Imagine you're in a supermarket and you're craving something sweet. Here are two possible situations:
- Standing in front of a shelf, you see all kinds of packaging but a chocolate bar catches your eye. Then, you see the price tag of €1.
- Standing in front of a shelf, you see all kinds of packaging but a €1 price tag catches your eye. Then, you see it's a chocolate bar.
The question is: does seeing the price or product first influence buying behaviour? Karmarkar, Shiv & Knutson investigated this question using fMRI research.
Research has shown that the order of information strongly influences the way people decide. If you see the product first, specific brain areas are activated to evaluate the attractiveness of the product. However, if you see the price first, other brain areas are activated to evaluate the worth of the product (i.e. is this product worth X amount). So, when you see the price first, the brain evaluates the product with the question "is this product worth it?" and not "do I like this product?".
The researchers also showed that it can help to show the price first if the product was a functional one. Because with functional products, the main evaluation is the cost of the product, and not whether it is an attractive one.
For example, with functional products like batteries or a frying pan, the attractiveness of the product is less relevant than its cost. Therefore, with functional products, seeing the price first increases the likelihood that consumers will buy the product because consumers mainly evaluate whether the price meets the estimated value of the product.
So, our recommendation is to think carefully about which aspect is more important to your consumers with regards to your product or service. If it's the price, then show the price first. If it's the added value of the product or service, then show the product or service first.