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.