Position Prices Near the Top or Left

Prices seem cheaper in different locations, particularly toward the top and left.

Nick Kolenda
Updated on
Grid with emphasis in top and left sections

Why the Left?

Objects on the right pull downward:

...because our eyes enter a visual field from the left, the left naturally becomes the anchor point or ‘visual fulcrum.’ Thus, the further an object is placed away from the left side (or the fulcrum), the heavier the perceived weight (Deng & Kahn, 2009, p. 9).

Prices might feel heavy toward the right:

A price toward the right side of a fulcrum, pulling it down

Plus, we conceptualize numbers on a horizontal ruler — they get larger from left to right (assuming that you read from left to right). Thus, small numbers are associated with the left:

...people typically see small numbers to the left of larger ones, [so] they are likely to associate small numerical values with locations on the left (Cai, Shen, & Hui, 2012, p. 723)

Caveat: One competing mechanism is simulation fluency. You prefer stimuli to be located on the same side as your dominant hand (Casasanto, 2009). Since most people are right-handed, I suspect that prices might “feel better” toward the right.

Why the Top?

In one study, cookies seemed lighter toward the top of a package (Deng & Kahn, 2009).

Package of cookies where the cookies seem lighter toward the top

Why? Because the cookies seemed lifted to this location — so, naturally, they must be lighter.

Prices might inherit this effect.

Cookies seem lighter toward the top of packaging. This layout is replicated to show prices toward the top of a design

One study confirmed that prices seem expensive in the bottom-right (Park & Ma, 2019). But we need more research — another study found that prices seemed cheaper at the bottom (Barone, Coulter, & Li, 2020).

  • Barone, M. J., Coulter, K. S., & Li, X. (2020). The Upside of Down: Presenting a Price in a Low or High Location Influences How Consumers Evaluate It. Journal of Retailing, 96(3), 397-410.
  • Cai, F., Shen, H., & Hui, M. K. (2012). The effect of location on Price estimation: understanding number–location and number–order associations. Journal of Marketing Research, 49(5), 718-724.
  • Casasanto, D. (2009). Embodiment of abstract concepts: good and bad in right-and left- handers. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 138(3), 351.
  • Coulter, K. S. (2002). The influence of print advertisement organization on odd-ending price image effects. Journal of Product & Brand Management.
  • Deng, X., & Kahn, B. E. (2009). Is your product on the right side? The “location effect” on perceived product heaviness and package evaluation. Journal of Marketing Research, 46(6), 725-738.
  • Park, J., & Ma, Y. J. (2019). Number-location bias: do consumers correctly process the number on the product package?. Journal of Product & Brand Management.