Pricing mistakes and consumer behavior

A new study by researchers from Singapore and Yale revealed a pricing surprise: if two similar items were priced the same, subjects were much less likely to buy one than if their prices were slightly different!

A tiny price difference seems to make the similar products more alike, and increases the probability that a decision will be made and not deferred.

In one experiment, the researchers presented two groups of subjects with a choice. They gave all subjects a dollar with the option to buy gum or keep the money. Two similar types of gum were offered. One group saw both gum options priced at 63 cents, while the other saw one gum priced at 62 cents and the other at 64. This trivial difference caused 77% of the second group to buy vs. just 46% for the first group – a 67% boost!

In retail settings, similar products may be offered at the same price. But, rather than simplifying the choice for the consumer, doing so may actually increase the probability that the consumer will buy nothing at all.