The Latest Neuromarketing Insights

Product or Price first? How Order Increases Sales

Relevant topics Archive, Conversion

  • Neuromarketing Principle:
    People are more critical about similarly attractive products under price primacy. Meaning; the decision making process of consumers changes depending on whether they first see the price or the product.
  • Application:
    Use price or product primacy (price vs. product first) to put your customers in the right purchasing mindset which is in accordance with your product (simple vs. complex).
  • Imagine walking into a clothing store and the first thing you see is a rack of jeans clearly labeled “€49.99”. With this price in mind, you start looking at the different jeans. As you scavenge those denims, you might find something you like.

    Now let's look at a different scenario: imagine walking past a display where you see a pair of jeans. When you walk over to take a closer look, you see that it says “€49.99” on the tag. Will you go in and look for the pair of jeans?

    In both cases, the denims and importantly, the price are the same (e.g., you have the same kind of information). However, depending on which one you see first, will you make the same kind of decision? 

    Price primacy

    The latest research suggests that you decide differently. The phenomenon “Price primacy” influences your decision making in a way that makes you cost conscious.

    Karmarkar et al. (2015) examined the price primacy effect by using an fMRI scanner; allowing them to track areas in the brain that play a part in decision making.

    Seeing a product before seeing the price (product primacy) makes you think of its basic features. You are product primed; totally thinking about the feel, the look, the smell of the jeans. On the other hand, seeing a price before the product (price primacy) makes you wonder whether this product is worth its price. You’ve become a cost conscious critical consumer.

    So as a marketer, what should you do with this? Which priming causes your clients to buy more? Does being (price) critical lead to lesser evaluations and sales?

    Price Primacy in the brain

    To answer that question, we want to educate you guys a little bit more. You want to sell more, but selling more efficient is the bigger win here, right?

    Okay, so what is involved in this decision making process? Neural correlations indicated that the valuation process was more critical or conservative under “price primacy”, whereas ‘product primacy’ resulted in evaluations strongly related to the product's’ attractiveness or desirability.

    The underlying brain areas that play a role in this decision making process are the MPFC (Medial PreFrontal Cortex) for integrating price and product information. The other area is the NA (Nucleus Accumbens) which is linked to product liking. Taken together, they demonstrate that the order of appearance (price vs. product) can alter the process of product evaluation.

    But what is the best way to alter this product evaluation process?

    Price Primacy in practice

    As a marketer, you of course, have a great product with awesome features. Bear in mind that there are differences in the mind of the consumer. Some products are simply more standard than others. Oatmeal is just oatmeal. Whereas toothpaste is toothpaste. Your added feature of ‘pearls straight from the sea will make your teeth brighter than ever before’, simply said, is still just toothpaste - just a necessity to not make your teeth fall out. But the good news is, you can use this to your advantage!

    Price first

    Price primacy can increase the purchase of bargain-priced products when their worth is easily recognized. For everyday products, like a pair of jeans, consumers are familiar with the basics and properties of the product. Being more critical (under price primacy conditions) does not decrease the likeability for products or the probability of purchase! The capital gain is the discount on utilitarian products. So make sure you show the bargain price first. This is now the uniqueness or advantage of your product. 


    Product first

    When you’re introducing or advertising a complicated product, high quality, expensive or luxury product; make sure you focus on its properties, features and quality. Emphasize these informational points in your advertisements, thereby showing consumers that the product is worth its price.

    If your product genuinely has many features - like a laptop or a car - it is wise to show the uniqueness and benefits of the product first in your advertising.


    Take shopping message

    To sum up: Product and price primacy lead to different types of evaluation. Their influence on purchase may depend on the nature of the products under consideration. So think of the kind of product you are selling. Price primacy can increase the purchase of bargain-priced everyday products when their worth is easily recognized. Put up your flags and dollar signs. Whereas more complicated products can benefit from indirect or omitted price tags. Spark up the product experience first and put your tag on the inside of the jeans for example. 

  • Product or Price first? How Order Increases Sales
  • Reference:

    Karmarkar, Uma R., Baba Shiv, and Brian Knutson. "Cost Conscious? The Neural and Behavioral Impact of Price Primacy on Decision Making." Journal of Marketing Research 52.4 (2015): 467-481.


    Further Reading

    • These are the 7 most interesting neuromarketing insights of 2015

      These are the 7 most interesting neuromarketing insights of 2015

      I vividly remember reading a cool article last year.  Scientist found that words that sound alike could trigger the same brain areas. Specifically they found that ‘bye now’ and ‘buy now’ were closely linked together. It was good to know that the hidden gems from the scientific journals still found their way to us marketers. But after that it got quiet. Where was I going to get those latest juicy insights? 

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