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A Dragging-Down Effect: Consumer Decisions in Response to Price Increases

Shirley Zhang, Abigail B Sussman, Christopher K Hsee, J Jeffrey Inman and RajeshBagchi

Journal of Consumer Research, 2021, vol. 47, issue 5, 772-786

Abstract: Four studies, across a range of domains, find a dragging-down effect in which consumers purchase fewer units of a product when a discount applies to more units. For example, consumers buy fewer peaches when each customer can buy up to three peaches at a discount than when each customer can buy only one peach at a discount or when there is no discount at all. In contrast to basic economic principles, this dragging-down effect implies that consumers purchase less (more) when the per-unit price is lower (higher). We propose and our results support an acceptability account: consumers will adopt the price-increase point (i.e., maximum discounted quantity) as their purchase quantity if that point falls within an acceptable range, and will ignore that point and purchase their initially preferred quantity instead if the price-increase point falls below the acceptable range. The current work enriches existing research on anchoring and pricing and carries implications for consumers, marketers, and policy-makers.

Keywords: price perception; discounts; reference prices; anchors; behavioral pricing (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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