Color and Store Choice in Electronic Commerce: The Explanatory Role of Trust

By Lee, Simon; Rao, V. Srinivasan | Journal of Electronic Commerce Research, May 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

Color and Store Choice in Electronic Commerce: The Explanatory Role of Trust


Lee, Simon, Rao, V. Srinivasan, Journal of Electronic Commerce Research


ABSTRACT

In marketing, researchers of atmospherics have shown correlations between ambient color and purchase related variables. In contrast, little attention has been paid to website color in electronic commerce. We provide evidence of the effect of color on simulated store choice. We show that the difference in trust between blue and green stores is significant, and that store choice is highly correlated to the difference in trust. In effect, trust is a significant explanatory variable in the relationship between color and store choice. The significance of the results is discussed.

Keywords: color, trust, electronic commerce, store choice

1. Introduction

Researchers in marketing have shown the ambient store color affects purchase-related variables. For instance, Bellizzi, Crowley and Hasty [1983] have shown that subjects are more attracted to warm colors (e.g., yellow and red) than to cooler colors (e.g., blue and green), but subjects found cooler colors to be more positive and pleasant. Bellizzi and Hite [1992] found that a blue environment led to more simulated purchases, fewer purchase postponements, a stronger inclination to shop and browse than a red environment. Babin, Hardesty and Suter [2003] found that a blue interior was considered more likeable by subjects and was associated with greater shopping and purchase intentions than an orange interior. In contrast to the attention to ambient color in marketing research, scant attention has been paid to the role of web site color in electronic commerce, in spite of assertions, such as, "..screen color [is] an important visual element of the computer-mediated environment.." [Gorn et al., 2004, p.216]. Recommendations for the use of color in web sites appear to be based on commonsensical arguments. For example, Sutcliffe [2001] recommends the judicious use of color, i.e., color should be balanced and low saturation pastel colors should be used for backgrounds, and that designs should not use more than 2 or 3 fully saturated intense colors, without sufficient theoretical arguments to support the recommendation. Thus, there is a need for a better understanding of the role of color in web site design, both from an academic and a practical perspective. From the academic perspective, there is a need for theoretical development of issues related to color. From the practical perspective, it is necessary to develop recommendations for the use of colors in web sites.

The effects of color in the web environment are complex. No single study can hope to answer all the relevant questions related to colors in web sites. The long-term goal of our research stream, aimed primarily at academicians, is to develop theoretical arguments to understand the effects of color in electronic commerce. In this article, we report the results of a study, which provides preliminary evidence for the effect of color on store choice in web retailing, and the explanatory role of trust in the relationship between color and store choice.

The remainder of the article is organized as follows. In section 2, the literature related to the effects of color, trust in electronic commerce, and, trust and purchase-related variables is reviewed. In section 3, the theoretical model and hypotheses are developed. The details of experimental methodology are reported in section 4. In section 5, we report the results of the hypotheses testing. This is followed by a discussion of the results in section 6. Section 7 includes concluding remarks.

2. Literature review

The literature review focuses on three topics: the effects of color, trust in electronic commerce, and, trust and purchase-related variables.

2.1. The Effects of Color

Excellent summaries of the physiological and psychological effects of color are provided by Bellize and Hite [1992] and Bellize, Crowley and Hasty [1983]. Physiologically, red or ¡°warm¡± colors tend to excite, leading to higher blood pressure, higher respiratory rates, eyeblink frequency, and greater hand tremor and so on, while blue or ¡°cool¡± colors have the opposite effects. …

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