OPINION28 February 2024

Rory Sutherland: Feel-good factor

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Low prices promote the feel-good factor – but brands must market them in the first place, says Rory Sutherland. 

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There are a few fine exceptions – Volkswagen’s ‘Surprisingly ordinary prices’ campaign, for example. Or Aldi’s ‘Like brands, only cheaper’. But there are markedly few great campaigns promoting low prices. This dearth of such work may reveal a wider misconception: that it takes a lot of work to build premium brands, whereas low prices speak for themselves.

I don’t think they do.

Until a few years ago, I had always wanted to test something which would have been completely unethical, not to mention illegal. I wanted to put ‘50% extra free’ on an item on sale in the shops… and then increase the price by 50% to see what the effect would be on sales. I wanted to see how much of the uplift was created by an actual reduction in price, and how much by the implication that there was a deal on offer – even in the absence of any material reduction. To perfect the experiment, you would also test ...