Price and utility

Posted by Rob Walker on April 23, 2009
Posted Under: 48-Hour T-shirt,Buying In (the book),Consumer Behavior

Jonah Lehrer, author of the celebrated How We Decide, describes an experiment suggesting a link between what something costs and how well we think it will work.

As it happens, the same experiment is described in the decidedly less-celebrated Buying In. But that’s not why I bring it up. I bring it up because an even more powerful demonstration of the same tendency was demonstrated in a more recent study involving the fictitious painkiller Veladone-Rx.

You might remember that if you’re a regular here, because that study was the inspiration for a 48-Hour T-Shirt. The T is no longer available, but the research description remains. It’s still one of my favorite studies ever (the upshot is that people found a placebo painkiller effective if it cost a lot — but not very effective if it was cheap).

For yet another discussion of how a higher price actually enhances consumer preception of utility, see this Murketing post about paying for garbage. (That post includes, though it is not quite about, a real-world example of prices and apparel that I think is harder to rebut than the ones Lehrer offers, but that’s just my bias.)

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Comments are closed.

Next Post:
Previous Post: