrives, even if I have to pay a lot more. I also will not buy from sellers who use stock photographs from the manufacturer's website. I want to see the actual item I am considering.

Skimpy descriptions are definitely a click-by, too, but also lengthy descriptions that are all in one paragraph or all-caps. The ones with the item features listed with bullet points are best -- I don't have to spend my time wading through a paragraph to find the feature I am looking for. (Although the sell-through price is usually low on these rambling descriptions, and I sometimes buy for re-sale.)

Rainbow lettering is horrible. Red, yellow or any pastel colors are particularly difficult to read, but worse, it is juvenile and unprofessional to alternate colors in the description. If a seller wants color, choose ONE that is easy to read on the description background. Use a bold red where there is a warning (inappropriate for children, etc.), otherwise stick with a dark, easy to read print.  

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 31 11:28:18 2012

@Just My Humble View.

Oh yes the one ginat paragraph.  I will not even read articles/posts that are one paragraph.  It makes me dizzy trying to figure out where I started and left off.

The all caps thing, I guess many people do not know that it is considerd YELLING in the web world or they just do not care.

As for the different colors, I think it really depends on what you are selling and the type of buyers you want to attract.

Not only that, people are attracted to color as that is how we see thngs.  Although I do agree that too much color can turn people off as it too can be dizzying.

Ed wrote: "My cousin sells stainless steel pots and pans and swears he gets more page views when he photographs his auctions while naked."

Way too FUNNY!!!  I needed that laugh today.  

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

This user has validated their user name. by: Ensign Parker

Wed Aug 1 02:11:40 2012

Folks, Google the 'psychology of colors'.  There are very specific psychological reactions to different colors.  Keep in mind that the use of color is counter-productive if used in a manner that hurts the eyes to look at.  The wrong use of a background color in your photos can do you more harm than good.  This is more about the theme of your listing or some type of ''call to action'' using color and words.

For example, when guests are about to appear on camera (say, on a talk show) they are placed in the ''green room'' as green has a calming effect.  Light blue does, as well.  A deeper blue invokes a feeling of trustworthiness.  But, don't overdo it with the green.  Too much of a good thing isn't good.  Remember back when hospitals and other health institutions always had green walls?  The theory of the calming effect got lost in way too many green walls.

As for red, it has the ability to get your blood pumping.  It is a provocative color.  IT evokes power and passion.  It can increase or incite a bidding war but, if you're negotiating a price with a ''Buy it now'' listing with a best offer button, a blue themed listing is the way to go as someone making an offer is more likely to offer a higher amount.

If you were to use a red theme or red highlights in a ''best offer'' style listing, the offers will come in lower because the buyer feels they are competing with you as opposed to negotiating with you.

Colors and smells have long been used to manipulate our senses and coerce us into doing things the sellers/advertisers/managers want us to do.  You don't notice because, for the most part, what they do is so subtle.

Another thing to keep in mind is that these theories have been time tested and they have down to a science what works and what doesn't.  

For example, the Japanese have been using ''industrial fragrancing'' for many years in an effort to make their workers more productive by subjecting them to different scents at different times of the day to refresh and invigorate them.

For further proof of mind manipulation, Google 'psychological triggers that make people buy'.  You'll discover how simple statements and questions are used to compel us to buy a product, whether we actually need it or not.

Have fun researching!  :)

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

by: Theresa This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 1 08:35:32 2012

I have had the same red border template in my listings for years.......not because I attempted to psychoanalyze eBay buyer behavior (as if that is remotely possible).  I simply chose that  border because I am a huge Louisville Cardinals fan and their fan color is red.  Trust me, it sure hasn't helped my sales the last 3 months and I can no longer  afford to run auctions with zero page views so no buyer frenzy here.  LOL.

The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade   The Color Red, a Sales Booster? And Other Tricks of the Trade

This user has validated their user name. by: Ensign Parker

Wed Aug 1 14:10:53 2012

@ Theresa:  It's not so much about using the color red in your picture , unless it's appropriate to the item you're selling.  It's about the use of colors within you listing.  A red banner, for example, maybe with the words "LAST ONE" or something, is what will ignite the frenzy, assuming you have an in demand type item.



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