Using Decoy Pricing To Increase Your Sales

Using Decoy Pricing To Increase Your Sales

What do you usually do when you go shopping?

You compare prices.

We can’t run away from this consumer practice.

It has become one of our to-do lists before purchasing anything.

What you’re about to discover in this article is the art of making full use of this consumer behavior to drive more sales for your business.

Most successful businesses across the industries have been using this strategy to their advantage.

Apple is one of them.

This pricing strategy, when executed perfectly, can turn around struggling businesses into consistent six-figures profitable businesses effortlessly.

Behold, the Decoy Pricing strategy.

Decoy pricing & its psychology

Let’s first define what is it and how it works.

Decoy pricing, in its simplest term, is the act of introducing a lower perceived value offer to highlight the main selling offer.

It works like a decoy to push customers towards the main offer.

Here’s an image to illustrate my point.

(Image source: Sketchplanations)

Let’s say you want to sell the $30 wine in the image.

The first scenario will make it “looks” expensive.

However, when a $50 wine is introduced into the offers, the $30 wine suddenly becomes reasonable.

This is because it’s the middle between “low-quality” and “high-quality” wine.

It’s the Compromise Effect at work.

We tend to always choose the middle option when we’re given buying choices.

(Image source: The Conversation)

Another way the Decoy pricing works wonderfully is through Cognitive Bias.

As consumers, we perceive value differently when a decoy is introduced into the mix. 

In the image above, you’ll get four more accessories for $149 as compared to the $89 and $125 offer.

Plus, it has better features too.

According to Cognitive Bias, we’ll perceive the $149 as a better deal.

In this case, the $125 and $89 is the decoy.

Examples of the Decoy pricing strategy

Now you know how the strategy works and why it works so well.

We’ll go through some real-life examples to solidify your understanding of the strategy.

Example 1 – The Economist

They offered three types of subscription offers to their audience. 

  • Web Subscription – $59
  • Print Subscription – $125
  • Web and Print Subscription – $125

As you can see from their offer, the print subscription is the decoy.

Since almost anyone can read from their digital devices nowadays, it makes no sense that the print subscription is more expensive than the web subscription.

But the audience wanted a better deal.

So, most opted for the web and print subscription to get the most of their money.

Example 2 – Apple

When we talk about decoy pricing, Apple is the master.

Look at their MacBook offers in the image below.

(Image source: Quora)

They offer their most basic laptop for $1,499.

Meanwhile, their middle-tiered and high-tiered offer is only $200 apart. 

From a consumer’s perspective, $1,999 is the best deal.

The most basic MacBook offer played its role as a decoy that pushes the value perception on the middle and high tiered offers.

Buyers could get their hands on twice as much storage for an extra $200.

I’d say it’s a no-brainer to go for the highest-tiered offer.

Example 3 – Stutterstock

Speaking of digital downloads, Stutterstock has a perfect example we can discuss.

They offer a certain amount of licensed images for commercial use every month based on what package is subscribed to.

Take a look at their subscription offers below.


(Image source: Human How)

They make it very obvious that the $29/month and $99/month offers are not-so-good deals.

For agencies or companies that use license images as part of their work, they’re left with $169/month and $199/month offers to consider.

Here’s the interesting part.

You’ll get twice as much access to images for an extra $30.

That’s a great way of pushing the highest-tiered offer without selling too hard.


Decoy pricing is a powerful marketing strategy when used correctly.

It taps into the deep psychological mind of the consumers and nudges them to make buying decisions we want them to make.

Applying this strategy to your marketing will make selling anything much easier.

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Jaz Lai

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