Expose People to Any High Number

Nearby numbers influence the reference price.

Nick Kolenda
Updated on
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In one study, researchers sold music CDs on a boardwalk in West Palm Beach. Every 30 minutes, an adjacent vendor switched the price of a sweatshirt between $10 or $80.

Turns out, the $80 sweatshirt boosted sales of CDs because they seemed cheaper (Nunes & Boatwright, 2004).

But surprisingly, this anchoring effect works with any number. In another study, people reflected on the last two digits of their social security number. If those digits were high, they were willing to pay a higher amount for products.

People who had social security numbers between 00 to 19 were willing to pay $16.09, whereas people with social security numbers between 80 to 99 were willing to pay $55.64

This anchoring effect occurs subconsciously — it even happened when researchers subliminally exposed people to a high number (Adaval & Monroe, 2002).

Therefore, show high numbers near your price:

  • Join 5,487 happy customers
  • Invoice #8986
  • We donated $100,000 to charity

Those large numbers raise the reference price, which makes your actual price seem cheaper.

  • Adaval, R., & Monroe, K. B. (2002). Automatic construction and use of contextual information for product and price evaluations. Journal of Consumer Research, 28(4), 572- 588.
  • Ariely, D., Loewenstein, G., & Prelec, D. (2003). “Coherent arbitrariness”: Stable demand curves without stable preferences. The Quarterly journal of economics, 118(1), 73-106.
  • Nunes, J. C., & Boatwright, P. (2004). Incidental prices and their effect on willingness to pay. Journal of Marketing Research, 41(4), 457-466.