All we have to do is give people the reasons, and greed is motivation enough for them to carry through…


  • Amazon (among many other e-commerce sites) shows you a discounted price and calculates for you how much you save. They offer free shipping if you just slip one more thing into your cart. You can have it sent to you with a single click (no worrying about credit card numbers or any other stressful stuff). If there aren’t enough justifications right there, you can add it to your wish list for later.

As Dan Ariely points out, the move from cheap to free is much bigger than the move from expensive to cheap, so making something about the transaction free (shipping in the example above) removes any remnants of rational thought from the shopper’s mind.

Another way to encourage greed is to reset people’s expectations. Another idea from Dan Ariely is that of Arbitrary Coherence – we seek prices coherent with what we know, but of course those benchmark prices are only arbitrary. If you can succeed in resetting users’ benchmark values, you can charge what you want. Ways to do this include putting your product in a different category from those which already have a benchmark price, redefining a unit of measurement, or changing a definition so that an increased price is justified (for instance biodiesel over regular diesel).


2 thoughts on “Greed

  1. Zune Marketplace does a marvelous job of changing your benchmark. You have to buy Zune points, which really equate to about 78 points per dollar, in order to purchase music, videos, etc.

    While shopping, you see the point value for new songs – usually 78-99 points per song. You also notice that you can buy the entire album (12 songs) for a measly 800 points. Even though you originally wanted just the one song, you have 1200 points at your disposal and you are basically getting 2 songs for FREE. What a deal!

    I believe the same point system is in place for X-box online. Evil genius? You bet.

  2. How about the nasty frame footwork on this site… no matter where you click — internal or external links — the URL stays “”. Tsk, tsk.

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