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High‐low context cultures and price‐ending practices

Adam Nguyen (Siena College, Loudonville, New York, USA)
Roger M. Heeler (Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Zinaida Taran (Siena College, Loudonville, New York, USA)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 5 June 2007

Abstract

Purpose

Retail prices ending in 0, 5 (even ending), and 9 (odd ending) are common in western countries. The purpose of this paper is to explain variances in odd versus even ending practices in western versus non‐western countries, using Hall's high‐low context construct.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey of web‐posted prices in ten countries is conducted.

Findings

Relative to their counterparts in low context, western cultures, consumers in high context, non‐western cultures may be less prone to the illusion of cheapness or gain created by odd endings, and more likely offended by such perceived attempts to “fool” them. Thus, odd endings are predicted to operate at a higher level of value significance to consumers, and to occur less frequently relative to even endings, in high than low, context cultures. Data support the predictions.

Research limitations/implications

Additional empirical studies are recommended to further test the proposed theory.

Practical implications

Western firms need to be cautious when replicating odd ending practices in non‐western markets. Even ending is a “safer” pricing format. Odd endings, if used, should convey cheapness or gain that is more “real”.

Originality/value

The research results indicate that the results of western‐based consumer research cannot be treated as universally applicable. The high‐low context theory supplements prior theories for price ending patterns in non‐western countries, and those based on perceptions and affect in the west. The study also demonstrates the usefulness of the web method in international pricing research.

Keywords

Citation

Nguyen, A., Heeler, R.M. and Taran, Z. (2007), "High‐low context cultures and price‐ending practices", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 206-214. https://doi.org/10.1108/10610420710751582

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited