Prattle & Jaw

Two blogs about a whole lot of nothing

99p? No Sir. £1? It's a Deal!

How weird we are..... I've read a lot about consumer behaviour and all the odd little things we do; why we buy what we buy, why we believe this and don't believe that, who does what shopping and when, but something I never understood is the one penny margin.

Everything I've read says that it's because people see the number as less (which, and I can't argue this point; it is), even if it's only a penny. E.g. £4999.99 is cheaper than £5000.

Yet I've always been the annoying one who argues that it's not. Well, it is,'s not really. I mean - if the (and I wish to God I could find the source for this right now) reason is because we see the number as less, wouldn't seeing a whole bunch of zeros together appear less than a string of nines? It does to me. Besides that, just saying it is more time consuming - just try it.

Supposedly those advertising gurus out there think that consumers are so bloody daft, that on hearing that they can get a new TV for under £300, they'll throw down their remotes and rush to the nearest shop, even if to save but a penny. Today, those 'gurus' are slowly but surely realising that no, we're not all mindless, consuming zombies, but actually quite capable of making our own minds up thank you very much, and we don't just buy all the shit that is thrown in our general direction (or is that farts?). Times have changed, and thanks (in most) to the wonderful, wonderful Net that is Inter, we, as consumers, can pick and choose to our heart's content. Ain't it grand?

Anyhow, I digress.

I often find myself looking at DVDs priced just £1 or £2, and sometimes I even pick them up and consider buying them. But do I? No. Why? Because it's not worth the queue at the till. Make any sense? No! For some insane reason I want something to be worth my queuing. It's almost as if I want to pay for my queuing.

Almost as weird, but with explanation (to get back to the point) is the 99p item. Ah, 99p shops...those weird emporiums that...'grace' the British highstreet (and have crept on to Danish streets too), those cavernous shops where you find toothpaste next to Cadburys, which is just left of the toilet brushes, love. I'm a fan - really I am. But I hate that it's 99p. Why? A quick Google comes up with some reasons.

The prospect of a wallet full of 1p coins.

The fact you have to wait for change.

People are insulted by advertisers.

All of which are valid reasons. It's just a hassle. It's annoying when something is advertised for one price, when it'd be easier for everyone if it was rounded up. So I was pleased to see this article from the BBC news website stating that the UK's four largest grocers (Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury's) have increased the number of £1 promotional price tags 150% over the past year. At last....simple, plain, honest £1 goodness.

There are of course many studies of why the 99p effect works (here, for example), but I just can't believe that this is still the case. I'd love to read more about it, so if anyone does have any clue as to why the 99p price tag still exists, do let me know - but please, don't get me started on the whole £4999.98 deal....

Copyright © 2014, Lara Mulady. All rights reserved.