Online Sales Platforms Position Apples vs. Oranges with Price Decoys

Online Sales Platforms Position Apples vs. Oranges with Price Decoys

Are You Using The Decoy Effect?

Online Sales Platforms Position Apples vs. Oranges with Price Decoys

When it comes to marketing goods online, the price you list is a very consequential matter. Online sales platforms and search engine results pit similar products against one another to gently encourage people to spend more money. 


One “particularly cunning” pricing method is called the decoy effect. The decoy effect occurs when two products are positioned side by side, one with seemingly lower value and a lower price tag, the other with exceedingly more value for the much higher price. When a third option appears with a well-rounded feature set and middle-of-the-road price, it somehow seems like the best option. The decoy effect occurs when customers’ preferences are altered by the appearance of a third option, or decoy, whose dominance makes one of the other options appear like a much better value. The decoy is not meant to fly off the (virtual) shelves; it exists purely to nudge customers toward a target product.


Decoys tend to exploit a customer’s feeling of information overload or decision fatigue. Faced with too many criteria, customers gravitate toward product listings that call out a few simple, understandable value drivers to validate their feeling that they’re getting a good value for their money. Decoys will manipulate these criteria or value drivers, often in ways that are not helpful reflections of the products on sale. Watched with a close eye, the decoy effect is like comparing apples to oranges. 


In some cases, the principles of decoy marketing can lead to surprising business innovation. Suppose a brand works to clarify its messaging around a product’s value drivers and adds additional value to an existing product. Instances like these, while certainly driving sales, have tangible benefits for customers and businesses alike.


If you’re a business looking for intelligent ways to nudge your customer, make ASTRALCOM your partner. We can help you map out your customers’ habits, expectations, and journey in building out your next great strategy or digital campaign.


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