The importance of colour naming for online fashion retail

  • Helen Payne

Student thesis: Phd


Online fashion retailers use a wide array of colour names to describe the colours of their products; ranging from simple colour names such as the primary colours to more ambiguous colour names such as cloud and blush. Although many online retailers devote resources to the selection of colour names, no such research exists on the impact this has on online fashion consumers' behaviours.The impact of colour naming on online fashion consumers is important as fashion and colour have a symbiotic relationship therefore the representation of colour within an online fashion retail setting is crucial. The need for colour naming within online fashion retailing is further intensified by the difficulties of accurately representing colour online and therefore the role of written product information, such as colour naming becomes important. To that end, this research aims to examine the impact of colour naming on online fashion consumers' behaviours. Cognitive responses are considered to investigate the role of colour naming in providing information. Emotional responses are investigated to determine whether colour naming influences consumers in the same way colours are known to influence consumer behaviour. Finally, cognitive and emotional responses to colour naming are investigated to determine the impact on purchase outcomes within the online fashion retail environment.Qualitative and quantitative research approaches are used to derive empirical data. Through interviews and online questionnaires it establishes evidence to support the importance of colour naming within the online retail environment. Two online questionnaires were administered to determine the impact of colour naming on emotional responses and preferences for the colour naming categories within the online fashion retail environment by using the colour name appeal construct developed for this research. In-depth interviews were carried out to determine the impact of colour naming on cognitive responses and purchase intentions.The findings present a statistical significance for the causal relationship between colour naming and emotional responses. They reveal more complex colour names such as common descriptive, unexpected descriptive and ambiguous colour names are more likely to elicit emotions compared to common colour names. The findings also reveal the same colour naming categories are also more appealing within the context of online fashion retailing.A laddering technique was applied to the interviews. The results reveal that colour naming impacts on purchase intentions via a number of intervening variables; colour information, product information, product perception, information processing technique, aiding the shopping experience, understanding the product, emotional response, personal values, and post-purchase satisfaction. Again the complex colour names are found to have a wider reaching impact. Common and unexpected descriptive colour names did not always provide useful colour information to the consumers.This research presents empirical evidence regarding the impact of colour naming on online fashion consumers, thus shedding light on appropriate colour naming strategies for online fashion retailers.
Date of Award31 Dec 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester


  • Marketing communications
  • Colour naming
  • Online fashion retail
  • Product information

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