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9.9: Psychological aspects of pricing

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    • Contributed by John Burnett
    • Sourced from Global Text Project

    Price, as is the case with certain other elements in the marketing mix, appears to have meaning to many buyers that goes beyond a simple utilitarian statement. Such meaning is often referred to as the psychological aspect of pricing. Inferring quality from price is a common example of the psychological aspect. A buyer may assume that a suit priced at USD 500 is of higher quality than one priced at USD 300. From a cost-of-production, raw material, or workmanship perspective, this may or may not be the case. The seller may be able to secure the higher price by nonprice means such as offering alterations and credit or the benefit to the buyer may be in meeting some psychological need such as ego enhancement. In some situations, the higher price may be paid simply due to lack of information or lack of comparative shopping skills. For some products or services, the quantity demanded may actually rise to some extent as price is increased. This might be the case with an item such as a fur coat. Such a pricing strategy is called prestige pricing.

    Products and services frequently have customary prices in the minds of consumers. A customary price is one that customers identify with particular items. For example, for many decades a five-stick package of chewing gum cost USD 0.05 and a six-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola cost USD 0.05. Candy bars now cost 60 cents or more, a customary price for a standard-sized bar. Manufacturers tend to adjust their wholesale prices to permit retailers in using customary pricing. However, as we have witnessed during the past decade, prices have changed so often that customary prices are weakened.

    clipboard_e5a7d242ec77ea7b77741687aeea19b15.pngAD 1: Winning an award is a psychological aspect of price

    Another manifestation of the psychological aspects of pricing is the use of odd prices3 We call prices that end in such digits as 5, 7, 8, and 9 "odd prices" (e.g. USD 2.95, USD 15.98, or USD 299.99). Even prices are USD 3, USD 16, or USD 300. For a long time marketing people have attempted to explain why odd prices are used. It seems to make little difference whether one pays USD 29.95 or USD 30 for an item. Perhaps one of the most often heard explanations concerns the psychological impact of odd prices on customers. The explanation is that customers perceive even prices such as USD 5 or USD 10 as regular prices. Odd prices, on the other hand, appear to represent bargains or savings and therefore encourage buying. There seems to be some movement toward even pricing; however, odd pricing is still very common. A somewhat related pricing strategy is combination pricing. Examples are two-for-one, buy-one-get-one-free. Consumers tend to react very positively to these pricing techniques.

    Capsule 21: Review

    • Developing a pricing strategy:

    • nonprice competition

    • competitive pricing

    • New product pricing:

    • penetration

    • skimming

    • Price lining means a number of sequential price points are offered within a product category.

    • Price flexibility allows for different prices charged for different customers and/or under different situations.

    • Price bundling groups similar or complementary products and charges a total price that is lower than if they were sold separately.

    • Certain pricing strategies, such as prestige pricing, customary pricing, or odd pricing, play on the psychological perspectives of the consumer.