You might think that the price is the price. That you make a considered judgement based on the number alone as to whether it is high or low.
That’s not the case however. When we see a price we all instantly evaluate that price based on a range of subconscious triggers which determines whether we perceive that price to be high or low.
There is a standard psychological process we all go through to make that determination. When you see a price for an item you subconsciously generate a reference price, a price that you would expect to pay for that item.
If the price is higher than your reference price then the price will be perceived to be high. If the price is lower than your reference price then the price will be perceived to be low.
For people to perceive your price to be low you need your price to seem cheaper than their reference price.
There’s three key ways you can use psychology to subconsciously influence people to perceive your price to be lower - without actually lowering your price:
Your brain has a universal concept of size with an unconscious overlap of visual and numerical size. If the price is visually large it will be perceived as numerically large.
To change this perception display your price in a smaller font size.
In your design position your price admits larger elements, making it seem smaller by comparison.
Researchers have found that removing commas (e.g., $1,499 vs. $1499) can make your price seem lower.
Certain words can influence people’s perception so choose the words that accompany your pricing carefully.
In a study the exact same product was presented at the same price, only once marked as “High Performance” and then again as “Low Maintenance”. Even though it was the same product at the same price, the one marked “High Maintenance” was perceived to be more expensive.
When writing your copy, choose words that relate to a small size (e.g., “low” or “small”).
We tend to use precise values with very smaller numbers (e.g., 1, 5.78, 12) whereas for large number we round them for convenience (e.g. 10,000, 150,000).
People can also assume rounded numbers are somewhat random or artificially higher as opposed to precise numbers that seem carefully calculated.
As a result, precise numbers trigger an association with small values influencing people’s perception of those numbers.
Think about a typical chart. On the axis, the numbers start low on the left and get higher as it moves to the right. So we tend to think of smaller numbers belonging on the left and larger numbers on the right.
You can use this association by aligning your pricing to the left.
What people see first - the price vs the product - influences whether people decide whether to make a purchase.
When products are displayed first, people tend to base their buying decision on the quality of the product.
When prices are displayed first, people tend to base their being decision on the economic value.
So if you’re targeting the luxury market then you want people to base their decision of the quality of your safari tours or property. You don’t want them to focus on the price. In this case, show the tour or property then show the price. Go one step further and visually deemphasise the price so it seems unimportant.
If you’re targeting budget travellers then cost is far more important. In this case display the price first as this marketing segment will have a greater appreciation for the value of the tour or property.
Exposure to high prices subconsciously anchors a person’s reference price to the higher end of the spectrum.
This can work for numbers that aren’t even prices. They probably don’t even notice these numbers but they have absorbed them regardless.
So on your web page for a tour you could display below the tour detail other more expensive tours that make the current tour seem better value.
You can influence people to choose a more expensive option if your products are sorted by descending price (from high to low).
This works for two reasons:
When you compare your price to a higher price, people are more likely to buy as you’ve done their research for them.
Highlight the comparison by using a different font colour. Moving the two prices apart can connect physical distance with numerical distance. Also, a smaller font size can make a strong comparison between the two prices.
Even if you reduce the perceived amount of your price, customers still might not be making bookings.
If you’re still not getting bookings because people think you’re too expensive then you might not have a pricing problem, you might have a problem communicating the value of your safari experience.
Instead of reducing your prices, always a downward spiral to going out of business, make the quality and value of your safari experiences clearer.
You can often solve your pricing problem by communicating your safari experience more effectively.