I have to admit that I’m a sucker for a bargain. There’s something in my DNA that gets me excited when I can save a few dollars or so, hell just one dollar off is great. I used to be an impulsive buyer but I like to think of myself as being more of an impulsive ‘bargain’ buyer these days. I don’t just buy any old crap, I buy bargain crap. Ask my wife. She’ll tell you it’s true. A decade or so ago we reached the point where she daren’t leave me on my own when we went out shopping for fear of the monstrous bargain I would pick up while I was unleashed.
Things took a turn for the worse with the coming of the World Wide Web. I could finally hide away in my den and find bargain after bargain. The upshot is that my garage is full of stuff that even the idiots on eBay would laugh at.
At this point, I want to make a special shout out to PayPal – Screw You PayPal. You make it way too easy to buy shit.
Occasionally I try to analyze what it is about these bargains that get me to click. Setting aside the fact that I don’t even have to get my debit card out of my wallet, and I don’t have to remember my PayPal password thanks to LastPass, I now believe that it is the effect of Charm Pricing that is, well, charming me.
Charm Pricing has been in use for decades. It got me to buy a 6-foot high giraffe toy. It got me to buy an inflatable banana, and it even got me to buy a men’s hair care kit even though I am bald. So why is it so effective?
Classically, Charm Pricing is when a vendor uses the number nine in their product pricing in such a way that we interpret the price as a bargain. Let me explain.
Western consumers read numbers from left to right, and subconsciously assign the greatest importance to the first number and the least importance to the last. What this means is that we tend to assimilate $5.99 as $5 rather than $6 and $247,500 as $200,000 rather than $250,000.
In practice, it’s not just the number 9 that works. Any odd number will do, so $9.99, $9.97, $9.95 all read as $9.
But Charm Pricing doesn’t only work to fool our subconscious into seeing a bargain, it also helps to reframe an offer in the buyer’s mind.
For example, if we see an offer for a $10 product, we might wonder whether $10 is the right price we should pay, or is the product only worth $5. But if the offer price is shown as $9.99, although we may still question the price, we will be thinking more in terms of nickels and dimes instead of dollars, so $9.97 or $9.95.
Anyway, if any of you are in the market for three 2-slice toasters, a kitchen sink, four motorhome wheel clamps, and around twenty electrical extension leads, give me a shout. I’m sure I can let you have them for a bargain price!