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I'm having a debate with a client about the ordering of prices on their event poster. They'd like to display the concessionary price first (£12), followed by the standard price (£14) and finally the door price (£16) as they believe it'll make people more likely to book, as they're associating the event with a lower cost - the one they read first.

My argument is that it's somewhat misleading as it breaks standard pricing convention and could potentially become a detriment as a higher-than-initial price will be the likely cost for most customers.

Their preference: £12 concession, £14 advance, £16 on the door

I'm suggesting: £14 advance, £12 concession, £16 on the door

Is there any evidence or science to back either argument up? Or does anyone have any psychological insights into the two approaches?


Addendum

After some (inexhaustive, but nonetheless revealing) research, one thing that's become apparent is the difference in convention over here (Britain) and in North America. Over here it looks to be universal that the standard price comes first, with concessions and "late-comer / on-the-door" prices coming next - usually in that order. Over there it looks much more varied - some listings have concessions first, while other listings have standard price first; overall it's about 50/50.

Given there's no quantitative data to make a case either way (that I could find), the decision should, I believe, come down to convention, cognitive bias and lowest friction for the widest consumer base.

  • One side question (it might be a UK vs. North America thing, but over here the final part is always "at the door" vs "on" was this a typo? Or is this a UK syntax thing? – scunliffe Jul 17 '16 at 0:27
  • What is "concession price"? – Ken Mohnkern Jul 17 '16 at 2:00
  • @scunliffe I think it could be a UK syntax thing - although certainly I'll admit it could be bad English. Thanks for pointing that out. – verism Jul 17 '16 at 8:54
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    @KenMohnkern A discounted price for those on a lower income; the elderly, disabled etc. – verism Jul 17 '16 at 8:55
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I like your ordering: Advanced first, then concession and door. Most users are coming to the site to buy advanced tickets, so make that option primary, by listing it first, making it larger, and styling it to look primary. The other prices need to be there, but can be formatted to be less salient.

(I have no research to cite, but one of the basic principles of UX is to support users' primary tasks.)

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  • I'm tempted to accept this answer, despite the higher number of upvotes on scunliffe's. This is due to the "primary task" you mentioned or as I'm internalising it: offering the least amount of friction to the widest potential customer base. – verism Jul 18 '16 at 10:43
  • That's a good way to put it. I sometimes think in terms of the number of hurdles we're putting in the users' way. – Ken Mohnkern Jul 18 '16 at 10:44
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No science in this answer, just personal insight.

As a consumer I'm expecting the prices to fall in order on a scale (either up or down) not being in numerical order is weird and caused me confusion when reading (vs focusing on my commitment to make a purchase)

I'm guessing that selling in advance is better for the organizers as it helps with their mental security on the money they've put up (typ. way up front) and let's them scale accordingly (e.g. Do we just use the small room, or the big room (if a conf) and or do we need to bring in less/more equipment) - As such the CTA that you're trying to push is the advanced sales... Thus it should be the first or last item in the list. First if you want to get this bit out in front of the reader ASAP, last if you want to set the official price first, then try to sell the user on the great deal if they buy now. (Consumers tend to be heavily swayed by the "great deal" they are getting... Esp. If there is a sense of urgency to get the deal or fear of a sellout)

Finally related to that last point there is a concept called FOMA (Fear Of Missing Out) whereby if an event seems really exciting and tickets are selling fast you want in because you have a fear of missing out. It's a weird concept but you want to entice this reaction as the opposite has a very negative side effect.

If a customer isn't sure and doesn't know how popular an event is they tend to take a wait and see approach "WASA"... Which becomes a self fulfilling prophecy where organizers often have to have a fire sale on tickets at the last minute to try and break even.

TL;DR push the advanced sales, drive a sense of urgency & deal (eg limited amount of tix... You don't have to say how many) and keep the prices ascending or descending but not random.

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  • Great answer - thank you. Just one thing I'm still unsure of though: I understand your point about the benefit of a value scale (ascending or descending), but I wonder how appropriate the ordering of a concessionary price is in this scale - purely because it's an option only available to a minority of people. Most customers won't qualify for concession, so could its appearance first create an FOMA when subsequently shown higher prices they do qualify for? – verism Jul 17 '16 at 9:07
  • I'm wondering if the concessionary price should be separate from the main prices? Eg if it only applies to a small fraction of attendees I'm wondering if it is more applicable as a footnote? So like in small print after the main pricing adding "concessionary pricing available (see below)... And said pricing listed in the footer "£12 concession price available for qualified attendees" – scunliffe Jul 17 '16 at 13:27
  • I'm reluctant to consider moving a concessionary option to another location - the price is generally applicable to those who are in some way disadvantaged, and this would feel a discouraging. – verism Jul 18 '16 at 10:52
  • Understood. I'm just not used to this option and wondered if it would be better noted as a "corner case exception". – scunliffe Jul 18 '16 at 11:06

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