Periodic Pricing Revisited: Beyond Pennies-a-Day
Stephen A. Atlas and Daniel M. Bartels
Abstract Study 3: Scope Insensitivity (n=227)
Previous research has shown that periodic pricing (i.e. We manipulate scope insensitivity through empathy (Hsee,
reframing a single payment as a series of payments over time) Study 1: Pleasure of Daily Donations (n=150) Rottenstreich and Xiao, 2005) to find further evidence that
can increase a consumer's willingness to purchase by making We presented respondents with a hypothetical opportunity to periodic pricing is most effective when the transaction’s
the cost of purchase seem trivial. donate a daily amount ($1) or an equivalent yearly amount benefits are scope insensitive benefits with a large initial onset
($350) to a charity and tested how the daily vs. annual frame (the big initial spike). We expect and find that periodic pricing
We present evidence that triviality is neither a necessary nor increases contributions to the Komen Foundation only after
sufficient condition for periodic pricing to increase willingness affected their perceptions of the offer’s costs and benefits.
reading the empathetic scenario and not the control scenario.
to purchase, and expand the domain of situations in which
periodic pricing increase purchase.
We propose that periodic pricing amplifies the perception of a
transaction’s benefits. This contributes to the pennies-a-day
effect and find that periodic pricing can be effective even in
cases where each payment is not trivial. We present evidence
from four studies that scope insensitivity plays an important
role in this effect.
Daily frame trivializes some costs
$1 Per Day
$365 For Year
For One Year
“Integrated Price “Periodic Price
Notably, this model predicts that periodic pricing
backfires outside the low-cost domain.
Taking the Proposal As Presented Study 2: Not Just Pennies (n=60) Conclusions about Periodic Pricing
• Decision makers tend to use frame as per decision context If periodic pricing increases purchase intentions by magnifying • Periodic pricing can inflate perception of a transaction’s
(Concreteness Principle; Slovic, 1972; Read et al, 1999) the offer’s benefits, then periodic pricing could, in theory, benefits
increase purchase intentions even when costs are not • Study 1 finds that differences in perceived benefits
• … and they do not spontaneously combine outcomes
perceived as trivial. In study 2, we predict that respondents will accounts for a substantial portion of the pennies-a-
(Thaler and Johnson, 1990; Linville and Fischer, 1991)
prefer to pay for a luxury automobile—an affect-rich product— day effect
• We propose narrowly bracketing a transaction’s costs on a daily basis, even when the costs are not considered trivial • Periodic pricing can increase purchase even for non-trivial
causes decision makers to narrowly bracket its benefits. ($20/day vs. $7,250/year). amounts
Benefits • Study 2 finds periodic pricing increases willingness
Periodic Narrowly Purchase to purchase an expensive product category
Can Trivialize • Initial benefits must be most important
• Study 3 finds periodic pricing increases willingness to
purchase only when its benefits are scope-insensitive
Narrowly Bracketed Benefits and Overall Evaluation
• Periodic pricing encourages decision makers References
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Scope insensitivity: Decision makers are responsive p< 0.1, *; p<0.05, **, p<0.01, ***
to presence of stimuli but not its magnitude