Monash University

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Consumer reactions to price-quantity tactics

posted on 2017-02-21, 05:12 authored by Yao, Jun
Marketers employ a variety of pricing tactics such as pennies-a-day, price matching, price partitioning, everyday low pricing and comparative price claims. This thesis adopts the term “tactics” to delineate the marketing strategies that utilize price and quantity (which here specifically refers to the volume or size of a single product) to influence consumer behaviours. There is an emerging research stream examining how consumers respond to various price-quantity tactics. This thesis contributes to this literature by investigating consumer reactions to two different price-quantity tactics. The thesis consists of two independent essays. Essay one identifies and distinguishes between situations where product alternatives are framed with equal quantities and unequal prices where consumers actually compare product prices, and situations where alternatives are framed with equal prices and unequal quantities where consumers actually compare product quantities in order to make judgments and decisions. It examines how consumer comparative judgments and purchase decisions differ in these two situations, and examines the process underlying this effect. Drawing on multi-attribute loss aversion, essay one proposes a greater aversion to quantity loss than price loss among consumers. Results of a series of experimental studies show that the difference between competing brands having unequal sizes and equal prices (e.g., product A: $3.51/300ml versus product B: $3.51/330ml) is generally perceived as larger than the difference between competing brands having unequal prices and equal sizes (e.g., product A: $3.51/300ml versus product B: $3.19/300ml). However, this effect is reversed when equal-value attributes are removed from the comparison (i.e., removal of $3.51 for the former case and removal of 300ml for the latter case) and it is therefore context-dependent. Further, it demonstrates the moderating roles of numerical representation type (Pandelaere, Briers, & Lembregts, 2011) of the price/size differences on the comparative judgments. Finally, it shows that when product alternatives have unequal sizes and equal prices, this leads to a greater perceived difference in product values than when they have unequal prices and equal sizes. As a result, consumers favour the option which is framed as a bigger package, relative to the same option which is framed as a lower price, in product selection. Essay two identifies unit pricing (i.e., displaying unit costs on price tags) as an important price-quantity tactic associated with varying prices and sizes. It proposes a psychological model of how unit pricing affects consumer purchase decisions and tests it in the context of identical product quantities, explaining why the presence of unit price information makes consumers more inclined to choose products with lower unit prices in general. Prior research shows that the presence of unit price information in a grocery shopping context leads consumers to choose lower unit priced products. However, the process underlying this effect remains unclear. Essay two suggests that the unit pricing effect is both cognitively and motivationally driven as it makes it not only easier to find the cheaper options, but also creates a greater non-conscious desire to choose these options. The results from four experiments show that the motivational effect occurs even when products are identically sized. Results also indicate that the motivational effect of unit pricing operates independently of the cognitive effect and therefore is automatic. It finally shows that the motivational effect generalizes to the evaluation of price discounts and discovers a boundary condition where unit pricing actually decreases rather than increases price salience.


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Principal supervisor

Harmen Oppewal

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Business and Economics

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