This paper aims to explore not only the utilitarian but also the hedonic persuasive effects of promotional techniques like 99-ending prices and the influence of consumers’ decision style when evaluating these appeals. Evidence suggests that retailers use 99-ending prices as a promotional technique, based mostly on its savings appeal.
Three complementary studies were performed. A first field study among 317 shoppers allows to test the hypotheses for two groups of decision-makers (intuitive and analytical) using structural equation modeling based on the partial least squares algorithm. Then, a laboratory experiment assigned to 123 respondents manipulates the decision-making style and, in turn, tests more precisely the proposed hypotheses. Finally, the third study replicates the laboratory experiment with 104 respondents without manipulating decision-making; rather it is measured, which allows to test the effect of internal-based versus contextual-based decision style.
First, the 99-ends are not strictly associated to utilitarian benefits (savings, quality or convenience) but also to hedonic benefits fulfilling consumer’s needs for exploration, value expression and entertainment. Second, a better understanding of the moderating role of the decision-making style is obtained: consumers in an intuitive decision mode give importance only to hedonic benefits; and there are differences in the analytical decision mode: when the decision-making style is internal (measured as a personal trait), consumers give importance to both utilitarian and hedonic benefits; however, when the decision-making style is contextual (manipulated), consumers focus only on utilitarian benefits.
It is necessary to check the robustness of the results depending on other marketing variables (e.g. product category knowledge, purchase frequency) and individual consumers’ differences in price-sensitivity (e.g. price consciousness).
The findings help to better understand the image effect of 99-ends underlying both consumers’ individual differences and contextual effects. Findings also help retailers and pricing managers in their use of 99-ends as a promotional technique.
This research contributes to a better understanding of the persuasive promotional effect associated to 99-ends. The study demonstrates that utilitarian benefits cannot fully explain consumers’ responses to 99-ends, as 99-end prices can also provide stimulation, entertainment and help fulfill consumers’ needs for information, exploration and self-esteem. The authors further examine the moderating role of the decision-making style between promotional benefits and proneness to buy 99-ends products. The intuitive mode, either internal or contextual, activates hedonic benefits, whereas the analytical mode activates both utilitarian and hedonic benefits when the mode of processing is internal and only utilitarian benefits when the mode of processing is contextual.
This research has been supported through two projects of the Spanish Ministries of Education and Science, and Economy and Competitiveness: SEJ2007-65897 and ECO2011-27942. The authors are grateful to GfK Emer Ad Hoc Research, particularly to Cristina Martínez and Jan Böttcher, for their collaboration and practical support.
Gaston-Breton, C. and Duque, L.C. (2015), "Utilitarian and hedonic promotional appeals of 99-ending prices: The influence of decision-making style", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 49 No. 1/2, pp. 212-237. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-09-2012-0556
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