Pi Attitude Zone: Self-Gratification

The Price Is... Not Right

Price matters.  People think that expensive things are better quality than their cheaper counterparts.  But a study has shown that the inducement of higher price has an even more important effect: people actually enjoy something more if they think it is more expensive.  And it makes no difference if the two items are identical.  The determining factor is not reality, but expectation.

The proof of this came from a study by Dr. Antonio Rangel of the California Institute of Technology.  Findings from carefully-monitored brain-scans showed that if you tell people the wine they are drinking is “expensive”, they really do enjoy it more than a supposedly “cheap” one.

Volunteers tasted five supposedly “different” wines, each of which was described to them as being priced somewhere between $5 and $90 a bottle.  In reality, there were only three different wines – two appeared twice, with different notional price-tags. 

The brain-scan data showed that drinkers enjoyed a “$10 wine” only half as much as a “$90 wine”, even when in reality the two wines were identical.  Control tests involving blind tasting showed that drinkers were only fooled when price information was given to them.  The pattern of results was the same whether the respondents were ordinary people or members of a prestigious wine club, so actually knowing about wine was not a factor.

The test has profound implications for the marketers of gourmet food and drink, and for luxury goods.  Telling consumers that something is, in effect, “reassuringly expensive” actually means they will enjoy it more.  And, presumably, that they will want to repeat the pleasure – if they can afford it.

How suggestible we consumers and our perceptions really are!

Pi says: reading this blogpost would normally cost you $100.  There!  You’re enjoying it more already!

Zone: Self-Gratification Country: Multiple Geographies Product – Consumer Products