Researchers from Birmingham City University trawled more than 68,000 items sold on eBay and spanned more than 15 million words to find out how online sellers choose to describe their products and revealed patterns in language which significantly changes the price.
Results showed that items like watches labelled as “men’s” word are sold for an average of 30 pounds while “gents” went for 70 pounds, and fragrances labelled “genuine” fetched 21 pounds but “authentic” ones set buyers back 34 pounds.
‘What’s also interesting is that on eBay, unlike other online stores, sellers write their own descriptions, so we find a lot of language variation between sellers too. The variation between those categories is really interesting from a linguistic perspective,’ said Amdrew Kehoe, researcher from Birmingham City University’s School of English.
Grammatical errors such as missing apostrophes and Internet speak were also found to have a negative impact on the price products sold for.
Used car sellers were found to shy away from the term “second-hand” with only nine instances of the phrase found among nearly 1,000 sold. Instead traditional car sales speak was found with phrases like “honest”, “reliable”, “clean” and “reluctant” all among the top terms.
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