Insight of the Week
January 26, 2024

Reduce Digit Averages For Prices in the Thousands

Certain digits can make a price feel lower. Instead of reducing the left digit, sometimes it's more effective to reduce the digit average.

$2111 has low digits from 1-9

Overview

You should typically reduce the left digit in a price.

$5.99 feels lower than $6.00 because your eyes are anchored to the left digit.

But $5.99 has a couple 9’s – which are high digits. Hmm, is that bad? Would it feel larger?

Interestingly, yes.

Usually this effect is trivial because the left digit is more persuasive. Though it becomes important for prices in the thousands (e.g., $1999; Lin & Wang, 2017).

Ironically, customers pay more attention to these later digits.

$1999 with focus area on 999

Researchers tested a variety of sale prices: $3,111, $3,222, $3,333, $3,444, $3,555, $3,666, $3,777, $3,888, and $3999. For each price, they showed an original price that was $895 more.

Sale prices with low digits (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4) consistently performed better (Dogerlioglu-Demir, Akpinar, Gurhan-Canli, & Koçaş, 2022).

Therefore, switch your mindset in the thousands:

  • Bad: How can I reduce the left digit?
  • Good: How can I reduce the digit average?

Instead of choosing $1999, try a low $2000 price instead.

  • The average of 1-9-9-9 is 7.0.
  • The average of 2-1-1-1 is 1.5.

Caveats

  • Be careful with 0. We need more research to verify these effects.
  • The study focused on USD currency.

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