Price awareness can be a buzzkill

April 4, 2017

Most people who buy a new car, electronic device or music album online want to enjoy the purchase as long as possible, but researchers have discovered something that decreases our satisfaction more quickly.

The investigators conducted a series of seven experiments in which consumers used a product over a period of time, and they found that enjoyment of the experience declined faster for people who were aware of the product's price. Their findings are available online in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

"Being reminded of the price makes the experience less relaxing," says Kelly Haws, PhD, a professor at Vanderbilt University and lead author of the study. "This is due to the fact that we tend to evaluate the experience more critically when it's associated with money."

In one experiment, participants selected five songs online and listened to each three times. One group saw the song's price of 99 cents as they were listening, but the price was not listed for the other group. Then the participants rated the songs on a scale of 1 to 100. After listening the first time, both groups gave most songs a rating of approximately 80. After listening the third time, the group with price awareness had dropped to a rating of about 30, while the other group had only dropped to 60.

"The negative effect of pricing only emerged over time, not at the beginning," Haws says.

The researchers had similar findings when participants retrieved M&Ms from a gumball machine. When people saw the price of the M&Ms on the machine, their enjoyment of the snack dropped more quickly over time.

For , the findings suggest that people will enjoy an experience longer if they avoid focusing on the price.

"If you are going on a date, don't talk about the cost," Haws says. "Or if you are going to an amusement park where the lines are long, thinking too much about the price of admission will steal away from your enjoyment of the experience."

For marketers, the study suggests that it may be beneficial to separate the price of a product from the experience. This could prevent consumer burnout, which leads people to stop buying a product and switch to another one.

The study also has implications for people who are actually trying to stop enjoying an experience. For example, people who are trying to eat less junk food or cut down on spending may benefit from focusing on more often.

Explore further: Peak-end pizza: Higher prices mean first impressions count

More information: Journal of Consumer Psychology, www.journals.elsevier.com/jour … e-influence-of-price

Related Stories

Peak-end pizza: Higher prices mean first impressions count

November 25, 2015

How does price impact your evaluation of a restaurant meal? Psychologists have long thought that we judge experiences based on their most intense moment (the peak) and the last part of the experience (end). However, a new ...

Memo to big box retailers: Goodwill has a shelf life

November 26, 2013

Big box retailers may have had the secret to combatting online retailers all along: instant gratification. A new study from Columbia Business School that is published in the Journal of Consumer Research warns that the positive ...

Early product launches: How will consumers respond?

April 19, 2011

A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research explains why consumers often indicate they are willing to pay more for a product that is not yet available—but are reluctant to pay that price when the product is ultimately ...

Researchers look into the brains of music fans

June 27, 2016

As soon as social considerations also play a part in economic decisions, our brain seems to switch to a different processing mode. At least this is indicated by the results of a current study that was conducted at the University ...

Recommended for you

How to cut your lawn for grasshoppers

November 22, 2017

Picture a grasshopper landing randomly on a lawn of fixed area. If it then jumps a certain distance in a random direction, what shape should the lawn be to maximise the chance that the grasshopper stays on the lawn after ...

Plague likely a Stone Age arrival to central Europe

November 22, 2017

A team of researchers led by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History has sequenced the first six European genomes of the plague-causing bacterium Yersinia pestis dating from the Late Neolithic ...

Ancient barley took high road to China

November 21, 2017

First domesticated 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East, wheat and barley took vastly different routes to China, with barley switching from a winter to both a winter and summer crop during a thousand-year ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.