Live from ECMOD: The Power of Nine

London–Want an easy way to boost sales? Try increasing the price of products so that they end in the number “9.”

According to a study presented by Andy McDermott, managing director of Abacus Direct UK, here at ECMOD, a U.S. cataloger that tested the same shirt priced at $44, $49, and $54 found that the $49 price had one-third greater the response than the lower-priced shirt as well as the higher-priced shirt. But further testing found that the ideal price point was, in fact, $59. Prices ending in “9,” McDermott said, suggest that the item is on sale and a bargain even when it’s not.

Blatently labeling a price as a sale figure also boosts response, McDermott said. In another test, another U.S. cataloger mailed two books with the identical items priced the same. But in one version, some merchandise included the words “Pre-Season Sale” in front of the price. The items with the “sale” pricing sold 57% more than the same products without the special wording–even though the price was the same.

And if you don’t feature the logos of the credit cards you accept, you should. A cataloger tested space ads that were identical except that one featured the credit-card logos and the other mentioned the credit cards only in text. The former ads had greater response than the latter, and a “very similar impact” was seen when the test was applied to the print catalog. Apparently, McDermott said, the logos act as a cue to purchase.