Break coherence

To justify higher prices, make the new option appear sufficiently different that it shouldn’t be compared to other options.

Examples

  • As part of the national move to metric weights and measures, the UK finally changed over to selling all groceries in metric weights in January 2000. Many consumers complained at the time that this move appeared to have been accompanied by a corresponding hike in prices, or rather a shrinking of product packaging. For instance, when moving milk cartons from pints to liters, the price stayed the same but the carton size changed from 4 UK pints to 2 liters, equivalent to 3½ UK pints.
  • Gap, Inc uses different storefronts to sell similar garments at very different prices (Old Navy, Gap, Athleta). By using different “styles” for each brand, Gap can highlight the differences and so break coherence.

Principles

If you want to charge higher prices for an item, it helps if you can break its ties with other similar options. That way, people are less inclined to comparison-shop, and are more likely to set a new anchor point for your product.

How to break coherence and appear unique

  • Change the name or appearance of your product to separate it from other options that could be seen as similar. For instance, “gourmet chocolate confections” rather than “candy” or “imported artisanal cheese” rather than “velveeta.”
  • Place the product in a different category or area of your site. Physically separate it from other products that could be considered similar.
  • Create separate sites – either microsites or entire brands – to ensure differentiation.
  • Use different metrics as comparison points. For instance, green credentials, plant oil source and clean burning capabilities for biodiesel versus sulphur content and gel point for regular diesel.
  • Bonus points if the comparison points for your higher end product are more luxury-related than for your lower end products (for instance fabric choice versus free shipping).

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