Why You Keep Falling For Stores' Pricing Psychology Tricks

We've grown wise to how stores try to trick you into paying more by using shady pricing psychology tricks. If we know how they work, though, why do we keep falling for them? In short, because we want to. Photo by Dejdżer / Digga.

We like to blame evil stores for using manipulative tactics to trick you into stuff you would never buy on your own. Why, if stores were just honest, we would never buy anything but what we absolutely need! Except that's not true. When we're shopping for things we want, we're looking for an excuse, a reason however arbitrary, that it's OK to spend the money. Retailers are just smoothing the edges, making that decision a little bit easier. As advice site The Middle Finger Project explains:

If you've ever wondered why the price is $199 instead of $200, then, it's not because they're trying to fool you. It's because we need to fool ourselves.
It's much easier to justify spending a hundred dollars and some change (we write off the second half of the number) than two hundred dollars -- even if the difference is only one dollar. Once you put the two in front of it, you've changed the game. Once you put the two in front of it, it takes the price into a new category.

Of course, the store isn't some selfless hero connecting us with the products we always wanted. They're out to make a buck. However, it's important to realise that none of these tricks would work if we didn't already want what they're selling. If you want to cut off a retailer or advertiser's power at its source, you have to be able to let go of wanting their stuff.

$199 vs $200: The difference of a dollar is never just the difference of a dollar. [The Middle Finger Project via Rockstar Finance]


Comments

    I did hear somewhere that the original reason for ".99" pricing was that it meant the cashier had to open the drawer to give change. Which meant they had to ring up the sale. Which helped keep them honest.
    Not sure if there's truth in that, but it made sense.
    These days though, i suspect it is a bit psychological. I place more trust in retailers who round things up.

    I've always rounded up in my head when I see prices. It could be $189 and I'll still round it out and call it an even $200 when I'm deciding if I want to buy something and how much I'm prepared to pay for it.

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