Psychological Pricing and Other Shopping Persuasion Techniques

The endowment effect, sex in advertising and pricing anchors: all bits of ‘shopping psychology’ we’ve heard before.

Ryan Sager looks at these shopping persuasion techniques we should be aware of, adding a few small pieces of information that may be novel:

  • Endowment effect: We place a higher value on items we own, and just by simply trialling goods (trying on clothes, testing software, cars, etc.) we start to feel ownership.
  • Ownership imagery: Feelings of ownership (see above) can be induced by thought alone.
  • Romantic priming: We (men, not women) increase spending on items of conspicuous consumption when romantically primed (i.e. induced to think about sex, men purchase items as a signalling behaviour).
  • The ninety-nine pence/cent effect (psychological pricing):

A recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that when pens were priced at $1.99 and $4.00, only 18% of the participants chose the higher-priced pen; but when the pens were priced at $2.00 and $3.99, 44% of the participants selected the higher-priced pen.