There has most likely been many times in your life when you’ve been drawn to a price label that ends in 99, especially when it comes to 99-endings versus whole numbers. Seeing a pack of candy for $4.99, maybe a car for $29,999. Sometimes it’s even non 99-ending numbers, such as a house being sold for $239,900.
Here’s how it is: you’ve been duped. Retailers use this popular tactic because of how our brains are wired. Because we read from left to right, we see the first number (which resonates the most within our mind) and the rest is essentially meaningless. So if someone sees a pack of candy for $4.99, they tend to think $4.00 despite the fact that $4.99 is only one cent away from $5.00.
This marketing tactic has been used for many years because it’s apparently been proven to work. I’m not really sure how, because whenever I go shopping, I always round up the prices I see. So that $8.99 meal is $9, but I always go a step further and consider it at dollar more as well. But, apparently for the general populace, ending in 99 works. There have been studies done that prove so. Maybe it doesn’t work on me because I’m a writer, which makes me more attentive to details? Who knows.
Either way, I despise this marketing tactic. Because of that, I refuse to end my prices in 99. My paperbacks on Amazon are set at $12 flat. My paperbacks in the bookstore are set at $15 flat. My eBooks are set at $1. Again, flat. This isn’t the case for other Amazon marketplaces due to the currency exchange, but in the marketplaces I can control, I do. I’m not fully sure why, but for me and my stuff, ending in 99s would just feel… wrong. Even though it’s been proven to work, I still feel like it’s basically pointing a finger at my potential readers and saying “You’re stupid”. And I don’t want to imply that.
Another marketing tactic is setting prices at a high price to imply quality. For example, there have been many authors who have set their eBooks at $4.99 and have gotten way more sales than when the price had been set at $0.99. This is because people perceive a higher price to reflect quality, and therefore they would rather spend a few more dollars on something they think will be better, than to spend only one dollar and potentially have it go to waste.
Sure, I can understand that to a point. But here’s the thing: we need to stop pretending that price always reflects quality. Yes, a higher price does reflect good quality a lot, and yes, a low price does reflect not-so-good quality a lot. But always? No. People should do their research on the item first, then decide. I’m not saying that no one ever does research first, but that our brains are drawn more to the higher prices and we need to rewire them because of that.
My example for this one is my eBooks. I have them priced at $1. Even though there’s a pretty decent chance I may get more sales with them priced at, say, $4 or $5, it’s the principle; and I’m all about those principles. I am planning on upping the price on my eBooks eventually, but it has nothing to do with this marketing tactic.
Low prices can be for all sorts of reasons that don’t reflect quality. It can be temporary (as it is in my case), a sale, or maybe the seller just wants it at that price; not everyone wants to gouge people’s wallets.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” — It’s generally a quote used for bigger issues, but I not only believe individuals can make a difference in this world, but also that even small things can make a difference. If I disagree with how things are done, I think it would be pretty silly to still go along and do it just because it’s the “norm”. That’s why I have flat prices, and that’s why my eBooks are only being sold at a dollar right now. Besides, even at a dollar (a price that’s apparently not good), my eBooks are selling better than my paperbacks ever did, so I’m happy.
So remember: if you see a price ending in 99, round UP, and if you see a low price, don’t automatically assume it’s because it’s low quality!