Imagine you are a retailer who is running a sale. You are about to have your point of sale printed and are madly cobbling together what you want your sign to say to maximise its impact. Without thinking twice you ensure the discounted price is the biggest thing on the page. After all, that’s what is going to grab customer attention, right? Whoops. You may have just botched it.
Small font = small price
I was walking through a furniture store last week and like many retailers, this one was advertising the sale price by bolding and super-sizing the price point.
Figure 1 Furniture retailer sale signage
Problem is that researchers have found that customers respond to what’s known as magnitude representations, meaning they subconsciously process the value of the offer according to the congruence between the number and its font size (the size-congruency effect).
Small font = small price
Large font = large price
As the researchers note, “Presenting the lower sale prices in relatively small font resulted in more favorable value assessments and greater purchase likelihood or choice than presenting the lower sale prices in relatively large font.”
And further, “the manner in which comparative price information is displayed can potentially be even more important than the magnitude of the price reduction itself (depending, of course, on price-elasticity of demand) in driving product sales.”
So in other words you are better to go with your marked down price in smaller font (Option B) than the conventional stand out (Option A), proving yet again that our assumptions about how best to influence customers are often wrong and why we need to turn to behavioural science for answers.
You can access the study here.
Bri Williams runs People Patterns, a consultancy specialising in the application of behavioural economics to everyday business issues.
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