Marketers at Virginia Tech share stealthy new ways to control how people perceive numbers that go far beyond simple psychological pricing.
Retailers almost never round up because of psychological pricing, the old marketing rule that dictates that consumers are more easily swayed by prices that end with ".99" because they seem substantially cheaper.
This week on Professional Help, discover five more nuanced ways proprietors, politicians, and public relations professionals may be using numbers to influence your perceptions and behavior. Based on classic numbers texts as well as their own forthcoming Journal of Consumer Research paper, Virginia Tech marketers Rajesh Bagchi and Derick F. Davis break down the complexities of numbers psychology, from the significance of number size and unit choice to how even your own culture, mood, and mathematical abilities may be used against you.
Size matters. The basic finding in numbers research is called numerosity, and it refers to people's tendency to infer larger sizes or "more" of something from larger numbers. To downplay a 30-day service penalty, therefore, simply referring to it as a one-month suspension might help. Conversely, bigger numbers should be used to convey increases in nutritional benefits (1,000 milligrams of fiber, not one gram) or cellphone talk time (660 minutes, not 11 hours) to make people feel as though they are getting better deals.