Have you ever noticed that a lot of things you buy seem to have prices that end in a 9 or a 7? It feels ridiculous, right? People aren’t stupid. We can all infer that if we’re paying $99, it’s as good as paying $100.
Except that we’re human, which means we’re emotional. While it’s in our subconscious usually, we do think, “Yes! It’s under $100!”. And that sounds entirely more approachable than, “But it’s going to eat $100!” And while they are pretty much the same thing, to the human subconscious they’re actually not.
Studies have been done.
Seriously. People have taken the time to research this with proper scientific procedures. (I might need to say “seriously” again.) And it turns out that things priced in round numbers don’t sell as well.
There are actually two things going on here.
First, people will instinctually attach themselves to the first number in the price. If the print is $50, it’s $50. But if the print is $49, we think of it as $40 and change. Seriously. (I know I keep saying seriously, but if you’re anything like me this stuff makes you wince at our instinctual stupidity as human beings.) We all have an idea of what something should cost and if your customer thinks a print shouldn’t cost $50 but it’s ok for it to cost $40, this very concept can make the sale and all you lose is $1. Totally worth it.
Secondly, and this one’s pretty smart once you think about it, we like to think that the amount we’re paying for something is what it’s really worth. Your customer wants to know that you didn’t pull that $150 price tag out of thin air for the piece, just because it looks like it should cost $150. The more specific the number is, the more likely your customer will think that you did come to that price after careful thought and numerous calculations (which you should be doing anyway). A $2000 painting feels suspect, perhaps it could easily have been only $1000 should the artist not think so highly of herself and her skill… but a $1997 painting feels, while still a little like you’re trying to sell it, much more truthful and valid. Even better, a $1986 painting might feel like it involved many more calculations because it’s more specific a number than $1997. Can you spare the $14 to make the $2000 sale? Probably so.
Do you relate to that second idea?
When you go to the store, does it feel strange if the oranges are priced at exactly $3/lb? While you know that the .99 and .97 are sales tactics, it doesn’t seem to matter, you’re still more likely to buy than if the number were rounded up.