Ethical marketing tip #1:
Use rounded numbers instead of charm prices
Before the internet, marketing was different!
In November, I outlined seven things to implement in your ethical marketing strategy.
With consumerism at an all-time high, our unconscious approach to how we sell and market and what we buy has caused much damage to our environment as well as to families and plants and animals.
Is marketing to blame? Partially, yes because the way you market matters.
Going into this industry, I had no clue of the damage that would soon be considered normal. I was young, it was 1991 when I graduated with my marketing degree and things were different. Very different.
There was no internet.
Startups and entrepreneurs weren’t popping up like weeds like they are today. Consumers shopped at physical stores, not knowing how anything was made or sourced. Spreading awareness consisted of the media outlets feeding us filtered information (still does) and people writing books or articles in magazines or talking with each other.
Marketing consisted of the 4 Ps (product, price, promotion, and place). Still does, but we no longer talk about them. Now, we talk about click funnels, SEO, A/B testing, opt-ins, email lists, customer journey, etc. Which sounds great because we know SO much more about our customers than ever before. Isn’t this a good thing for us marketers?
Yes and No.
What’s missing in marketing today?
Treating customers like humans, not machines.
It’s all about the numbers
Marketing has always focussed on the numbers. That hasn’t changed over the years. And the best way to increase those numbers is by knowing your customers inside and out.
You can now get into their heads and anticipate whether they’re going to love your new offer. You know what makes them click on that button. What kind of imagery and copy reels them in and how to engage with them.
Of course, you need to spend time and money for this information, but concentrating on your customers to get to know them inside and out is an investment worth making.
The problem with using all this technology and psychology in marketing is that it results in people buying things they don’t need, or even want. Even as a conscious consumer who reads labels and only buys when everything checks out, I’ve done this. But then I don’t become a repeat customer because it wasn’t a good buying decision and I’m not ecstatic, meaning, I’m not going to become a repeat customer.
Marketing should not only increase numbers, it should build trust and enhance the connection between the brand and buyer.
Consumers are sick of being manipulated
Awareness of manipulation in marketing is spreading, thanks to Facebook, Google, Amazon and co.. And consumers are not happy. Nor do they feel safe or heard.
Because of this, it’s now harder to get an email address, let alone a sale. As an online marketer, you have to work smarter than ever. And less manipulative because consumers can smell it a mile away.
You can do that by building trust.
Your conscious consumers will welcome your stand against price manipulation.
Start with the price
One good way to build trust is to just say NO to manipulation. The easiest way to start with that is with your own numbers.
Ever wonder why prices are oddly set: $4.97,$24.99, $249, aka charm prices? Most languages are written from left to right and the psychology of it is that the first number makes more of an impression than the numbers behind it, so if you see the 4 in $4.97, you’ll think you’re getting a greater value, even if it you’re only saving 3 cents.
But when we answer the question: ‘How much is it?’ Our answer is never $4.97, it’s $5, so we automatically round up, knowing that we may as well pay $5 for it and not $4.97.
I’ve just recently heard that in some countries such as The Netherlands, they just round up at the cash register anyway and don’t give you back those 3 euro cents. They keep it! Ha! How’s that for manipulation?
Ethical marketers are now opening a can of worms by challenging traditional marketing practices and we’re starting with changing our pricing mindset because it’s an easy first step.
Are you ready to round up?
What feels right: The psychology of numbers
In a 2015 study published by Oxford University Press, evidence suggested that feelings have a lot to do with your perception of price.
They concluded that because rounded prices are easily and quickly readable and understood, the decision making is more feeling-based whereas charm prices relies more on cognition rather than feelings.
This ‘feels right’ decision-making process can make the product being sold appear more positive or negative in the potential buyer’s mind.
For example, if you’re emotionally attached to something, it’s usually a high-quality product and therefore, you expect the price to reflect that.
If, however, there was an odd charm price such as $197 slapped on it, that may make you feel a bit disappointed as it raises a question of cheapness in your mind: “Is this REALLY a high quality item?”
Doubting the process?
Are you worried you may lose sales by rounding up your prices from $14.97 to $15? I honestly doubt it, but if you are, then just ask your customers. Either on your social media channels or with the subscribers of your mailing list. Facebook group polls and Instagram stories are wonderful tools for getting quick answers.
I have a feeling though that your conscious consumers will embrace the fact that you’re taking a stand against manipulation.
Look at how Caroline and Jason from Wandering Aimfully communicated their pricing strategy. Don’t you just love this kind of fine print? It makes me feel all comfy cozy inside!
Take the pledge:
Your customers will thank you for it
As a collaborating member of the ethical move., I’d like to invite you to take the Pricing Pledge.
It’s easy and with this badge on your website, you’re showing your customers that you’re on board with ethical marketing. p.s. there are various badge designs to choose from!
Want to learn how to create an ethical marketing strategy?
If you’ve already changed to rounded prices, I’d love to hear about your experience. Have you noticed an increase or drop in sales? Have your customers commented on it at all or have they even noticed? Comment below and let’s talk!
Photo credit: Gerd Altmann on Pixabay.
Thanks for this, Jessica. I am so glad to see this blog post near the top of search results when I Googled “is charm pricing ethical?” I have had the same experience that using round numbers has worked in our favor because our audience appreciates that we are taking a stance against the manipulation that traditional marketers are teaching. Keep up the great work!
Thank you, Michelle, for your kind words and taking a stance! It’s so important for people and our planet and awareness is spreading, so keep up the good work yourself and thank you again!
It’s exhausting to seek out knowledgeable folks on this subject, however you sound like you understand what you’re speaking about! Thanks