I recently finished the book Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It). It’s a fascinating look at how we perceive pricing, mis-perceive pricing, and are easily fooled by small changes in packaging, presentation and marketing.
Though the book starts slowly with more than hundred pages of background on the study of pricing psychology, if you skip ahead to parts 3 and 4 you get to the meat of the book; the key takeaways that marketers use and abuse everyday in our supermarket, casinos and dollar stores.
More than anything, this book made me realize there are “black hat” tactics in many disciplines. Some of the tactics the author discusses made me want to shower, such as cell phone bills made complex on purpose so people can’t compare apples to apples with the competition.
On the flip side, the idea of ending a price with .99 seems so commonplace that I don’t question it these days. It doesn’t feel black hat to me, but perhaps it should.
An unintended benefit was walking away with a list of things to watch out for as a consumer (e.g., new packaging always means less product). I also walked away with a few pricing ideas to test on my products.
In the end, Priceless is a unique and well-constructed look at the psychology of pricing.