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Preferred Number Pricing

 

DisciplinesMarketing > Pricing > Preferred Number Pricing

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Many people like some number more than others. If these numbers are included in prices somehow, such as the final digit, they

In order of popularity globally, preferred numbers are:

  1. Seven
  2. Three
  3. Eight
  4. Four
  5. Five
  6. Thirteen
  7. Nine
  8. Six
  9. Two
  10. Eleven

Note that five and nine are less popular digits than seven and three, so perhaps these should be used less. For example you could use '87' rather than 99.

Example

A company prices items with a '97' or even '77' suffix (eg. '$5.97') to take make the price more attractive.

A store offers three items together at a special discount.

Discussion

When people see a price with their preferred numbers in (or just numbers they like) they are more likely to find them pleasurable and look at them longer. They are also less likely to dislike them.

The irregular appearance of digits is known as 'Benford's Law', after the GE physicist who found they did not appear randomly in a wide range of situations.

This list comes from Bellos (2014), who surveyed 30,025 people worldwide. Notably many of the preferred numbers are single digits, though every number between one and a hundred was represented, indicating both popularity of a few numbers and randomness.

Reasoning for number popularity includes:

  • Seven is a traditional magical number. In the UK John Dee, Queen Elizabeth the First's spymaster, had the signifier 007 (long before James Bond!). This was written as '00' to show the eyes of the queen with the number seven extending over the top of the 0's as a magical protection. Seven can also be seen in many other areas, from the 'seven dwarves' to 'seventh heaven' and seven days in a week.
  • The number three is a popular rule with artists and photographers that three subjects in a picture is better than two or four, as the eye moves between these in a pleasing triangle (which is a recognizable basic shape). It sounds like 'San' in China, which means 'Birth'. Other uses range from 'The Three Cavaliers' to the three balls of a pawnbroker's shop.
  • The number eight is popular in the 'eight ball' game. In Chinese, eight is considered lucky because it is pronounced 'Ba', which is similar to 'Fa' which means 'to make a fortune'.
  • And so on.

Just which number is preferred will vary not only by people but also by social group and even country where a number may have a particular significance. In this way, numbers can be seen as 'lucky'. Some numbers may also be seen as unlucky. In Christian countries, thirteen is considered as unlucky as the thirteenth apostle was Judas (who betrayed Jesus). Thirteen hence appears in 'bad' situations, such as there being 13 witches in a coven and Friday 13th being seen as unlucky. This is not universal, however, for example thirteen is considered lucky in Italy.

The popularity of seven and three can be seen with a party trick. When you have a room full of people, ask them to think of any two-digit number between ten and fifty. A remarkable number are likely to think of 37, so when you announce this, they will be amazed.

On November 14, 1995, 133 lottery tickets in the UK shared the £16M pound jackpot (so each winner only got £120,000). The winning numbers were 7, 17, 23, 32, 38, 42 and 48. This unusually large sharing pool can be explained when you note how many preferred digits there are here!

See also

The 99 Effect, The 95 Effect

 

Bellos, A. (2014). Alex Through the Looking Glass (How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life), London: Bloomsbury

 

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