Make an ounce worth more than an ounce
People are willing to pay up to 49% more when you describe a product in quantities they intuitively understand (e.g. 6 pieces, not 0.5 ounces).
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Your products can seem more or less valuable depending on how you describe or present them.
Techniques such as tweaking color saturation or where you position products in photos all affect this.
But there’s more: how you describe your product’s quantity.
P.S.: Remember, you can also show multiple copies of your product in your ads to make it feel more effective.
Previous insight: Use ‘gifts’ to reduce product returns (More insights here)
Measure your product in pieces (not weight or size) to increase its perceived value
Channels: Product | Packaging | Pricing
For: B2C. Can be tested for B2B
Research date: March 2022
Describe the quantity of your product using units that people can intuitively understand (i.e. bags, pieces), instead of official measurements like ounces and grams.
You still need to report your product’s official weight (e.g. 30 ounces) or size, but highlighting intuitive units is enough (e.g. 36 cookies).
People will find your product more valuable, and will be willing to pay more for it.
Pro tip: when using official measurements, try to use bigger numbers to make the quantity feel bigger. For example, say 500ml instead of 0.5l.
Highlighting intuitive quantity units (which customers can easily understand and imagine) vs standard measurements (e.g. weight, length) makes people judge a product more favorably and increases how much they are willing to pay for it.
As part of a series of 7 experiments and an analysis of 1,388 products on Amazon:
The average price per ounce of snack products on Amazon was 36% higher for products showing intuitive units ($0.90) vs those only showing their weight ($0.66)
People said they were willing to pay 49% more for a product when the intuitive unit (vs. standardized unit) was more prominent.
This effect works even when both quantity and weight are shown side-by-side.
The effect weakens as pack size increases, since larger numbers, since larger numbers become harder to visualize.
🧠 Why it works
We process intuitive units based on what our senses see, hear, and feel - this is hardwired into us since childhood (e.g. this sounds like it’s more, so it must be more). In contrast, we look at standardized units analytically, using mental math which requires more mental effort.
For example, we can see that a twelve-pack of soda has more soda than a six-pack of soda without any other information. To understand whether 5 soda bottles of 16.9 oz have more or less soda than 8 cans of 12 oz requires calculating the volume of both.
By triggering this type of processing, we also focus on other details our senses provide us about using the product, like memories of the taste and smell. This appeal to our senses makes us value the product more.
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The experiments all focused on snacks like chips and cookies, which are made to trigger the senses and create an enjoyable experience when eating. It’s unclear if this effect would also work for products that are more prized for functionality, such as vitamins. It also might not work for expensive, or complex purchases (e.g. a car), where people are more ready to think rationally and do some math in their head.
In product categories where sizes are standardized (e.g. wine bottles are 75cl milk usually comes in specific gallons or liters), the effect may be weaker. People are already used to thinking of the product in these terms, so may be able to more easily convert 300 cl. of wine for example, into four bottles. This was not tested.
🏢 Companies using this
In an analysis of snacks on Amazon, researchers found that:
48% used only standard measurements (e.g. Oreo Mint Creme Cookies, 15.25 Ounces)
52% also used an intuitive unit (e.g. Oreo Mini Chocolate Cookies, 12 bags)
Using intuitive units is already very common in the food and beverage (e.g. 12 pack of soda) and FMCG industries (e.g. 3 bottle packs of cleaning liquids), from intuitive labeling to multi-pack bundles.
The top results when searching Amazon for Oreos in the Sandwich Cookies section all show intuitive units.
⚡ Steps to implement
Think of how you can ‘divide’ your product into intuitive units, using methods like:
Number of pieces or packets (in multi-pack boxes)
Number of uses for items like the number of washes for bottles of shampoo or soap, or cups of coffee for coffee beans
Hours an item can work for lightbulbs, batteries, and other electronics.
Although not directly explored in this study, you can experiment with testing this in other contexts too. For example, as a freelancer, you could try charging per item (e.g. per design) rather than per hour (which is harder for the buyer to calculate). Or as a SaaS, charge by the number of users, not the amount of storage used.
You don’t need to remove standardized units entirely; you can increase the perceived value of your product just by adding intuitive units and making them more prominent (e.g. larger font)
The more experiential your product is, and the more it appeals to your customers’ senses, the more of an effect this is likely to have.
🔍 Study type
Online experiments and market observation (analysis of 1,388 snack products on Amazon)
Experiential and Analytical Price Evaluations: How Experiential Product Description Affects Prices. Journal of Consumer Research (March 2022).
Arnaud Monnier. EDHEC Business School
Manoj Thomas. S.C. Johnson College of Business, Cornell University
Remember: This is a scientific discovery. In the future it will probably be better understood and could even be proven wrong (that’s how science works). It may also not be generalizable to your situation. If it’s a risky change, always test it on a small scale before rolling it out widely.
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